How to change a game. Mauro Icardi lead his Inter to a 3-1 win at Stadio Olimpico, after Roma dominated the first half and hit the posts 3 times following an early goal by Edin Dzeko.
While the final score may suggest an outclassing away performance by coach Luciano Spalletti’s boys, reality tells of a match where the Giallorossi were in full control, before Inter’s Argentinian captain woke up and turned the tables with two goals.
The Milano side looked puzzled and with few ideas, as Roma took control of the operations since the very opening whistle. Defender Aleks Kolarov produced an unexpected shot that landed on Samir Handanovic’s right post, in what was going to become a recurring pattern in the game. One minute later, Radja Nainggolan served Edin Dzeko with a perfectly timed lob pass to avoid offside. Last season’s top scorer controlled and put the ball in the net for Roma’s 1-0 at 15’.
40 minutes into the game, The Ninja Nainggolan, served by Grégoire Defrel, hit the goalie’s post for the second time with a terrific 20-metres shot. On the other hand, Inter could not produce more than a few long-range passes aimed at Icardi, but the captain’s engine still looked on its way to start.
Spalletti took counter measures at half time and substituted an insufficient Mauro Gagliardini with Joao Mario, and then a few minutes later pulled out left back Yuto Nagatomo. New joiner from Nice Dalbert Henrique took the Japanese’s place.
Substitutions didn’t seem to change the trend of the game, as Roma kept attacking and – three’s a charm! – saw the chances for a well-deserved second goal vanish once again when a cannot shot by striker Diego Perotti was stopped by the crossbar.
And that is exactly when the match took an unexpected turn. A seemingly innocuous long pass from Roma’s defensive line was intercepted by Antonio Candreva in the midfield area. Inter’s winger was left free to advance and serve Mauro Icardi, whose conclusion landed past goalkeeper Alisson and rebalanced the game.
Giallorossi were shocked at a goal that came out of nowhere, and tried to regain an immediate lead, making the game a fun one to watch. Roma’s furious assault produced a lob shot by The Pharaoh Stephan El Shaarawy, which Dalbert literally took out of the net with an acrobatic save.
Then coach Eusebio Di Francesco’s defensive line showed all its limits, when Ivan Perisic accelerated on the left side and crossed for Mauro Icardi. The Argentinian moved past center back Federico Fazio and converted for Inter’s 2-1 lead.
Icardi’s 4th mark in two matches put him ahead of the top scorers list, together with Juventus’ number 10 Paulo Dybala, author of a hat trick earlier in the afternoon against Genoa. Maurito could have scored again just one minute later, when he dashed past Roma’s confused defenders to receive a great pass from Borja Valero, but this time Alisson drove back his shot.
Di Francesco sent in Turkish forward Cengiz Under for midfielder Daniele De Rossi, in an attempt to catch a late equalizer, but that threw the team’s balance off even further. Perisic replicated his run on the left side, leaving again Juan Jesus in his dust, to found Matias Vecino’s conversion for the final 3-1.
It ended with the Nerazzurri supporters chanting “Solo la Lazio, a Roma solo la Lazio!” (“Lazio is the only team in Rome”), a reference to Inter’s traditional friendship with the other football tenants of the Eternal City, and the ultimate mockery for a team that will need to quickly forget such an unexpected setback.