Inter were stunned by Sassuolo at San Siro – suffering just their second home defeat of the season – as Simone Inzaghi’s side missed the opportunity to reclaim top spot in Serie A.
Giacomo Raspadori and Gianluca Scamacca, both of whom have been strongly linked with moves to the San Siro, reminded Inter of their quality with a goal apiece in the first half and there was no way back for the hosts.
Still licking their wounds from the midweek defeat to Liverpool in the Champions League, Inter suffered an early blow when the visitors took a surprise lead in the eighth-minute. A low shot from Raspadori squirmed through the body of Samir Handanovic after Hakan Calhanoglu was robbed in midfield.
The Nerazzurri only had themselves to blame when they found themselves two goals down with less than half-an-hour on the clock. Rather than track the run of Scamacca, Ivan Perisic stood still appealing for offside and the Sassuolo forward duly punished him, heading in unmarked to leave Inter with a mountain to climb.
It could have got even worse for Inter before half-time as Domenico Berardi – who set up the visitors’ first – crashed a curling shot off the top of the crossbar.
Inzaghi made a double switch at the break, introducing Denzil Dumfries and Eden Dzeko, and the latter twice went close to halving the deficit but was denied on both occasions by the inspired Andrea Consigli.
Inter’s frustration grew as Lautaro Martinez missed the target from point-blank range, and, as the game became stretched, Raspadori almost killed off Inter’s challenge but saw his dink cleared off the line by Milan Skriniar. Berardi curled a shot agonisingly wide a moment later.
A miserable day for Inter was complete when Stefan de Vrij’s excellent header in the third minute of stoppage-time was ruled out following a VAR check after Federico Dimarco handled the ball in the build-up.
Defeat leaves Inter two points behind leaders AC Milan while Sassuolo climb up to 11th with this memorable win.
TALKING POINT – INTER’S WORRYING SLIDE CONTINUES
It’s now just one point from their last nine available as the reigning champions’ dream of back-to-back titles suffers another blow. Handed an opportunity to finish the weekend top after AC Milan dropped points at bottom club Salernitana, the Nerazzurri could slip to third if Napoli win at Cagliari on Monday night.
It’s not that Inter didn’t create enough opportunities to score; with 29 shots – eight on goal – they ought to have at least claimed a point. However, Lautaro Martinez’s struggles continued and strike partner Dzeko couldn’t find a way past the inspired Consigli.
Take nothing away from Sassuolo, though. They gave as good as they got with a brilliant counter-attacking game, more than playing their part in one of the best matches Serie A fans will hope to see this season.
MAN OF THE MATCH – DOMENICO BERARDI (SASSUOLO)
What a season the 27-year-old is having as he continues to catch the eye of Europe. Registered his 10th assist of the season with a fine pass to open the scoring and he was a whisker away from capping a fine performance with a beautiful shot that crashed of the woodwork.
Inter: Handanovic 5, Skriniar 7, De Vrij 6, Dimarco 5, Darmian 5, Gagliardini 5, Barella 6, Calhanoglu 5, Perisic 5, Martinez 4, Sanchez 5.. subs Dumfries 5, Vidal 6, D’Ambrosio 5, Dzeko 6.
Sassuolo: Consigli 8, Muldur 7, Ayhan 6, Chiriches 6, Kyriakopoulos 6, Frattesi 6, Maxime Lopez 6, Berardi 8*, