STADIO GIUSEPPE MEAZZA (Milan): There was no better way for Inter to respond to Juventus than annihilating Udinese 4-0 in a game that was all but wrapped up before half-time on Saturday evening of Matchday 15. The three points allowed the Nerazzurri to restore their two-point cushion over the Bianconeri at the top of the Serie A table.
Hakan Calhanoglu, Federico Dimarco and Marcus Thuram scored in quick succession in the closing stretch of the first half, reaping the rewards of a dominant opening 45 minutes during which the Zebrette were hardly seen in their opponents’ half.
Inter‘s marksman and star player Lautaro Martinez scored his 14th Serie A goal from 15 games in the second half to finish off another excellent performance from the Nerazzurri. They have won 10 of their last 13 matches across all competitions.
Inter take time to make their dominance count
Udinese immediately made their intention very clear as they squeezed into their own half and let the hosts control the early stages, a choice that only invited Inter‘s pressure onto them and led to a string of opportunities for the Nerazzurri.
After a couple of dangerous ventures down the left flank were somehow dealt with by the Bianconeri defence, a third pinpoint cross from Federico Dimarco was neatly headed against the post by Lautaro Martinez seconds before 10 minutes had been played.
Dimarco was involved again as he received a cut-back from Yann Bisseck at the end of an impressively worked team move, but his right-footed effort was charged down by Marco Silvestri.
The hosts’ dominance was eventually halted after 15 minutes as the visitors broke down the right with Lazar Samardzic, but Roberto Pereyra wasted the Serb’s pass by firing wide from a good position.
Thuram and Calhanoglu had further chances and when everyone at the Stadio Meazza was probably wondering how they hadn’t seen a goal, Inter were presented with their biggest opportunity thanks to Lautaro Martinez. The Argentine’s attempt to pounce on another Dimarco‘s cross was foolishly hindered by countryman Nehuen Perez, resulting in a penalty following a VAR review.
In charge of the task was Calhanoglu, who maintained his 100% success rate from the spot by putting his side ahead with his eighth Serie A goal of the season.
The Turk was decisive again shortly after, this time with a brilliant recovery at the edge of the Udinese box that had him help the ball to his left for Dimarco, whose first-time shot found bottom corner.
Thuram‘s goal, Inter‘s third in the space of seven minutes, was the consequence of an away side crumbling against another oozing confidence and motivation. It was Henrikh Mkhitaryan who found the French striker at the far post, paving the way for a simple tap-in.
Lautaro put the icing on the cake of Inter’s performance
Udinese delayed their return to the pitch for the second half, sparking deafening boos from the stands, but there were no changes when the game got going again, with Inter effortlessly controlling the proceedings.
Simone Inzaghi took advantage of the comfortable lead to make a double chance to spare Alessandro Bastoni and Thuram some minutes with a view to Tuesday’s Champions League clash against Real Sociedad.
The Nerazzurri gradually loosened their pressure in an attempt to save their energy, but with Udinese seemingly more interested in not losing by a wider margin than creating threats the pace of the game was inevitably affected as a result.
There was a reason though, amidst all the foreseeable changes, that Inzaghi decided to keep Lautaro on the pitch.
After more than 80 minutes, the Argentinian showed all his desire to return to the scoresheet by winning the ball back in midfield and sprinting towards the area before firing in with precision from the edge of the area.
The win sends Inter back to the top of the Serie A table, having been overtaken temporarily by Juventus just 24 hours earlier. The Nerazzurri have 38 points after their 15 games to the Old Lady’s 36.