Inter played the Sixth Symphony. Sampdoria’s poor shape of these days was just what the Nerazzurri needed to grab three easy points at the Luigi Ferraris Stadium and prepare to face next week’s trial of fire. Antonio Conte’s squad is expected to face Barcelona in Champions League, and then Juventus for the Derby d’Italia in the space of five days.
They will do it from the driving set of Serie A, and a perfect record of 18 points out of 18 available – two more than Maurizio Sarri’s Bianconeri. The Nerazzurri had not had such a flawless start in the domestic league since the 1966-67 season: Those were the days of coach Helenio Herrera and possibly the best Inter lineup ever seen. Just saying.
Today’s success in Genova bore the mark of Stefano Sensi, who is quickly establishing himself as a key figure in Conte’s midfield, and Alexis Sanchez, who made it back to the scorecard after almost one year in what was his first game at Inter as a starter.
Too bad that El Nino Maravilla stained a somewhat uplifting performance with a theatrical simulation which earned him a second yellow card and an early access to the changing rooms. Not only did Sanchez force his side to play with one man less for most of the second half. The expected one-match ban will also cause him missing the upcoming San Siro showdown with Juventus.
Roberto Gagliardini however sealed the score at 1-3 after Jakub Jankto had temporarily revived Sampdoria’s hopes. Too much was the difference between Eusebio Di Francesco’s dismayed troops and Antonio Conte’s impressive war machine, even at numerical disadvantage.
The Blucerchiati situation is depressing, with disengaged President Maurizio Ferrero hesitating to sell the club, and new coach Eusebio Di Francesco still failing to put his footprint on the Genoan side. And so, all the Nerazzurri had to do to dispose of their opponents was hitting the gas a little bit to score two goals in the space of two minutes. Alexis Sanchez’s hara-kiri only served the purpose of preventing the home supporters from leaving the Luigi Ferraris 45 minutes earlier.
Antonio Conte resorted to some turnover in view of the big match at the Camp Nou. Nicolo’ Barella and Romelu Lukaku took seat on the bench, with defender Alessandro Bastoni debuting from the start, and Alexis Sanchez joining Lautaro Martinez in attack.
However, the Nerazzurri’s trump card proved to be once again Stefano Sensi. The former Sassuolo midfielder turned Inter’s pressure into a strong shot which hit Alexis Sanchez’s back and caught goalkeeper Emil Audero unaware. A lucky finalization perhaps, but Inter had already been showing a clear superiority when balance was broken in the 16th minute.
One minute later, the Chilean Maravilla found himself again on the trajectory of Sensi’s suggestion, a beautiful left-foot pass this time that only asked to be pushed in the poor Blucerchiati’s net. Referee Gianpaolo Calvarese checked the VAR to rule out a possible offside before allowing Inter’s 0-2 goal.
In the 29th minute, Jakub Jankto tried a left-foot volley from a cross. He gained a few applauses from his angry fans, but the shot was far from threatening. In any case, the Czech midfielder showed he could possibly be Di Francesco’s only weapon in a day where Fabio Quagliarella and his attacking partner Emiliano Rigoni were pretty much non-existent.
A wrong offside call spared Sampdoria in the 35th minute, as it cancelled Antonio Candreva’s third goal – with Inter’s number 87 humiliating Emil Audero by flipping the ball between the goalie’s legs. Two minutes later, Lautaro Martinez galloped through the home side’s defensive wasteland, but his shot missed the target. Sampdoria struggled terribly to control Alexis Sanchez and Lautaro Martinez. At half time, the ball possession counter read 67% in favor of Antonio Conte’s side. It was a slaughter.
The second half opened just like the first had ended, but this time Emil Audero saved on Lautaro Martinez. Then, Alexis Sanchez had the great idea of diving in Sampdoria’s box with referee Calvarese around. Sanchez had already been booked in the first half for a tackle on Albin Ekdal. His second yellow left the Beneamata with one man less and still 40 minutes to play.
Sampdoria saw the miracle possible in the 52nd minute, as a treacherous left-foot shot by Jakub Jankto slid through Inter’s defense and surprised Samir Handanovic. Eusebio Di Francesco thus decided to upgrade his assault weaponry, and pulled out a midfielder to add striker Federico Bonazzoli to his offensive duo Quagliarella-Rigoni.
Antonio Conte’s answer was substituting Lautaro Martinez to throw Romelu Lukaku in the mix, the Belgian giant being a better fit to play as lone striker. He also sent in Marco D’Ambrosio in place of Antonio Candreva. In the 60th minute, Marcelo Brozovic found Roberto Gagliardini in the box with a filtering pass. The Nerazzurro’s first shot was deflected by Audero, but Sampdoria’s goalie couldn’t do anything on Gagliardini’s subsequent tap in.
Eusebio Di Francesco’s last moves were sending in 21-year-old Ronaldo Vieira for Albin Ekdal, and then another striker – Gianluca Caprari for Karol Linetty. Inter came closer to score again however, with Romelu Lukaku showing more glimpses of his powerful offensive skills, but concluding poorly after having cut through Sampdoria’s defense.
The Nerazzurri kept the score at 1-3 despite experiencing a few minor frights during injury time. Ronaldo Vieira called Samir Handanovic to a difficult save, then Fabio Quagliarella hit the outside of the net from the subsequent corner kick. Inter’s minds were likely in Barcelona already, but with a comfortable view from the top of the Serie A league table.
September 28, 2019 – Serie A 2019-2020 Round 6
SCORERS: 20′ Sensi (I), 22′ Sanchez (I), 55′ Jankto (S), 61′ Gagliardini (I)
|SAMPDORIA (3-5-2): Audero; Bereszynski, Colley, Chabot; Depaoli (56′ Bonazzoli), Linetty (73′ Caprari), Ekdal (69′ Vieira), Jankto, Murru; Rigoni, Quagliarella (Falcone, Raspa, Augello, Ferrari, Regini, Barreto, Léris, Thorsby, Ramirez) Coach: Di Francesco|
|INTER (3-5-2): Handanovic; Bastoni, De Vrij, Skriniar; Candreva (57′ D’Ambrosio), Gagliardini, Brozovic, Sensi (65′ Barella), Asamoah; Lautaro Martinez (56′ Lukaku), Sanchez (Padelli, Dimarco, Ranocchia, Godin, Lazaro, Borja Valero, Vecino, Biraghi, Politano) Coach: Conte|
REFEREE: Mr. Calvarese from Teramo
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Rigoni, Linetty (S), Bastoni, Skriniar (I); Red Card: Sanchez (I); Extra Time: 1st Half 3′, 2nd Half 4′