It was a good Sunday for Inter as they beat Sampdoria 4-0 while Parma drew at Bologna. As a result, Inter moved back into fifth place, two points ahead of Parma, who Inter meet next weekend.
- Report: Sampdoria 0-4 Inter Milan
It was a rare goal outburst by Inter as a brace by Mauro Icardi and goals from Walter Samuel and Rodrigo Palacio helped Inter to their biggest win since beating Sassuolo 7-0 back in September.
Red card changed game
Inter were somewhat lucky to be in front when Sampdoria were reduced to 10-men after only 20 minutes. Sampdoria's Citadin Eder engaged in some off the ball handbags with Samuel and was shown his second yellow card, while the Inter defender was given a yellow card.
This was a physical match with 39 fouls committed by the two teams, one red card and nine yellow cards. But credit to Inter for staying calm in what at times was some brutal play from Sampdoria; how Nenad Krsticic was not given a straight red for a cynical take-down of Ricky Alverez in the second half I don’t know.
The final score does not take into account the performance of Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic who was simply world class. I have been critical of Handanovic this season, as I don't think he has been as consistent as he needs to be. But in the first half on Sunday, Handanovic was not only good, he was out of this world.
In the opening 45 minutes Handanovic made three incredible saves to keep Inter in the game. Four minutes after Icardi had put Inter ahead, Andrea Ranocchia brought down Daniele Gastaldello in the penalty area. But Handanovic stood tall and saved Maxi Lopez's penalty.
He then followed this up with fantastic diving saves against Gianluca Sansone and Roberto Soriano to keep Inter ahead at halftime. If it had not been for those first half saves by Handanovic, Inter do not win on Sunday.
To the surprise, and delight, of many Inter supporters, manager Walter Mazzarri gave a surprising start to Mateo Kovacic on Sunday and the young midfielder did not disappoint with a terrific performance,
Inter fans have been demanding that Mazzarri play Kovacic and the Inter boss finally gave the fans what they wanted, starting the talented Croatian alongside Hernanes and Esteban Cambiasso in the Inter midfield.
Mazzarri's criticism of Kovacic's play is that he forgets his defensive responsibilities at times, so the Inter boss will be happy to see that Kovacic led the team with four tackles won on Sunday. But it was more than just Kovacic's defensive play that stood out. He was at his most dangerous when picking up the ball in midfield and running at the Sampdoria defence, and creating chances for the forwards. While he did not get on the scoresheet, Kovacic was instrumental in the buildups to a couple of Inter’s goals on Sunday.
He gave Inter an energy and enthusiasm in midfield which have been missing when Fredy Guarin or Alvarez have played. Hopefully Sunday's performance will mean a steady run of games now for Kovacic.
While Icardi has thrived in Mazzarri's two-man attack, his partner Rodrigo Palacio has not had the impact in recent games that he had earlier in the season when he was the lone striker. But on Sunday, Palacio turned in his best performance of the season, with a goal and two assists. Whoscored.com gave Palacio a 9.6 rating, in what was a brilliant performance.
Icardi showing his talent
Inter striker Mauro Icardi seemingly makes any many headlines for his off the field exploits than he does on the pitch. But with five goals in his last five games, the Inter hitman is enjoying his best form in an Inter shirt.
Icardi started his Inter career with two goals in his first four games before his hernia injury sidelined him for months. His recent form leaves you wondering how this season would have turned out if Icardi had been fit all season?
Heading to Parma with confidence
With five games left in the season, Inter have a two-point lead over Parma, making next weekend's trip to Parma arguably the most important game of the season. After a four game winless streak, Inter will now travel to Parma with a bit of confidence thanks to Sunday's win. And in Icardi, Inter have the hottest striker in Serie A at the moment.