Inter launch second-half comeback to beat AS Roma in six-goal thriller

AS Roma were leading Inter at half-time on Serie A Matchday 24, but a strong second-half showing from the Nerazzurri secured all three points and reaffirmed their scudetto credentials.

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STADIO OLIMPICO (Rome): If anyone still needs convincing of Inter’s champion credentials, politely ask them to watch this game. On Saturday night, the Nerazzurri travelled to the Eternal City and won 4-2 against an AS Roma side that had not lost at the Olimpico since September in any competition.

Not only that, but they did it without their suspended coach Simone Inzaghi, under torrential rain, in front of a hostile crowd and after coming back from a half-time deficit.

There was plenty for the Giallorossi to be pleased with too; Daniele De Rossi’s more attacking approach caused all sorts of problems before the break, when goals from Gianluca Mancini and Stephan El Shaarawy responded to a Francesco Acerbi opener.

But Inter moved into another gear after the break, Marcus Thuram scoring one and forcing an Angelino equaliser for another to restore Inter’s lead before a late Alessandro Bastoni strike made sure of the points.

Vital win for Inter after strong AS Roma start

AS Roma defender Gianluca Mancini celebrates after scoring (@OfficialASRoma)

It was a vastly different win to last week’s slender Derby d’Italia victory, but every bit as important, as Inter continued their march towards a 20th Scudetto by moving seven points clear on top ahead of Juventus’ clash with Udinese on Monday.

If ever there was a neat example of Roma’s change in attitude and approach under De Rossi, it was the first 10 minutes here.

The Lupi exploded out of the blocks, pinning Inter in their own half with a ferocious, aggressive press and coming close to an opener when Yann Sommer leapt to palm over a dangerous El Shaarawy shot inside the opening minute.

However, Inter managed to ride out the pressure and settle into the game, their league-best defence staying calm before one of its members put them in front, Acerbi nodding in at the back post after Romelu Lukaku’s headed clearance from a corner dropped kindly for him.

But Roma, a side that has so often gone into its shell in big Serie A matches, showed courage in the face of adversity and responded in kind, centre-back Mancini nodding home from a free-kick on a night where set pieces were proving crucial in the soaking conditions.

Chances came and went at both ends before Roma took a sensational lead on the brink of half-time, Lorenzo Pellegrini charging upfield on the counter and feeding El Shaarawy, whose shot struck both posts before dropping into the net.

AS Roma players celebrate after Stephan El Shaarawy scores (@OfficialASRoma)

AS Roma can’t keep Inter at bay

The Olimpico was at its raucous best as hopes of a stunning dismantling of the champions-elect started to sprout, but the Nerazzurri’s response after the break was a jaw-dropping reminder of how lethal they can be.

Thuram struck twice within the space of 10 minutes to put the visitors back in front, one goal coming from a cross on the right and the other from the left, but both ending with the Frenchman beating his marker to the front post and finishing calmly – although the second was soon reassigned as an Angelino own goal.

Inter strikers Lautaro Martinez and Marcus Thuram (@Inter)

Inter had their foot on the throat and didn’t intend to relinquish the pressure, and Benjamin Pavard was inches away from scoring a goal-of-the-season contender when he popped the ball up in the air and smashed a volley off the post from 25 yards.

On a night when Romelu Lukaku’s name was as ferociously jeered by the visiting Interisti – who still haven’t forgiven him for refusing to stay last summer before almost joining Juventus – as it was cheered by the home support, it always felt like he would play a big role.

In the end he had a relatively quiet night, but squandered the one big chance he had to turn the tide back in Roma’s favour when he was played one-on-one with Sommer and hesitated long enough for the Inter keeper to smother the ball off his toes.

Roma, improved by the spark of impressive January signing Tommaso Baldanzi off the bench, pushed to the end but couldn’t find a way through and were eventually caught out in stoppage time when the Nerazzurri created a three-on-one breakaway and Bastoni blasted home the finish.

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