Five-Star Inter Ease Past Lugano In First Pre-Season Test

Inter began their preparation for the 2020-21 Serie A campaign in emphatic fashion, claiming a 5-0 win over Swiss Super League outfit Lugano. There was rustiness in their play but their superior quality was evident.

The Nerazzurri opened the scoring in the fourth minute. Achraf Hakimi’s pace and vision were on display for it. The Morocco international squared the ball for Dalbert’s opener.

Both Mattia Bottani and Alexander Gerndt had chances to equalize for the Swiss visitors. Bottani came close as his shot bounced off the woodwork, while Gerndt’s shot was wide of the bottom left corner. This was the closest the visitors came to disturbing the scorers.

Nicoló Barella had a short stint on the pitch, limping off the pitch after 20 minutes. The midfielder was expressive in the middle of the park, his highlight was a wayward long-range effort. Young Lucien Agoumé replaced him.

Hakimi was again the provider for Inter’s second goal. A spirited Stefano Sensi found himself in space. However, the former Sassuolo man was dispossessed by his Swiss marker. The ball fell to the rushing Achraf, whose pass was turned in by Akos Kecskes.

The Nerazzurri added to their tally within a minute. Alexis Sanchez robbed the ball as the game was restarted. The Chilean rolled the ball into Lautaro Martinez’s path, who drove the ball home. It was a trademark goal from a team well versed with the Antonio Conte principles. It was their alertness that caught the Lugano defense napping to make it 3-0.

Lugano were duly shocked and their misery increased soon after, but not before Sandi Lovric gave Inter a scare with a long-range effort. For the Nerazzurri, Milan Skriniar broke up Lugano and freed up Sanchez to run at the defense. The former Barcelona man’s turn of pace and combination with El Toro was enough to make it 4-0.

Samir Handanovic handed over the armband to Danilo D’Ambrosio as Conte shook up his lineup at half-time with ten players coming on. Only the young Agoumé stayed on for the second half. Similarly, Lugano made nine changes to their playing eleven.

Romelu Lukaku went down in the first minute of the second half to earn a penalty. The Belgian got on the scoreboard promptly as he placed the ball in the bottom right corner.

It was a hard toil afterward. Both sides tried to force the issue and came close. Ashley Young could have made it 6-0 but his combination with his former Manchester United teammate was parried away. Ionit Radu’s saves made sure the clean sheet was maintained.

Inter soaked up the pressure well and ensured that the Swiss Super League side was shackled throughout the fixture. Lugano’s desperation gave Inter more opportunities. While Sanchez and Lautaro were clinical in front of the goal, Christian Eriken, Lukaku, and Young on the right-hand side created opportunity after opportunity. A goal seemed to be coming but never materialized.

The Nerazzurri’s performance gave glimpses of Conte’s plans for the 2020-21 campaign. There were constant flank switches, Dalbert combined with Hakimi to put those plans into action. While in the center, Sanchez and Lautaro’s pressing evidenced that.

The midfield was sloppy at times and put themselves under pressure with needless turnovers. This could be attributed to the occasion and the fixture’s relative importance. However, if one is to read into Conte’s mentality, he would not have liked what he saw. Sensi and Eriksen were reliable in midfield, while Brozovic impressed as well. Meanwhile, Nainggolan needs time to adapt to adjust to the new tactical setup.

The Nerazzurri faithful would be pleased with the outing and the result. There were goals for Lukaku and Martinez, while Hakimi and Sanchez contributed with assists. Dalbert, Perisic, and Young were not only reliable at the back but also assisted in the defensive phases of the game. There are still two weeks before the start of the season and Inter look ready for the title assault.


September 15, 2020 – Friendly Match

SCORERS: 4′ Dalbert, 36′ Kecskes o.g., 36′ Lautaro Martinez, 43′ Lautaro Martinez, 47′ Lukaku pen.

INTER FIRST HALF (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, Ranocchia, Bastoni; Hakimi, Barella (21′ Agoumé), Sensi, Gagliardini, Dalbert; Sanchez, Lautaro Martinez
INTER SECOND HALF (3-4-1-2): Radu; D’Ambrosio, de Vrij, Kolarov; Young, Brozovic, Nainggolan, Perisic; Eriksen; Lukaku, Salcedo (Padelli, Esposito, Pirola) Coach: Conte
LUGANO: Osigwe (65′ Soldini), Guerrero (65′ Jovanovic), Kecskes (46′ Covilo), Maric (63′ Selasi), Bottani (46′ Ardaiz), Holender (65′ Sefraj), Sabbatini (65′ Manicone), Lavanchy (65′ De Queiroz), Gerndt (46′ Lungoyi), Guidotti, Lovric (65′ Centinaro) Coach: Jacobacci

REFEREE: Diop (Switzerland)