Martinez Header Takes Inter Nine Points Clear After Win in Torino

In Round 27 of Serie A, Inter were in the hunt for the eighth consecutive win as they traveled to Northern Italy to face the relegation strugglers Torino.

Coming into this game, Antonio Conte’s men had a six-point lead over their cross-city rivals Milan, whereas Torino were two points behind the safety zone, albeit the hosts had the same number of games in hand.

A six-point lead at the top of the standings was extended to nine points, with Lautaro Martinez scoring a stunning header in the 85th minute of the game to hand Inter another massive three points.

In the opening minutes of the game, both teams exchanged short spells of possession, with Inter causing more threat in the final third area.

Consequently, the first chance of the game fell to the visiting team as Ivan Perisic surged down the left-wing and whipped in a delightful cross to the near post for the arriving Martinez. The Argentine banged in a header at goal from near the penalty spot, but it lacked accuracy and the ball spun past the left post.

It did not take long until Inter took complete control of the game, with Torino rarely breaking out of their half. The visitors were knocking the ball around with confidence from side to side, trying to stretch Torino’s compact 5-3-2 defensive block and supply the striker duo in Romelu Lukaku and Martinez.

However, the Nerazzurri were struggling to turn their possession into clear goal-scoring opportunities, as the ball rarely found its way to either of the strikers. Overall, Torino looked solid and comfortable in protecting the dangerous areas in and around their box.

The opening half an hour went by with both teams creating virtually no real goal-scoring opportunities on either end. In short, Torino were unable to keep the ball for longer periods, whilst Inter could not involve Martinez and Lukaku in a game.

Nevertheless, after 20 minutes of Inter’s dominance in possession, Torino found a rare opportunity to burst forward and managed to earn a free-kick inside the final third area. Simone Verdi delivered the cross to the far post where Lyanco found himself completely unmarked, but as he headed the ball down towards the goal, it planted against the right post and glanced away off it.

The final minutes of the opening interval did not serve any dangerous action on either end of the pitch.

The opening stages of the second half were a continuation of what we saw during the first 45 minutes. Inter immediately took control of the game by dominating possession, with Torino retrieving deep and making it hard for Inter to play through them.

Nonetheless, three minutes into the second half, Inter had their first chance to score as Milan Skriniar timed his run into the box perfectly and slammed a header goalwards from the center of the box, but it lacked accuracy and flew wide of the left post.

A couple of minutes later, Inter were on the attack again. This time, it was Roberto Gagliardini, who drifted forward from the midfield area and found himself in the middle of the penalty box. The Italian got on the end of the cross from Achraf Hakimi but failed to properly control the header, with the ball spinning narrowly wide of the left post.

Unfortunately for the home side, their relentless defending for more than an hour was finally undone with one careless action inside their own penalty box. At first, Marcelo Brozovic played a decent ball into the feet of Lukaku, who wriggled it through to Martinez as the Argentine was kicked from behind by Torino defender Armando Izzo. The referee immediately pointed to the penalty spot, with Lukaku calmly sending the ball into the right corner of the net, making it 1-0 to Inter.

Following Lukaku’s successful penalty conversion, the visitors kept on pilling pressure in search of their second goal of the afternoon. In the 65th minute, Inter came very close to putting the game to bed as Martinez played a low ball across the penalty area which was met by the arriving Hakimi. The Moroccan international found himself in a great scoring position, but Salvatore Sirigu denied him with a great save.

It looked like Hakimi’s missed chance will see Inter dropping two points, as Torino managed to equalize with their first attack in the second half. Samir Handanovic made an initial good save to deny Simone Zaza, but it was Antonio Sanabria who found himself in the right place at the right time to get to the rebound inside the box and elegantly rifled the ball low inside the right post, making it 1-1 to Torino.

Following Torino’s equalizer, Inter seemed a little lost over the next ten minutes, with the home side continuing defending deep in their half and blocking all the passing channels through the middle.

However, the introduction of Alexis Sanchez in the final ten minutes of the match sparked Inter’s revival. The Chilean international delivered a wonderful cross into the box, which found the head of his South American counterpart Martinez. The Argentine bravely launched himself at the cross and gave Sirigu no chance with a close-range bullet header into the bottom right corner.

Although not the most convincing performance from the Serie A leaders, it turned out to be another statement win by the Nerazzurri in the surge of their first Scudetto in 11 years.



March 14, 2021 – Serie A 2020-2021 Round 27

SCORERS: 62′ Lukaku (I, pen.), 70′ Sanabria (T), 85′ Lautaro Martinez (I)

TORINO (3-5-2): Sirigu; Izzo, Lyanco, Bremer; Vojvoda (88′ Gojak), Baselli (49′ Linetty), Mandragora, Lukic, Murru (67′ Ansaldi); Verdi (67′ Zaza), Sanabria (88′ Belotti) (Milinkovic-Savic, Ujkani, Buongiorno, Ferigra, Rodriguez, Bonazzoli) Coach: Nicola
INTER (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni; Hakimi (88′ Darmian), Barella, Brozovic (80′ Sanchez), Gagliardini (56’ Eriksen), Perisic (56’ Young); Lautaro Martinez (88′ Vecino), Lukaku (Padelli, Radu, Ranocchia, Pinamonti, Sensi) Coach: Stellini (replacing Conte)

REFEREE: Mr. Valeri from Rome
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Gagliardini (I)