BOLOGNA – The Nerazzurri were faced with a lunch-time clash against Bologna on Sunday, in their 25th Serie A game of the season.
Stefano Pioli was forced into a number of changes for the game, with Geoffrey Kondogbia and Mauro Icardi unavailable for selection, the second serving a suspension. On a more positive note, Ivan Perisic was back in contention and started on the left. Meanwhile Joao Mario lined-up in a central midfield role alongside Roberto Gagliardini.
The hosts kept hold of the ball in the early exchanges, with Inter looking to hit their opponents on the counter, harnessing the pace offered by Antonio Candreva and Perisic on the flanks. There was a lot of intensity on the pitch but the game felt a bit scrappy. Fans had to wait until the 12th minute for the first effort on goal.
Danilo D’Ambrosio teed up Perisic who played a teasing ball to the back post; Rodrigo Palacio was too eager and got in front of the ball, failing to get an effort on target. Bologna hit back moments later, as Adam Nagy won a loose ball and fed Blerim Dzemaili. However, Samir Handanovic was alert and got down low to collect the ball.
Another opportunity fell to Palacio, who came within inches of Candreva’s cross from the right, while Gagliardini saw an effort blocked by Nagy after being set up by D’Ambrosio. Ladislav Krejci and Dzemaili both had attempts on goal as the first half drew to a close, with Gagliardini testing Angelo Da Costa at the end of the period.
The second half began at a more frenetic pace, with Krejci setting up Simone Verdi after only a matter of seconds. However, his left-foot shot was poorly hit. Down the other end of the pitch, Eder struck a fierce free-kick from just over 25 yards but failed to test the opposition goalkeeper.
Perisic had a presentable opportunity on 54 minutes, hitting the ball on the volley with the outside of his right foot, but Da Costa made the save at his near post. Teed up by Candreva a few minutes later, Eder could only meet the cross with a weak attempt. Perisic then threatened with a wicked left-foot strike which grazed the top of the crossbar.
On 67 minutes came a yellow card for Miranda, a decision which means the Brazilian will have to sit out the game against Roma. Meanwhile, as Inter continued their quest for a winner, Pioli sent on Cristian Ansaldi, Gabriel Barbosa and Ever Banega, with Jeison Murillo, Candreva and Palacio leaving the field.
Shortly after Verdi’s teasing ball threatened the Inter rearguard, two of Pioli’s substitutes were involved in the decisive moment of the game. Just after 80 minutes, Banega played a wonderful pass towards D’Ambrosio, whose ball across goal was met by Barbosa at the back post. The Brazilian made no mistake with his left-foot finish, scoring his first competitive goal as an Inter player.
The youngster could well have doubled his tally just moments later, with Da Costa beaten, but Vasilis Torosidis got in the way to divert the ball out for a corner.
With five minutes of stoppage time on the clock, Bologna pushed forward in a search for a leveller. On 93 minutes, Torosidis found himself free to the left of the Inter goal but Handanovic rushed out to make a crucial save. It was a key contribution as the game finished 0-1, with Inter taking home all three points, keeping pressure on those above.
BOLOGNA 0-1 INTER
Scorers: Barbosa (81)
BOLOGNA: 1 Da Costa; 15 Mbaye (4 Krafth , 64), 2 Oikonomou, 35 Torosidis, 25 Masina; 16 Nagy (8 Taider, 69), 5 Pulgar (14 Di Francesco, 83), 31 Dzemaili; 9 Verdi, 21 Petkovic, 11 Krejci.
Subs not used: 83 Mirante, 97 Sarr, 6 Viviani, 13 Brignani, 17 Donsah, 18 Helander, 19 Sadiq, 22 Rizzo, 44 Silvestro.
Coach: Roberto Donadoni
INTER: 1 Handanovic; 24 Murillo (15 Ansaldi, 54), 17 Medel, 25 Miranda, 33 D'Ambrosio; 5 Gagliardini, 6 Joao Mario; 87 Candreva (96 Barbosa, 74), 23 Eder, 44 Perisic; 8 Palacio (19 Banega 74).
Subs not used: 30 Carrizo, 2 Andreolli, 11 Biabiany, 20 Sainsbury, 21 Santon, 55 Nagatomo, 99 Pinamonti.
Coach: Stefano Pioli
Yellow cards: Miranda 67, Barbosa 81, Torosidis 84, D'Ambrosio 88, Banega 89.
Added time: 1 + 5 minutes.
Assistants: Crispo, Valeriani.
Fourth official: Paganessi.
Additional assistants: Rocchi, Gavillucci.