Mauro Icardi scores crucial goal as Inter get deserved 1-0 win vs. Chievo
Roberto Mancini needed a reaction and he got one with a 1-0 win vs. Chievo on Wednesday night. Maybe it was the superlative lob he scored in training that inspired his team. Do as I do if you won't do as I say.
The first half saw Inter dominate the game from the opening minute: they were composed at the back but offensively, they looked like a different team. Gary Medel broke up the play and Marcelo Brozovic acted as the conductor, allowing Geoffrey Kondogbia to get forward and have one of his best games of the season. Eder, Mauro Icardi and Rodrigo Palacio played with purpose and had if not been for Andrea Seculin in the opposing goal, they could have been three or four goals up before half-time. Instead, they went in level.
Inter started the second half as they had finished the first, putting the "Flying Donkeys" under immediate pressure. Icardi managed to push the ball home early on, scoring for the first time since he struck against Empoli in week 18. The Argentinian later hit the crossbar and was denied again by Seculin as they looked to improve their lead.
Mancini's side continued to press and create some superb chances. The team switched to a 3-5-2 towards the end to secure the lead and despite coming under pressure in the final 10 minutes, Inter hung on for a well-deserved win.
GK Samir Handanovic, 6 -- Inter's player of the season so far started well in clearing up after Miranda's early error, with little to do for the rest of the game.
DF Yuto Nagatomo, 5 -- He looked lively early on and got into some good positions but his final ball was not consistent enough. The second half saw him improve; he looked a threat going forward but his good work was undone as he got booked for a poor challenge, looking vulnerable late on when Chievo pressed.
DF Jeison Murillo, 6 -- After some inconsistent weeks he looked dominant again and won most of the aerial battles when challenged. Overall a solid display.
DF Joao Miranda, 5 -- Inter's normally composed centre-back looked rattled in the opening salvos but his experience allowed him to grow into the game quickly. Gave away a free kick in the second half that could have cost his team. Not his best performance in a Nerazzurri shirt.
DF Alex Telles, 6 -- The Brazilian often impresses with his willingness to get on the ball and today was no different. He produced some excellent crosses and proved why he should be a constant in the starting XI.
MF Marcelo Brozovic, 6 -- The Croatian was the Nerazzurri's metronome in the early stages, helping Kondogbia shine in the attacking third. He had a great chance well saved after 33 minutes and was unlucky not to score. His free kick almost made it 2-0 in the second period. Looked good breaking forward but his first touch let him down at times.
MF Gary Medel, 6 -- The Chilean harried and chased, breaking up the play in the early stages. He did his job well, giving the ball to the full-backs or allowing Brozovic to start their forays forward. Performed his defensive duties superbly all game, helping the defence immeasurably.
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MF Geoffrey Kondogbia, 7 -- The enthusiastic start was encouraging as and early chance and an excellent cross offered an early conclusion that the shackles were off. Here retreated into a deeper role after the goal which helped the team control the game. One of his better games for the team.
FW Eder, 7 -- Inter's new striker nearly scored early in the Derby and also nearly netted early on against Chievo, forcing a good save from Seculin. Very impressive as he drifted out left and look a constant threat. One of the liveliest players on the pitch for the Nerazzurri.
FW Rodrigo Palacio, 6 -- The veteran striker had a glorious chance to shoot after showing signs of his old self early on, but his decision to pass was the wrong one. Encouraging, energetic display until his substitution so Inter could change formation.
FW Mauro Icardi, 7 -- It would have been the perfect response as the Argentine nearly broke the wrists of Seculin in the Chievo goal after only 10 minutes. A superb first half topped off by a strike from fully 45 yards that nearly went over the goalkeeper and into the open goal. He scored early in the second half from close range, his ninth goal of the season. A much improved display.Substitutes:
FW Juan Jesus, NR -- On for Palacio on 77 minutes so Inter could go to a 3-5-2.
MF Adem Ljajic, NR -- Came on for Eder with seven minutes to go.
MF Felipe Melo, NR -- Came on for Marcelo Brozovic with minutes to go.
Richard Hall is an Italian football writer contributing to ESPN, The Guardian, Daily Mail, IBWM and Football Italia. Follow him on Twitter @Gentleman_Ultra.