CAGLIARI – With the team still buoyed by the Coppa Italia final triumph over Juventus on Wednesday, Inter headed to Cagliari knowing that only a win would suffice to keep the club’s title bid alive while leaving the Sardinians deep in the relegation zone ahead of the final day of the season.
Inzaghi’s charges turned in a professional performance at the Stadio Unipol Domus to stay hot on the heels of AC Milan in the league standings on 81 points. Alessandro Bastoni came back into the line-up as the left centre-back in the only change from the starting XI in the 4-2 Coppa Italia final victory in Rome.
Simone Inzaghi’s side thought they had taken the lead in the 11th minute only for Milan Skriniar’s effort to be chalked off due to a hand ball by the Slovakian defender. The Nerazzurri were well on top in the opening stages, racking up 75% possession in the first 15 minutes of the game. Matteo Darmian did open the scoring on 25 minutes with a brilliant header that the wing-back sent back where it came from to convert Ivan Perisic’s pinpoint cross from the left. It was the Italian’s second goal of the season and it brought back memories of his crucial late winner against the same opposition last season.
The only issue with the first-half performance was that there was only one goal between the two sides on the scoreboard. Inzaghi got his message across to his players at the interval, with Lautaro Martinez doubling the visitors’ lead early in the second half after a brilliant pass by Nicolo Barella.
Alessandro Agostini’s side did manage to halve the deficit a few minutes later, however, through a ferocious left-footed strike by Charalambos Lykogiannis. The visitors tried to take the sting out of the game with some controlled passing as the clock ticked down before the Argentine popped up again on 84 minutes to bag his 25th goal of the season. Substitute Roberto Gagliardini released Lautaro, who conjured up a sublime chip to make sure of the three points and clinch a 3-1 victory for the Nerazzurri.
It's all to play for heading into the final game of the season against Sampdoria at San Siro next weekend, with the Nerazzurri knowing a win is needed to keep their title hopes alive, with AC Milan travelling to Sassuolo knowing a draw will be enough for them to claim the Scudetto crown.
Cagliari 1-3 Inter (HT: 0-1)
Scorers: Darmian 25, Lautaro 51 and 84, Lykogiannis 54.
CAGLIARI (3-5-2): 28 Cragno; 23 Ceppitelli, 15 Altare (44 Carboni, 79), 22 Lykogiannis; 12 Bellanova, 6 Rog (18 Nandez, 56), 27 Grassi, 8 Marin (4 Baselli, 79), 29 Dalbert (20 Pereiro, 86); 10 Joao Pedro, 30 Pavoletti (9 Keita, 56).
Subs not used: 1 Aresti, 14 Deiola, 16 Strootman, 21 Luvumbo, 25 Zappa, 40 Walukiewicz, 66 Lovato.
Coach: Alessandro Agostini.
INTER (3-5-2): 1 Handanovic; 37 Skriniar, 6 De Vrij, 95 Bastoni (33 D'Ambrosio, 70); 36 Darmian (2 Dumfries, 58), 23 Barella (5 Gagliardini, 58), 77 Brozovic, 20 Calhanoglu, 14 Perisic; 9 Dzeko (19 Correa, 70), 10 Lautaro (7 Sanchez, 86).
Subs not used: 21 Cordaz, 97 Radu, 13 Ranocchia, 18 Gosens, 22 Vidal, 32 Dimarco, 88 Caicedo.
Coach: Simone Inzaghi.
Booked: Darmian, Calhanoglu.
Added time: 2+5.
Assistants: Ranghetti and Vivenzi.
Fourth official: Massimi.
VAR: Di Bello.
Assistant VAR: Zufferli.