Ivan Perisic stars as Inter Milan's Champions League hopes fade
Inter travelled to the Eternal City knowing that a win would help them claw ground back on their Rome rivals in the search for a Champions League spot. Rivalries were also rekindled between managers as Roberto Mancini faced his old sparring partner Luciano Spalletti, giving the game a nostalgic feel along with an air of expectancy.
Inter's objective before the season was Champions League football, Erick Thohir had made that clear. Roberto Mancini approached the game with a tactical calmness that hasn't been seen since the start of the season. They absorbed the pressure and tried to hit on the counter-attack and went in at half-time goalless.
The second half continued as the first had finished with Inter playing on the break. Ivan Perisic saw Mancini's plans come to life as he scored and the Nerazzurri's strategy looked to be paying dividends. It looked as if it could be crucial as the Milanese thought they may record their first victory against the Giallorossi since 2008. It wasn't to be as Radja Nainggolan equalised late into the second half. Inter can be proud of their performance but will leave Rome knowing the Champions League is almost out of sight.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Samir Handanovic, 7 -- Inter's No. 1 pulled off a fantastic save from Stephan El Shaarawy in the first half continuing his exceptional form and could not be faulted all game. His distribution was superb also which is his only problem in some games. He made some solid saves in the second half, faultless for the goal conceded.
DF Danilo D'Ambrosio, 6 -- The man of the match against Bologna held his position well as Inter sat deep early on. He was tactically smart against Roma and played his part for the team exceptionally well.
DF Joao Miranda, 7 -- The Brazilian was stalwart and rigid, following Mancini's game plan to the letter. He performed the role of a leader vocally and positionally. Fantastic in the second half as Roma pressed.
DF Jeison Murillo, 6 -- He admitted in recent weeks that his form has dipped, but he looked orderly and professional under the lights of the Stadio Olimpico. Always better when next to Miranda but much improved.
DF Yuto Nagatomo, 6 -- The Japanese full-back looked sharp early on, especially when he cut out an early ball across the box. Professional, regimented and quick, he showed his better side in this game. Caught out positionally later on he showed once again he lacks some areas of "football intelligence."
MF Gary Medel, 7 -- The Chilean had a lot of work to do early on as Roma pushed hard to break down Inter's back line. He was brave on more than one occasion putting his body on the line, and helped his defence out time and time again.
MF Marcelo Brozovic, 6 -- The Croatian had a muscle problem before the game but you would not have been able to tell. He was creative and made Roma's midfield sit deeper than they would have liked. He failed to manage the game when play was broken up on more than one occasion.
FW Jonathan Biabiany, 7 -- The Frenchman chased and harried causing Roma no end of problems. You cannot fault his effort and his positional discipline, although he struggled to get on the ball as much as he would have liked. As the game got more stretched his pace became more effective but played the role of a full-back rather than a winger which is no insult.
FW Adem Ljajic, 6 -- The Serbian was certainly motivated for the game against his old club. He was determined to be a difference maker and even showed defensive qualities at times. He did not always connect with the team though and looked as if he was trying too hard at times.
FW Ivan Perisic, 8 -- He continued to impress with his defensive duties when Roma attacked early on. The Croatian looks more and more like the complete player as he managed the transitions from attack to defence better than anyone else. His fourth goal in four games was taken in style.
FW Eder, 6 -- The winter signing moved constantly trying to be an option. Perhaps his teammates were at fault for the lack of supply, ultimately leaving the ex-Sampdoria man chasing shadows.
MF Felipe Melo, N/R -- Had no time to influence the game.
FW Rey Manaj, N/R -- Too little too late.
Richard Hall is an Italian football writer contributing to ESPN, The Guardian, Daily Mail, IBWM and Football Italia. Follow him on Twitter @Gentleman_Ultra.