Inter survive Parma scare, but serious doubts hang over Inzaghi’s Nerazzurri

Inter needed an 88th-minute strike from Lautaro Martinez to get to extra time against out-of-form Serie B side Parma, and the Coppa Italia holders were beyond fortunate to progress to the quarter-finals.

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STADIO GIUSEPPE MEAZZA (Milan) – Few would have expected reigning champions Inter to be taken all the way to the second half of extra time against Serie B opposition in Parma in their Coppa Italia Round of 16 tie, but that’s exactly the position they found themselves in. Simone Inzaghi even brought on Milan Skriniar in the 113th minute to help see things out as they claimed the narrowest of 2-1 come-from-behind wins.

Despite Parma only having one win from their last six games in Serie B, the Gialloblu caused more problems for the Serie A side than anybody could have imagined, and that’s without them even showing much attacking intent. Franco Vazquez started at the tip of their attack, and one of their most dangerous players – at least on his day – in Dennis Man had to come off midway through the first half. 

Man’s replacement, Stanko Juric, stunned those in attendance at the Meazza by firing Parma into a 38th-minute lead as he rifled a first-time strike into the top corner that Andre Onana couldn’t get near. 

That it took until the 88th minute for Inter to equalise, or even get a shot on target, and that it took a World Cup winner in Lautaro Martinez to do it, goes a long way to describing the kind of performance the hosts put on. Francesco Acerbi won it for Inter with an excellent header deep into extra time.

Parma’s Stanko Juric scores against Inter in the Coppa Italia. (@ParmaCalcio_en)

Inter’s superiority showed, but…

Watching things unfold at the Meazza, it would have been hard at times to pick out which was the apparently superior side, and it was only in those moments where neither side had the ball that Inter’s top-flight status was evident – they were first to almost even 50-50 ball, and almost always won a foul as a result of a Parma player having to stretch to make up the lost ground. That aside, Simone Inzaghi’s side were woeful for the majority of the game. 

Mostly, though, Inter’s extra bit of quality was seen by their lack of precision at vital moments. Adrian Bernabe uncharacteristically overhit a pass through to Man that should have put the Romanian clear beyond Inter’s backline, and he did similarly to spoil a 70th-minute counterattack that had the Crociati galloping forward with three players against just one Inter defender. Usually perfect with his passing, Bernabe would no doubt have been more annoyed at himself than anybody.

There was nothing, though, for Inter to take any positives from, and that’s despite having a number of title-winning players on the pitch and options on the bench as well. Edin Dzeko came on alongside Federico Dimarco and Raoul Bellanova towards the end, and the hosts did start to play with a little more urgency. Francesco Acerbi and Matteo Darmian followed them in joining the action later.

Lautaro Martinez for Inter against Parma. (@Inter)

Where does Inzaghi stand?

Far from wanting to wish additional pressure on a coach, but given the scrutiny that has surrounded some of Simone Inzaghi’s peers this season – namely Massimiliano Allegri and Jose Mourinho – it might be nearing the point of real questions being asked of Inzaghi’s place at Inter, or at least demanded that things start to improve soon.

Replacing Antonio Conte was never likely to be an easy job and it wasn’t helped by the departures of some big-name players in the summer of 2021, but Inter only had themselves to blame for not getting over the line and defending their status as Serie A champions last season, and they’ve looked a long way off the pace this term despite their recent win over runaway leaders Napoli. Following that win over the Partenopei up by throwing away a lead late on against Monza poses real questions of Inzaghi’s Inter and their capabilities. 

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