Mauro Icardi stars as Inter Milan come back to beat Chievo
Inter did it again on Saturday night, overturning a deficit in the dying minutes to snag a fifth straight Serie A win. Having conceded against the run of play to that old fox Sergio Pellissier on 34 minutes, the Nerazzurri kept plugging away, with their hard running, dominant possession and attacking flair being rewarded when Mauro Icardi slid onto an Antonio Candreva cross to level the scores with 21 minutes to go. A frantic finish saw Ivan Perisic slip by his marker to power a shot past accomplice Stefano Sorrentino, before Eder made it three in the 93rd minute.
The team was energetic throughout, but also ratcheted up the intensity at will. The players looked comfortable and composed on the ball, even when Chievo's very disciplined defending kept the score frustratingly level. It's early days, but Roberto Gagliardini looks to be a sensational young talent. The midfield has regained its bite, the defence was mostly alert and Ivan Perisic now turns games with a flick of his right foot.
Danilo D'Ambrosio's mistake could have cost Inter very dear. All this talk of deserving five goals was overstated, there weren't enough clear-cut chances. Sorrentino may have been good, but it was his blunder that let Inter in, his defence arguably outclassing him by admirably filling every gap before then.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- The turnaround is all Stefano Pioli. His vision is coming to life: the midfield press is remorseless, the squad galvanised, the players swirling around the ball like the sentinels in the Matrix Trilogy. The substitutions were nothing less than a triumph.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Samir Handanovic, 6 -- Had very little to do. A welcome contrast for the hero of many a siege.
DF Danilo D'Ambrosio, 5 -- Shouldn't have let Pellissier mug him for the opener. The only defender to make an obvious mistake. Put a lot of energy into his performance, but didn't make an impact up front.
DF Joao Miranda, 7 -- There's a reason Chievo barely had a chance in this game: he stuck to his man like a limpet, and looked in control.
DF Jeison Murillo, 7 -- The Flying Donkeys never had any joy going through the middle, even with tricky customer Riccardo Meggiorini, or when they countered against an apparently exposed back line. Disciplined. A positive development.
DF Cristian Ansaldi, 6 -- Was rightly hooked when his impact was diminishing. Still can't quite find consistency up front, but didn't put a foot wrong at the back.
MF Roberto Gagliardini, 7 -- Wow. Excellent read on the game, instinctively twisting and turning on the ball to completely change the direction of an attack. Great defensive work, confident on the ball and clever in his runs. This kid could be special.
MF Geoffrey Kondogbia, 7 -- Shoved opponents off the ball effortlessly, made some nice tackles and showed an improved range of passing. The confidence is slowly returning, with Kondogbia eliminating his marker with some nifty close-range dribbling.
MF Joao Mario, 6 -- Less impactful than usual, declined in the second half and failed to make runs through the middle. Still looked composed on the ball, though he did fluff what could have been a killer one-two with Icardi.
MF Antonio Candreva, 6 -- Frustratingly inaccurate with his crossing, at least until he teed up Icardi for the leveller with a stunning ball. Needs more of an end product.
FW Mauro Icardi, 8 -- Spent 90 minutes running onto everything, and also found time to score a goal and pick an opponent's pocket to set up Perisic's winner. Worked hard trying to set up the one-two, but his teammates need to make the right runs.
MF Ivan Perisic, 7 -- Prime time Perisic. Though Sorrentino gifted him the winner, the Croatian was almost owed a goal after he sent an inswinger just wide. Superb defensive effort, though he always looks for the spectacular option rather than the most efficient one. Icardi is still underserved in the middle.
FW Eder, 7 -- Finally seems to have found a home, albeit on the left of an attacking three with Perisic shifting to left wing-back. His finish for the clincher was crisp, though he had a tendency to shoot early. Made some very sharp runs.
FW Ever Banega, 7 -- Ideal for situations when Inter are controlling the flow, but need someone to pick the lock. Kept releasing teammates in space, contributing to the buildup to the third goal.
FW Rodrigo Palacio, 6 -- That assist for the third was something else. Tireless runner.
Edoardo Dalmonte covers Inter Milan for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @EdoDalmonte.