MILAN – How can we possibly put the start to this season in words? It’s certainly not easy. We’re still catching our breath, and our hearts are still racing. Really racing. With the summer now at an end, the Nerazzurri brought in autumn with a bang. And while they were at times generous to the opposition, they fought until the bitter end, showing quality and ruthlessness in the process.
3-2 down with 87 minutes on the clock, Inter struck back with a vengeance between minutes 87 and 89. First Lukaku, then D’Ambrosio. A 4-3 win, a thrilling finale, our first three points of the season. Was it a struggle? Yes. Was it deserved? Yes it was. The Nerazzurri’s other goals came through Lautaro and an own goal by Ceccherini in a match that didn’t begin well for Conte’s side.
Indeed, it was a difficult start. Biraghi played a ball in, Bonaventura picked out Kouamé, and the latter gave Fiorentina an unexpected lead. The Viola’s initial game plan initially worked a treat, with Chiesa and Kouamé causing all sorts of problems for the Nerazzurri up front. Pulling the strings was Franck Ribery, who was in inspired form, with the Frenchman going on to set up Castrovilli and Chiesa to score Fiorentina’s second and third goals. Once he went off, the Nerazzurri comeback started.
This was Inter. With de Vrij suspended, Bastoni was in the middle of defence with Kolarov starting for his debut. The first half was tough going as the side looked to find a way through the masses of Fiorentina bodies. The first dangerous chances came through Young on the right, Handanovic did well to keep the deficit at one, before El Toro shone bright late on in the first half to deservedly make it 1-1 with a fantastic right-footed strike after great work by Barella to carry the ball on the counter-attack.
Ready, set and go. Lautaro contributed to Inter taking the lead, with his right-footed strike taking two deflections off Amrabat and then Ceccherini on its way in. It wasn’t easy going though for the Nerazzurri, with a deadly Ribery helping to turn things around for Fiorentina by setting up Castovilli and Chiesa. In the 63rd minute, Inter were behind once again and had to organise and look to respond. Lukaku and Dragowski were engaged in their own duel, while the goalkeeper also did well to deny Barella.
The foundations would be set for the Nerazzurri’s late siege on goal as Conte made a number of changes. Hakimi and Vidal came on for their debuts, along with Sensi and Sanchez. All would play crucial roles late on: Sensi was shrewd, Hakimi started to find space on the flank and Sanchez put the ball on a plate for his teammates, like in the season just gone. In the 87th minute, the Chilean switched the play out wide for Hakimi, who fired it across goal with a first-time ball, and Lukaku was finally able to beat the goalkeeper to make it 3-3. There were no celebrations as focus immediately turned to getting a winner. It came along straight away thanks to Sanchez’s high cross for D’Ambrosio, who popped up at the far post to head in and secure the victory. The three points are now on the board thanks to the comeback win. On a chilly early Autumn day, Inter kicked off this strange season by showing great determination to start with a bang.
INTER 4-3 FIORENTINA
INTER (3-4-1-2): 1 Handanovic; 33 D'Ambrosio, 95 Bastoni, 11 Kolarov; 15 Young (2 Hakimi 65'), 23 Barella (44 Nainggolan 74'), 77 Brozovic (22 Vidal 74'), 14 Perisic (7 Sanchez 78'); 24 Eriksen (12 Sensi 65'); 9 Lukaku, 10 Lautaro.
Substitutes: 97 Radu, 5 Gagliardini, 13 Ranocchia, 29 Dalbert, 31 Pirola, 37 Skriniar, 99 Pinamonti.
Coach: Antonio Conte.
FIORENTINA (3-5-2): 69 Dragowski; 4 Milenkovic, 17 Ceccherini, 22 Caceres; 25 Chiesa, 34 Amrabat, 5 Bonaventura (6 Borja Valero 61'), 10 Castrovilli, 3 Biraghi; 7 Ribery ( 63 Cutrone 83'), 11 Kouame (9 Vlahovic 61').
Substitutes: 1 Terracciano, 8 Duncan, 18 Saponara, 20 Pezzella, 21 Lirola, 23 Venuti, 28 Montiel, 32 Dalle Mura, 98 Igor.
Coach: Giuseppe Iachini.
Goalscorers: 3' Kouamé (F), 47' pt Lautaro (I), 52' aut. Ceccherini (F), 57' Castrovilli (F), 63' Chiesa (F), 87' Lukaku (I), 89' D'Ambrosio (I)
Bookings: Barella (I), Ceccherini (F)
Added time: 2' - 4'.
Assistants: Fiorito, Liberti.
Fourth official: Maresca.
VAR and Assistant VAR: Giacomelli, Preti.