VENICE - Inter ensured that the return to action after the international break reads a flawless three wins from three, thanks to a hard-fought victory at a rainy Stadio Penzo to build on the successes over Napoli in the league and Shakhtar in the Champions League which secured qualification for the last 16.
It was the club’s first trip to Venice in 20 years since a disappointing draw on a muddy pitch that was far less than the team deserved. There was a brief moment of fear this time around that history could strike twice as despite dominating from start to finish, the one-goal lead remained until deep into stoppage time and Venezia briefly threatened in the final ten minutes. Anything other than three points on a night when Inter registered 27 efforts on goal would’ve been a major disappointment.
On paper, Venezia were less demanding opponents than the previous two, but it was certainly not plain sailing for Inter with the rain driving down at the Stadio Penzo. The ground is truly unique, given it is located on Sant’Elena island surrounded by stunning Venice views.
Simone Inzaghi made a few changes from midweek, with Alessandro Bastoni moving into the middle of the back three and Federico Dimarco joining him in the rearguard. Joaquin Correa was given the nod up front alongside Edin Dzeko in place of Lautaro Martinez. Paolo Zanetti made one change and set the hosts up in a 4-3-3 system.
Inter put together a number of decent moves in the first half, but were thwarted by a combination of Sergio Romero in goal and lacklustre finishing. Dzeko, Milan Skriniar and Ivan Perisic all had good chances to open the scoring before a drive by Hakan Calhanoglu set the Nerazzurri on their way to three points. The Turkish midfielder picked up possession in the 34th minute all of 25 yards out and unleashed a powerful low drive into the corner for his fourth goal of the season and third in a row in Serie A.
Samir Handanovic was called into action as the hosts looked to make amends through a Mattia Aramu strike from long range that the goalkeeper had to claw over the bar.
In the second half, the Nerazzurri were focused on seeing out the game, while restricting Venezia almost exclusively to long-range efforts. Space opened up as the half wore on and the eventual knockout blow came deep into stoppage time when Lautaro added gloss to the scoreline from the penalty spot after Ridgeciano Haps was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box.
Next up for Inzaghi’s side is a home clash with Spezia on Wednesday, with the Nerazzurri currently just a solitary point off the pace at the top of the table behind leaders Napoli and AC Milan who are both in action on Sunday.
Venezia 0-2 Inter (HT: 0-1)
Scorers: Calhanoglu 34, Lautaro 90+6 (pen).
VENEZIA (4-3-3): 88 Romero; 7 Mazzocchi (17 Johnsen, 62), 31 Caldara, 32 Ceccaroni, 55 Haps; 44 Ampadu (33 Crnigoj, 85), 5 Vacca (8 Tessmann, 71), 27 Busio; 10 Aramu (14 Henry, 71), 77 Okereke (9 Forte, 85), 23 Kiyine.
Subs not used: 12 Lezzerini, 3 Molinaro, 11 Sigurdsson, 13 Modolo, 18 Heymans, 30 Svoboda, 42 Peretz.
Coach: Paolo Zanetti.
INTER (3-5-2): 1 Handanovic; 37 Skriniar, 95 Bastoni, 32 Dimarco; 36 Darmian (2 Dumfries, 71), 23 Barella (5 Gagliardini, 82), 77 Brozovic, 20 Calhanoglu (8 Vecino, 58), 14 Perisic (33 D'Ambrosio, 82); 9 Dzeko, 19 Correa (10 Lautaro, 58).
Subs not used: 21 Cordaz, 97 Radu, 12 Sensi, 13 Ranocchia, 48 Satriano.
Coach: Simone Inzaghi.
Booked: Aramu (V), Haps (V), Paolo Zanetti (V).
Added time: 0+6 minutes.
Assistants: Di Vuolo and Galetto.
Fourth official: Gariglio.
Assistant VAR: Carbone.