Inter Milan deliver on the road against Lazio to end Serie A losing streak
Inter put an end to their four-game Serie A losing streak with a hard-fought 3-1 win against Lazio.
The hosts didn't waste any time as Keita Balde was brought down in the box by Jeison Murillo and converted the resulting penalty inside 19 minutes.
Stefano Vecchi's men reacted well, equalising when veteran benchwarmer Marco Andreolli surged onto an Ivan Perisic header to power home the equaliser. But Inter found themselves leading at the half when Wesley Hoedt carelessly turned in an Antonio Candreva cross shortly after.
An exciting second half saw both sides threaten, only for Lazio to hit the bar through Ciro Immobile and have their wings cruelly clipped by a bad call, Keita being unjustly sent off when he should have won a penalty. Eder hammered in the final nail with 16 minutes to go.
Inter took their chances in a game where only two shots on goal were recorded by the 40th minute. The wingers constantly ran at Lazio's defence, and Eder had a very positive game. The Nerazzurri were generally able to hold Lazio off well after a difficult start and it was refreshing to see the team play with more assertiveness on the road, something quite rare this season.
The devil is in the details: Inter's defenders were assisted by referee Marco Di Bello, who unfairly sent off Keita and even spared Murillo before the Colombian was subbed off. It says a lot that Yuto Nagatomo had a good day, and yet had to shove Sergej Milinkovic-Savic just outside the box to avoid the worst. Eder's good performance might seem like a confirmation of Mauro Icardi's inactivity, but it actually did the opposite: the Brazilian was often left to his own devices, confirming that Inter are often too stretched.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Vecchi mostly got his tactics right, managing to keep Lazio at arm's length for long stretches, while also pressing and forcing turnovers deep in enemy territory. Seeing the players motivated and energised was a wonderful contrast with recent times, especially last season's 2-0 loss here.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Samir Handanovic, 6 -- Couldn't do much on the penalty, but didn't have to make any saves, either, beyond swatting away a dangerous cross.
DF Danilo D'Ambrosio, 7 -- Reacted very well to Senad Lulic's early running, and even better to being shifted inside. Had only one lapse, allowing Immobile to hit the bar, though that owed more to the striker's prowess than any defensive error.
DF Jeison Murillo, 4 -- Lucky not to be flagged for two penalties. Indicative that his replacement, D'Ambrosio, didn't struggle nearly as much.
DF Marco Andreolli, 7 -- Calm and composed. Why was he benched for so long? Took his chance well. Hadn't scored a Serie A goal in three years and three days.
DF Yuto Nagatomo, 6 --. Actually looked good going forwards, and fought Felipe Anderson valiantly, once recovering after being nutmegged. Was spared by referee Di Bello for his shove on Milinkovic-Savic.
MF Gary Medel, 5 -- Should have given away a penalty and didn't quite seem to be in tune with the rest of the team. Didn't really bring the defensive contribution one would expect, and his passing can be poor.
MF Marcelo Brozovic, 6 -- Alternated the slapdash with the silky. Failed after a nice pass from Perisic and took an unnecessary shot when he could have passed. Then was involved in the buildup to the third, and his good feet shone through on that occasion.
MF Roberto Gagliardini, 6 -- Recovered after a difficult start, often finding the full-backs in good positions.
MF Antonio Candreva, 7 -- Ran hard for 90 minutes, and managed two monster tackles on Lulic. A refreshing contrast to his recent games, though the own goal he caused still came from a poor cross. Was left hanging when a far better one was missed by Eder.
MF Ivan Perisic, 7 -- Was absolutely everywhere, whether it was tracking back to dispossess opponents or trying to get something going with Nagatomo or Brozovic on the left. Even performed well when he was shifted inside.
FW, Eder, 8 -- Took his goal well and fought for absolutely everything. His highlight: an exceptional run which took out several opponents, before the Brazilian himself was fouled on the edge of the penalty area. Lazio resorted to just scything him down at one stage, so elusive was he.
DF Davide Santon, 7 -- Was very convincing indeed in relief for D'Ambrosio. Didn't seem to struggle against Keita at all, and made three interceptions.
FW Andrea Pinamonti, N/R -- Participated in the build-up without getting a chance to shine.
MF, Ever Banega, N/R -- Managed to throw away a big chance towards the end, but one got the feeling that nobody quite knew what was going on.
Edoardo Dalmonte covers Inter Milan for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @EdoDalmonte.