Final score

6 January 2016 18:00

0 - 1
46' Icardi
Referee: Domenico Celi / Linesmen: Posado, La Rocca / Fourth official: Musolino / Assistants: Tagliavento, Fabbri
Watch highlights
Minute Text commentary
47' The first half comes to an end: the teams go in with Inter in the lead thanks to Mauro Icardi's goal
46' GOOOOOOAAAAL FROM ICARDI!!! Perisic crosses and Icardi steals a march on everyone to poke it home. 1-0 to the Nerazzurri!
45' There will be two minutes of additional time
43' Ljajic's shot from the inside box is blocked, Kondogbia gathers the ball on the follow-up and lays it off for Perisic who shoots over
38' Inter with an error in defence, Saponara takes the shot on and Handanovic saves his team-mates' blushes once again
35' Yellow card for Brozovic after a heavy challenge on Mario Rui
35' Ljajic with an inviting cross, but there are no Nerazzurri players on the end of it
34' Another save by Handanovic after Maccarone gets a flick on it from close-range. The Slovenian goalkeeper is fouled in the process
32' Handanovic is hurt after colliding with Pucciarelli who bearing down on goal
29' Icardi gets ahead of everyone on the corner but can't keep his header on target
29' Perisic's fierce right-footed shot is deflected behind for a corner
26' Classy stuff from Icardi in midfield, the Nerazzurri skipper is felled by Paredes who is booked by Celi
24' Pucciarelli lays it off to Zielinski who misses the target with a low effort on his right
21' Saponara with an effort on the turn that goes wide following a deflected shot from Maccarone
18' Maccarone stands over the free-kick and hits a dangerous low effort. Saved by Handanovic
17' Yellow card for the Nerazzurri No. 24
16' Murillo fouls Maccarone on the edge of the box
13' Marcelo Brozovic works himself a shooting opportunity from the edge of the box after the corner, but he can't keep it below the bar
12' Good move from Inter: Brozovic to D'Ambrosio who fizzes it across the box for Icardi but the defender gets the block in for an Inter corner
10' Cross-shot from Ljajic causes panic in Empoli's defence, Barba turns it behind for a corner
9' D'Ambrosio crosses and Ljajic steadies himself for a header, but Skorupski intercepts and claims
7' Good work from the home side: Buchel picks up a loose ball on the edge of the area and shoots, but he can't find the target
4' Saponara battling his way down the right, but he's stopped by Murillo who launches a counter attack
1' And we're under way! Roberto Mancini's Nerazzurri take the kick-off
1' The teams are lining up at the Stadio Castellani, kick-off just a few moments away in Empoli v Inter in Week 18 of Serie A TIM 2015/16
Minute Text commentary
50' It's all over! First match of 2016 and three points for Inter, who begin the new year with a victory!
49' A Mario Rui set-piece evades everybody and goes behind for a goal-kick
47' Guarin attempts a wondergoal from midfield, but Skorupski gets back on his line and saves
45' There will be five minutes of injury time at the end of the game
45' Final change for Mancini: Ljajic is off for Juan Jesus
42' Empoli make a change as well: Piu taking Paredes's place
41' Second sub for the Nerazzurri: Icardi making way for Jovetic
39' Guarin picks the defender's pocket on the right and earns a precious corner
35' Mancini decides to shuffle his pack: Guarin coming on for Kondogbia
30' Free-kick from 30 metres taken by Paredes. Handanovic saves comfortably
26' Ljajic and Brozovic interchanging passes on the edge of the area but the move is killed by an awkward deflection
22' Croce is booked for a foul on D'Ambrosio
22' Daisy-cutter from Kondogbia that goes inches wide
20' Dangerous cross-shot from Zielinski, cutting across the whole of the Nerazzurri six-yard box without anyone getting on the end of it
19' Double change for Empoli, Livaja and Croce coming on for Maccarone and Buchel
16' Maccarone plays it into an onrushing Zielinski, Perisic is on hand to turn it behind for a corner
15' Kondogbia lays it off for Brozovic who takes one touch to control and tries to find the inside of Skorupski's left post. Narrowly wide
11' Ljajic from the top-left corner of the box, the ball goes behind for a corner
10' Double chance for Inter! First Mario Rui gets a last-ditch tackle on Ljajic then Brozovic clips it over from a decent position
7' Ingenuous pass from Pucciarelli for Saponara, whose shot is saved by Handanovic . Corner to Empoli
2' Brozovic from 25 metres, Skorupski saves low
2' Great start from the Nerazzurri! Ljajic releases Perisic up the middle, but he slices the shot
1' And we're back under way! No changes to either side
Average rating 6.2
4 shots on target 3
12 shots off target 11
9 fouls committed 10
8 corners 5
1 offsides 1
48% ball possession 52%
wins(9) draws(3) defeats(2)

