VENICE – Simone Inzaghi had plenty of positives to take from his side's performance against Venezia as goals by Hakan Calhanoglu and a late Lautaro Martinez penalty ensured victory for the Nerazzurri on their return to Venice's Stadio Pier Luigi Penzo almost two decades on from their last visit.
“It's a great period for us and this was a big week,” the coach began after the 2-0 win on Saturday.
“It wasn't easy for us to play these three games in a week but once again we showed great character against an in-form opponent. We played some lovely football and the only downside was we couldn't get the second goal to put it to bed earlier. Leaving the game open against a dangerous, well-drilled side like Venezia is always risky. But it was our third game in a short space of time and the lads did a fantastic job.”
Inzaghi then took the opportunity to take stock of the season so far.
“Some people said this was supposed to be a transition year to rebuild. I came in and the club helped me in everything. These players are magnificent and I think we're getting better by the day. We have to keep going like this. We've achieved our first target, which was to reach the knockout stage of the Champions League, and now we can focus on Serie A, not forgetting the match in Madrid, when we'll have the chance to finish top of the group.
“I'm coaching a group of great players and great men. We got straight down to work in the summer and despite losing [Romelu] Lukaku, [Achraf] Hakimi and [Christian] Eriksen, we brought in players suited to the way we want to play. Now we're continuing to grow one step at a time.”
He went on to lavish praise on his wing-backs, Matteo Darmian and Ivan Perisic: "They're doing really well. It's a shame about the problem Matteo picked up. He felt a twinge in his thigh but hopefully it's nothing serious. He's a very important player for us.
“In any case, Dumfries and D'Ambrosio are options for us. Denzel is learning loads and Danilo has been a reliable performer for Inter for the best part of a decade.”
Calhanoglu meanwhile scored for the third Serie A game running before being substituted off in the second period. Inzaghi explained: “He's playing for a great team and playing with real confidence. He's doing brilliantly but at half time he had a massage on the back of his thigh and after three consecutive games I didn't want to risk him so I took him off ten minutes into the second half.”
Finally, the boss commented on Marcelo Brozovic's role in the team.
“He's unique player. He gives us balance and helps us build our play. Sooner or later I'll have to give him a rest but he's fine at the moment and this was a tricky fixture.
“We came out of the Shakhtar match in good shape and the lads did really well: they didn't try to force their way through the middle, potentially leaving us open to the counter. We managed a difficult game with maturity. It was a good Inter victory.”