MILAN - It was a battle in the rain, and what a feeling of relief there was after 94 minutes of fighting hard. The players passionately embraced each other while San Siro sang the team’s praises. It was Lautaro Martinez who scored the decisive goals against a SPAL side who played with real spirit and stubbornness throughout the match and who pushed the Nerazzurri all the way. But there was no sense of complacency from any part of the Inter team as they fought their way through this challenge. Having taken a two goal lead in the first half, Valoti’s goal at the start of the second half set up a nervy second 45 for the Nerazzurri, who kept looking for the goal that would give them a firmer grip on the three points. But it ended 2-1 and Inter move onto 37 points (after twelve wins and one draw from 14 games), one point ahead of Juventus.
Enthusiasm and passion, the willingness to keep running and incessant heavy rain which failed to dampen any of the fiery support coming from the 61,000 spectators present at San Siro. These were the ingredients for this absorbing contest, for a match whose result neither side took for granted. The first 15 minutes were indicative of the entire 90: SPAL were pragmatic, narrow and compact, ready to fill in any gaps but lacking a range of attacking outlets. It was going to take vision and inventiveness to overcome the Spallini rearguard. That’s exactly what Inter provided when Brozovic won the ball back in midfield and played it forward to Lautaro Martinez, who fired a shot across Berisha and into the back of the net. The goal did not change the flow of the game: Inter continued to dominate and the linkup between players all over the pitch resulted with the Nerazzurri generating plenty of good chances. Meanwhile SPAL failed to trouble Handanovic at all. D’Ambrosio and Lukaku came close to getting Inter’s second, while Brozovic stung the palms of Berisha’s gloves with a shot from the edge of the area. The pressure finally told when Inter scored their second: it was a really well-worked goal which culminated in Candreva putting the perfect cross into the box for Lautaro to glance a header past Berisha. A brace for El Toro and a thoroughly deserved two goal lead for Inter.
The second half however began with a shock. SPAL broke through with their first real shot at goal, as Valoti drove into the box and drilled one low into the far corner with Handanovic left helpless. An unexpected goal that brought the away side back into the match. Despite this, it wasn’t SPAL who upped the pressure but Inter, and while they didn’t quite hit the heights of the first half, there were a series of great chances for the Nerazzurri. Lukaku’s shot was blocked, Brozovic’s drive was saved and Lautaro’s header was cleared off the line. However, the best chance was still to come as Martinez was set free one-on-one by Lukaku, but this time El Toro couldn’t make his mind up and Berisha came up with a strong save to keep SPAL in the game. The away side then found two late chances as Inter began to tire, but neither Floccari nor Tomovic could find the finish and steal a point.
The closing minutes were a countdown to the final whistle: Inter couldn’t find a goal to kill the game off and SPAL didn’t have the energy to put on one final siege. Godin, Biraghi and Borja Valero came on to see out the match, the extra energy ensuring that the game ended with a win for Inter. This was our twelfth league victory, with the Nerazzurri now looking to keep on pushing without any distractions from the standings. We’re back on the pitch next Friday as Roma visit San Siro for a 21:00 CET kick-off. Let’s start getting ready and make sure we’re focused, and let’s do it all together. Forever and always, #ForzaInter!
INTER 2-1 SPAL
INTER (3-5-2): 1 Handanovic; 33 D’Ambrosio, 6 De Vrij, 37 Skriniar; 87 Candreva (2 Godin 79'), 8 Vecino, 77 Brozovic, 5 Gagliardini (20 Borja Valero 79'), 19 Lazaro (34 Biraghi 75'); 10 Lautaro, 9 Lukaku.
Substitutes: 27 Padelli, 46 Berni, 13 Ranocchia, 16 Politano ,18 Asamoah, 21 Dimarco, 30 Esposito, 32 Agoumé, 95 Bastoni.
Coach: Antonio Conte.
SPAL (3-5-1-1): 99 Berisha; 40 Tomovic, 23 Vicari, 3 Igor (95 Jankovic 82'); 21 Strefezza (4 Cionek 42'), 8 Valoti, 6 Valdifiori (10 Floccari 70'), 11 Murgia, 13 Reca; 19 Kurtic; 37 Petagna.
Substitutes: 22 Thiam, 25 Letica, 26 Sala, 27 Felipe, 43 Paloschi, 66 Salomon, 98 Mastrilli.
Coach: Leonardo Semplici.
Goals: 16' and 41' Lautaro (I), 50' Valoti (S)
Bookings: Valdifiori (S), D'Ambrosio (I), Igor (S), Murgia (S)
Stoppage time: 2' - 4'
Assistant referees: Caliari, Vecchi.
Fourth Official: Volpi.
VAR and Assistant VAR: Banti, Vivenzi.