EMPOLI – Inter got straight back to winning ways after the Christmas break with a gutsy and hard-fought victory away against Empoli.

There was very little to separate the two sides over ninety minutes, but the Nerazzurri put in a cohesive team performance in a game that was settled by Icardi's strike just before half-time.  

Roberto Mancini lined his players up in a 4-3-3 formation, with Mauro Icardi as the centre-forward flanked by Ivan Perisic and Adem Ljajic. Lorenzo Tonelli was the only absentee for the home side, replaced by Federico Barba, with Riccardo Saponara deployed in the hole behind a front-two of Manuel Pucciarelli and Enzo Maccarone. 

Empoli were quickest out of the blocks in the early minutes of the game, keeping possession in Inter's half of the pitch but without creating any clear-cut opportunities. 

The first big chance went the Nerazzurri's way when Mario Rui missed a tackle allowing Ljajic to fire a cross into the box, but a last-ditch interception from the home side put the ball out with Icardi lurking dangerously. Empoli responded immediately on the counter attack and Danilo D'Ambrosio showed defensive nous to shackle Saponara in a one-on-one.

Inter began growing into the game and Marcelo Brozovic released a marauding D'Ambrosio down the wing in the 13th minute. The Italian defender worked himself room to swing the cross in, but Andrea Costa was well placed to clear the danger.

Three minutes later, Samir Handanovic's sharp reflexes in goal were called into action twice in rapid succession. First he parried a free-kick from Maccarone and shortly afterwards he was quick off his line to clear at the Empoli skipper's feet.

The first half was being played at a high tempo with the teams matching each other blow for blow, but the contest was short on goalscoring chances. In the 23rd minute, however, Pucciarelli found himself room in the Inter box and laid it off for the onrushing Piotr Zielinski, who couldn't keep his right-footed shot on target.

Around the half-hour mark, two breaks in play with Saponara and Handanovic receiving treatment disrupted the rhythm of the first half. When the game resumed, the Tuscan outfit moved back into the ascendancy, Saponara and Marcel Buchel both creating dangerous openings in the space of a few seconds.

Inter gave a forewarning of what was to come in the 42nd minute when Geoffrey Kondogbia made the most of his considerable physique to keep possession in midfield and then feed Perisic on the edge of the box. Unfortunately, the Croatian couldn't find the target with a first-time strike.

Perisic then turned creator a few minutes later, beating Vincent Laurini with a step-over and firing in a low cross from the byline. Icardi showed all his striking instincts to beat Federico Barba at the near post and poke home beyond Lukasz Skorupski in injury time at the end of the first half.

Neither side made any changes at the break and the first opportunity of the second half fell to Inter. Kondogbia got the move going, with Icardi and Ljajic interchanging passes before the Serbian played in Perisic arriving at full pace. Ivan's touch let him down at the vital moment and Skorupski gathered safely.

There was a heart-in-mouth moment for the Nerazzurri in the 51st minute when Pucciarelli intercepted a pass from Ljajic and immediately released Saponara. The young Italian had two attempts to beat Handanovic, but Inter's No.1 did well to put it behind for a corner.

