MILAN – Like day and night. The good and the bad. There wasn’t a happy ending this afternoon at San Siro, with Inter suffering a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Bologna. It came as a surprise, not because of who the Nerazzurri were up against, but because of the way Antonio Conte’s side initially dominated. A big blow out of the blue, because Inter were one goal to the good, had a man advantage and had been awarded a penalty with an hour gone at San Siro. Suddenly, the game changed: Skorupski saved Lautaro’s penalty and Bologna, who really started to assert themselves after the break, gained confidence. Juwara scored his first Serie A goal to equalise, Bastoni saw red and Musa Barrow fired the away side ahead. Inter were now chasing the game and could found the net through Sanchez, who had two chances to at least salvage a draw. While the Sassuolo match saw two points slip from Inter’s grasp, Conte’s men dropped all three today. It’s a big blow that needs to be overcome immediately.
During the first half, Inter were full of desire, attacking deep in the opposition half and putting together well orchestrated moves. The Nerazzurri were without Barella, ruled out due to a muscle problem, but were boosted by the return of Brozovic. From the very beginning, Conte’s men drew Bologna in, overcoming their pressing game and switching play to create space on an open pitch. Bologna were struggling to deal with Inter’s game plan, with Lautaro and Lukaku marshalling the ball effectively up top and continuously working the Rossoblù defence.
Young, meanwhile, was acting as the chisel, trying to sculpt Nerazzurri chances down the left flank. And the Englishman was inevitably involved in the game’s opening goal as his cross was met by the head of Lautaro, whose header came off the post. On the rebound, however, Lukaku was there to tap the ball into the net to make it 1-1. Conte’s men continued to come forward, with the devastating Young being denied at the last by a brilliant intervention from Skorupski. Bologna had shown almost nothing in attack but could have equalised through Orsolini, who, one-on-one with Handanovic saw his left-footed effort saved by the Inter skipper. Was it a sign that the tide was turning? Not particularly, because Inter continued to control matters until the halfway stage.
And in the second half, although Musa Barrow rattled the post from distance, Conte’s side looked determined to hold on for the result. Bologna were down to ten men following Soriano's straight red. 16 minutes from the end of the match, things looked to be shaping up perfectly for the Nerazzurri, with Candreva winning a penalty after a foul from Dijks. But Lautaro was led astray by Skorupski’s mind games and failed to convert, and the Bologna keeper went on to parry Gagliardini’s effort on the rebound too. From that point on, Bologna’s found new belief in their cause while Inter applied pressure.
Suddenly, though, the Gambian flag was raised at San Siro. Musa Juwara, born in 2001, who faced great suffering earlier in his life, burst onto the scene. Juwara pounced on a loose ball after Gagliardini’s failure to commit before beating Handanovic with a thunderous left-footed strike. Bit by bit, the foundations Inter had laid earlier in the match were torn apart. The situation changed completely, and Inter’s fate was sealed by a goal from Juwara’s Gambian compatriot, Musa Barrow, who, after an excellent recovery of the ball high up the pitch from Palacio, beat Handanovic from close range to make it 1-2.
With ten minutes to play, Inter tried to get the match back under their control, but their efforts proved fruitless. Sanchez, who came on as a substitute in the second half, came close to equalising twice: on one occasion he failed to convert when through on goal, and on another, he was met with stubborn opposition from Skorupski. Thus, the game ended 1-2, and Inter’s lead was taken from right under their nose. Moreover, the Nerazzurri lost two players to suspension ahead of Thursday’s tie against Verona (Bastoni and D’Ambrosio, one sent off after a double yellow, and the other suspended after his fifth yellow card,), yet another disappointment in a match which seemed to be under control but slipped away from our grasp.
INTER 1-2 BOLOGNA
INTER (3-4-1-2): 1 Handanovic; 33 D'Ambrosio, 6 de Vrij, 95 Bastoni; 87 Candreva, 5 Gagliardini (8 Vecino 88'), 77 Brozovic (20 Borja Valero 88'), 15 Young (34 Biraghi 85'); 24 Eriksen (7 Sanchez 75'); 9 Lukaku, 10 Lautaro (30 Esposito 85').
Substitutes: 27 Padelli, 46 Berni, 2 Godin, 13 Ranocchia, 18 Asamoah, 31 Pirola, 32 Agoumé.
Coach: Antonio Conte.
BOLOGNA (4-3-3): 28 Skorupski; 14 Tomyasu (13 Bani 65'), 23 Danilo, 4 Denswil, 35 Dijks; 21 Soriano, 8 Dominguez (34 Baldursson 88'), 30 Schouten; 7 Orsolini (24 Palacio 65'), 99 Barrow (32 Svanberg 85'), 10 Sansone (26 Juwara 65').
Substitutes: 1 Da Costa, 97 Sarr, 6 Bonini, 11 Krejci, 25 Corbo, 29 Cangiano.
Coach: Sinisa Mihajlovic.
Goalscorers: 22' Lukaku (I), 75' Juwara (B), 80' Barrow (B)
Bookings: Danilo (B), Palacio (B), Juwara (B), D'Ambrosio (I)
Sent off: Soriano (B) 57' for dissent, Bastoni (I) 77' for a second bookable offence
Note: Skorupski (B) saved a Lautaro penalty in the 62nd minute
Added time: 2' - 6'.
Assistants: Fiorito, Di Mero.
Fourth official: Ghersini.
VAR and Assistant VAR: Di Paolo, Ranghetti.
Inter: Skriniar (1).
WALKING THE TIGHTROPE
Inter: de Vrij, D'Ambrosio, Gagliardini, Godín, Vecino.