REGGIO EMILIA – The aim today was to get back to winning ways on a journey that is full of obstacles which, by going up a gear, can be overcome. Inter bounced back today with three goals and a convincing performance on a difficult pitch. The Nerazzurri made a ferocious start, scoring through Sanchez inside three minutes and doubling their lead through a Chiriches own goal not long after. Then, Gagliardini sealed the victory with a fine third. It was a professional and complete performance from Conte’s men, who stood up to a Sassuolo side that tried to get back into the match after a slow opening 20 minutes. The home team were unable to do so, however, because the Nerazzurri were attentive and solid for almost the entirety of the game.
Inter needed to get into gear quickly, with the aim being to forge the path to victory early on. And it took just three minutes for Conte’s men to break the deadlock. It was mix of desire, stubbornness and ruthlessness. Lautaro stopped Chiriches building from the back, ran into space, knocked the ball past Consigli, held off the attentions of the Neroverdi backline and finally managed to set up Sanchez to open the scoring. A strong start, as was the case last season at the Mapei Stadium (when Lautaro found the net after 64 seconds).
Lautaro looked a man inspired and came close with a sumptuous lob on the ten-minute mark, with the ball ending narrowly off target. This was just a sign that Inter weren’t settling for just a single goal in the opening stages. With 14 minutes on the clock, it was 2-0: Vidal fired the ball into the mix, before it then bounced off Chiriches and into the net to really put De Zerbi’s side on the backfoot.
Sassuolo, however, never give up and always try to play their game, irrespective of the scoreline. They were keeping possession (67% by the end of the first half), looking to put moves together, playing into space and sending men forward. Inter remained attentive, knowing that you can’t afford to give the Neroverdi the opportunity to get back into matches.
However, Conte's men almost conceded after 21 minutes: Djuricic pushed forward for Sassuolo, striking the outside of the post with a right-footed effort. An outrushing Handanovic then denied the same player immediately afterwards. The remainder of the first half was played out in fine balance with a determined Sassuolo team trying to create opportunities and an Inter eleven that were organised and precise.
After the restart, it was a similar story, although Sassuolo increasingly lacked incisiveness, often falling prey to a Nerazzurri backline that was able to limit the effectiveness of Raspadori and the lively Boga. Lautaro Martinez and Sanchez produced excellent performances, linking up with the midfield and allowing the Nerazzurri machine to run smoothly. This, along with brilliant build up play with Darmian, led to the first Inter chance in the 54th minute. However, Lautaro was unable to the finishing touch.
Nevertheless, six minutes later a chance came again, with Darmian bursting down the right and providing a ball for Gagliardini, who tucked the ball into the bottom corner with an excellent finish. From then on, Inter threw their bodies on the line, never giving an inch and closing down shots that occasionally seemed destined for the net, like Darmian’s last-ditch challenge on Boga.
The 3-0 win is an excellent result than enables the Nerazzurri to take home three crucial points that were needed after the defeat in the Champions League. The team’s response to that disappointment has been excellent. Conte’s boys move up to 18 points in Serie A, level with Sassuolo. Now, they must turn their attentions to their vital Champions League clash on Tuesday in Germany against Borussia Monchengladbach.
SASSUOLO 0-3 INTER
SASSUOLO (4-2-3-1): 47 Consigli; 22 Toljan (17 Muldur 59'), 21 Chiriches (2 Marlon 42') , 31 Ferrari, 6 Rogerio; 8 M. Lopez (23 Traore 76'), 73 Locatelli; 25 Berardi, 10 Djuricic (14 Obiang 59'), 7 Boga; 18 Raspadori (91 Schiappacasse 76').
Substitutes: 56 Pegolo, 4 Magnanelli, 5 Ayhan, 13 Peluso, 30 Oddei, 68 Bourabia, 77 Kiriakopulos.
Coach: Roberto De Zerbi.
INTER (3-5-2): 1 Handanovic; 37 Skriniar, 6 de Vrij, 95 Bastoni; 36 Darmian (2 Hakimi 92'), 22 Vidal, 23 Barella (12 Sensi 85'), 5 Gagliardini, 14 Perisic (24 Eriksen 85'); 7 Sanchez (15 Young 80'), 10 Lautaro (9 Lukaku 80').
Substitutes: 35 Stankovic, 97 Radu, 13 Ranocchia, 33 D'Ambrosio.
Coach: Antonio Conte.
Goalscorers: 4' Sanchez (I), 14' Chiriches OG (S), 60' Gagliardini (I)
Bookings: Locatelli (S), Rogerio (S), Lopez (S), Perisic (I)
Added time: 2' -
Assistants: Fiorito, Baccini.
Fourth Official: Ghersini.
VAR Assistant: Valeriani.