Danilo D'Ambrosio, Joao Miranda lead Inter Milan past Sampdoria
Inter Milan were expectant as they hosted Sampdoria in San Siro on Saturday night. Their 2016 had not gone to plan and defeats against Sassuolo, Milan and Fiorentina were not complemented with draws against Verona, Carpi and Atalanta. In fact, one of the few teams who were exhibiting worst form than Inter were the Blucerchiati, who had drawn two and lost three of their past five.
Roberto Mancini's men started slowly and seemed to be offering Sampdoria a chance to come into the game. Only when Danilo D'Ambrosio scored in the 23rd minute, a rare occurrence for the defender, did the Nerazzurri seem to come alive. However, this did not mean that Inter became dominant, but rather they were in control and had the better possession. They went into the break ahead 1-0 and with a real chance to readjust and dominate the second period.
Inter gave a lesson in good game management in the second period, although they were not very purposeful. This improved, though, during the half and Joao Miranda's 57th minute goal made it all but safe for the Nerazzurri. The lack of a clean sheet was the only thing that prevented a very professional display, even thought it was far from perfect. Mauro Icardi's third was much needed, as the Argentine struck the ball home from an acute angle. Despite the lack of supply during the match, he still proved how deadly he is.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Samir Handanovic, 6 -- Handanovic was quiet most of the first half and had little or nothing to do. He was vocal and calmed Miranda, who looked nervous early on. Inter's best player this season will appreciate the night off. Not much he could do for Fabio Quagliarella's late strike.
DF Yuto Nagatomo, 5 -- The Japanese full-back works hard but always lacks quality. Most of San Siro will continue asking the same question: "Why is he still in the first eleven?"
DF Jeison Murillo, 6 -- Perhaps the face mask affected his peripheral vision as the Colombian lost his man (especially Quagliarella) more than once early on. Once he ditched the head gear, he looked a different player and won more in the air.
DF Joao Miranda, 7 -- Inter's other center-back is normally calm personified. It was baffling however, that when Sampdoria pressed little he hit four or five inaccurate long balls with a panic not normally seen by him. Scored the second off a set piece and hopefully this will spur him on to attack dead balls in the same way.
DF Danilo D'Ambrosio, 7 -- The full-back seems one of the players more suited to manager Roberto Mancini's system, yet it was only his ninth appearance of the season. Solid all game and topped it off with a goal. Superb display from the Inter full-back.
MF Marcelo Brozovic, 6 -- The Croatian got himself into some excellent positions early on but had a few poor first touches. Nevertheless, he was constantly open for a pass.
MF Felipe Melo, 5 -- With a point to prove after some recent poor displays, it was a surprise how many early balls he gave away. Created nothing, failed to do his job properly and distributed the ball poorly. Grabbed an assist for the second, but that was his best moment.
MF Ivan Perisic, 6 -- The enthusiastic Croatian chased every ball from the first minute, which has been a characteristic of his play this season. His positional play was good, but he suffered as a result from the lack of balls out wide.
MF Jonathan Biabiany, 6 -- The Frenchman always works hard but his positioning is questionable. He frustratingly wins the ball or gets into positions in the wrong part of the field, leaving himself too much to do. Great work before Inter's first goal, however, and very industrious throughout.
FW Eder, 5 -- The 29-year-old seems to be suffering from Icardi's illness, he simply gets no supply. Great movement and a sense of familiarity with Icardi. Perhaps they are both missing a Trequartista?
FW Mauro Icardi, 7 -- It would be wrong to say that he was anonymous. Like Eder, his movement was exemplary but once again nobody helped feed him when he asked. Unfortunately, this is the story of the season; however, let's not forget he is in double figures this season, despite being left isolated. His 11th goal of the season came late on and showed how dangerous he is when given the ball. His chance-to-conversion rate is incredible.
MF Adem Ljajic, 6 -- Replaced Eder on 62 minutes and went into the Trequarista position, in which he flourished. It raises the question of why he doesn't start there more.
MF Assane Gnoukouri, NR -- Came on in place of Biabiany in the 79th minute. It was good to see him get more minutes on the pitch. A fantastic talent.
MF Stevan Jovetic, NR -- Came on for 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.