Inter Maintain Solid Serie A Lead Thanks to Matteo Darmian Winner

Antonio Conte’s men have a firm grip on the Scudetto. Milan had reduced their lead at the top to eight points on Saturday but the Nerazzurri gave an assured performance against Cagliari at the Giuseppe Meazza to register their 9th win on the trot.

Their contingent of former Manchester United players were again on the pitch with the final blow coming from Matteo Darmian. The versatile defender scored in the 77th minute to trouble the scorers for the only time on the day.

Defeat to the soon to be Italian champions was disarraying for Cagliari. They are rooted in the relegation slots and were unable to affect the five-point disadvantage to Torino above.

Inter were the dominant side in the fixture, creating 15 goal scoring opportunities across the two periods. Like crosstown rivals yesterday, they should have gotten the lead in the 10th minute but Christian Eriksen’s long-range effort towards the top right corner was stopped by substitute goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario.

Another Premier League import, Alexis Sanchez, was luckier than his counterpart. The Chilean went past Vicario’s guard eight minutes after Eriken’s attempt and hit the back of the net. Romelu Lukaku had expertly sent him through but it was to no avail. However, it was ruled offside as the linesman had his flag up despited Sanchez’s disagreement.

When the whistle was blown for half-time, a visibly irritated Antonio Conte headed towards the tunnel. Inter had commanded the tie but clear-cut chances remained far and few. Conte’s team talk saw the Nerazzurri impose themself further and bombarded their rivals with shots on goals.

Stefan De Vrij, Romelu Lukaku and Christian Eriksen all tried their luck from afar but it would not come to fruition. The towering Belgian forward also received an enticing header to which he connected by out jumping the defense but his header was wide of the right post.

Where Lukaku would fail, De Vrij would come close but would be denied too. The Dutch defender connected with an Eriksen cross inside the six-yard box from a corner kick. Had the ball been slightly, down, the goalkeeper would have been helpless to stop it but the ball clattered off the crossbar.

Despite their domination, Inter oozed of desperation as the final quarter-hour of regulation time came up. They were relieved of Conte’s impending hairdryer treatment by the fleet-footed Achraf Hakimi. The Morocco international squared the ball inside the box, which was met by Darmian. The on-loan defender had the easy task of tapping it inside and did it in style by putting it into the top of the net.

The score would not change further despite Joao Pedro and Radja Nainggolan trying to have their impact on the run of play. Inter held their nerves and ensured that Cagliari do not have anything to show from their travels to Milan.

It was the 9th successive Serie A victory for Inter, while their unbeaten run stretches to 11 games in all competitions. With the squad performing to Conte’s tunes, the long wait for Serie A triumph will surely finish with room to spare.

Meanwhile, it was Cagliari’s fourth defeat in succession. With eight games remaining until the end of the campaign, the Sardinians have a tough task on their hands. Leonardo Semplici needs a positive turnaround or his stint at the Sardegna Arena will not last long.



April 11, 2021 – Serie A 2020-21 Round 30

SCORERS: 77′ Darmian

INTER (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni; Darmian (84′ D’Ambrosio), Sensi (81′ Vecino), Brozovic, Eriksen (81′ Gagliardini), Young (70′ Hakimi); Sanchez (70′ Lautaro Martinez), Lukaku (Padelli, Radu, Ranocchia, Perisic, Pinamonti) Coach: Conte
CAGLIARI (3-5-2): Vicario; Rugani (85′ Simeone), Godin, Carboni; Zappa (91′ Cerri), Marin, Nainggolan, Duncan (72′ Asamoah), Nandez; Pavoletti (91′ Pereiro), Joao Pedro (Aresti, Ciocci, Tripaldelli, Klavan, Calabresi, Lykogiannis, Walukiewicz) Coach: Semplici

REFEREE: Mr. Pairetto from Nichelino
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Brozovic (I), Nainggolan (C); Extra Time: 1st Half 1′, 2nd Half 3′