Udinese vs Inter 3-1: Rampant Friulians Climb to Serie A Summit

High-flying Udinese stunned Scudetto-bidding Inter 3-1 at the Dacia Arena in Sunday’s curtain-raising Serie A fixture to temporarily move to the summit. The visitors were utterly outclassed by their relentless hosts, who have won their fifth straight league match for the first time since December 2017.

Inspired by consecutive victories over Torino and Viktoria Plzen in Serie A and the Champions League, respectively, Inter enjoyed a flying start to the match. Nicolo Barella slotted home a stunning free-kick from the edge of the box only five minutes in to put the visiting side in front and send travelling fans into a frenzy. 

However, it swiftly proved that the abovementioned run of victories ‘to nil’ was a temporary response to Inter’s ongoing form crisis. Last season’s Serie A runners-up returned to their old habits as head coach Simone Inzaghi pulled his troops back instantaneously in a bid to defend a slender lead. 

As is often the case in football, Inter were punished for relinquishing possession and allowing Udinese to sniff around their penalty area for most of the first half. Robert Pereyra whipped the ball in from a long-range free-kick, with an unlucky deflection off Milan Skriniar ending up in the back of the net. 

Despite failing to produce a single shot on target in the opening 45 minutes, Udinese deserved that 22nd-minute equaliser as they were a far better team before the break. Aware of his side’s disappointing performance, Inzaghi made a strange call midway through the first half, making a double change. 

Federico Dimarco and Roberto Gagliardini replaced Alessandro Bastoni and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but Inter continued to struggle for clear-cut opportunities. On the other hand, Udinese had their chances through Gerard Deulofeu, who hit the post, with the visiting defenders blocking Lazar Samardzic on the follow-up. 

With momentum firmly on their side, Udinese continued to put pressure, forcing Samir Handanovic to make a couple of decent saves to keep Inter afloat. The Nerrazzurri tried to hurt their host on the counter, but failed to orchestrate anything meaningful in the front third. 

Meanwhile, Udinese struck again from a set-piece. Deulofeu sent in an inviting ball from the corner, with Jaka Bijol turning it home with a delightful header to complete the turnaround. Second-half substitute Tolgay Arslan put the icing on the cake dip inside the stoppage time, getting on the end of Deulofeu’s cross and heading it in off the crossbar. 

While Udinese proved that a 4-0 thumping of Roma at Friuli a fortnight ago was no fluke, Inzaghi’s Inter will have to regroup during the international break to avoid falling out of the Scudetto pace early in the season.