There were plenty of chances for both teams in an intriguing contest. In the 54th minute, Brozovic pounced on a loose ball in the area and, cutting back onto his right, tried to place it in the far corner but couldn't keep his effort below the bar. Empoli were pressing for an equaliser, while Inter looked dangerous on the counter. Perisic and Ljajic on the wings were both linking well with Icardi but unable to create anything concrete.

The hosts threatened in the 65th minute when Marko Livaja, recently subbed on, escaped down the right and played the ball to Zielinski on the edge of the area, but the Polish midfielder's shot ended up behind. Kondogbia tried to put the game to bed minutes later, but the Frenchman couldn't bend his low powerful shot inside the post.    

The best opening of the game for the home side came when Inter misplaced a ball in defence midway through the second half. Saponara found Pucciarelli lurking in a good position, but the presence of Jeison Murillo and Yuto Nagatomo was enough to put the Italian off and Handanovic was able to gather.

Mancini made his first change with ten minutes to go. Fredy Guarin came on for Kondogbia who had picked up a knock moments earlier.

Inter were defending with great concentration and tried to kill the game off with extended spells in possession. The Tuscans had one final chance in the fourth minute of injury time with a free-kick from 25 yards out. Mario Rui's delivery didn't find anyone on the end of it and the game finished here.

With this victory, Inter cling onto top spot and move onto 39 points for the season. Next up for Mancini's men is the visit of Sassuolo to the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on Sunday at 12:30 CET.  

EMPOLI 0-1 INTER (HT: 0-1)

Scorer: Icardi 45+1.

EMPOLI: 28 Skorupski; 2 Laurini, 15 Costa, 19 Barba, 21 Mario Rui; 17 Zielinski, 32 Paredes (22 Piu, 86), 77 Buchel (11 Croce, 63); 5 Saponara; 20 Pucciarelli, 7 Maccarone (39 Livaja, 63).
Subs not used: 1 Pugliesi, 23 Pelagotti, 3 Zambelli, 6 Bittante, 13 Maiello, 14 Diousse, 24 Cosic, 31 Camporese, 33 Krunic.
Coach: Marco Giampaolo.

INTER: 1 Handanovic; 33 D'Ambrosio, 25 Miranda, 24 Murillo, 55 Nagatomo; 77 Brozovic, 17 Medel, 7 Kondogbia (13 Guarin, 80), 44 Perisic, 9 Icardi (10 Jovetic, 86), 22 Ljajic (5 Jesus, 90).
Subs not used: 30 Carrizo, 8 Palacio, 11 Biabiany, 12 Telles, 14 Montoya, 21 Santon, 23 Ranocchia, 27 Gnoukouri, 97 Manaj.
Coach: Roberto Mancini.

Yellow cards: Murillo 17, Paredes 26, Brozovic 35, Croce 67.

Additional time: 2+5 minutes.

Referee: Domenico Celi.
Assistant refereees: Fabrizio Posado and Claudio La Rocca.
Fourth official: Espedito Marco Musolino.
Additional assistants: Paolo Tagliavento and Michael Fabbri.


starting lineups

Skorupski 28 1 Handanovic
Laurini 2 33 D'Ambrosio
Costa 15 25 Miranda
Barba 19 24 Murillo
Mario Rui 21 55 Nagatomo
Zielinski 17 77 Brozovic
Paredes 32 17 Medel
Buchel 77 7 Kondogbia
Saponara 5 44 Perisic
Maccarone 7 9 Icardi
Pucciarelli 20 22 Ljajic


Pugliesi 1 30 Carrizo
Pelagotti 23 5 Jesus
Zambelli 3 12 Telles
Bittante 6 14 Montoya
Cosic 24 21 Santon
Camporese 31 23 Ranocchia
Croce 11 13 Guarin
Maiello 13 27 Gnoukouri
Diousse 14 8 Palacio
Krunic 33 10 Jovetic
Piu 22 11 Biabiany
Livaja 39 97 Manaj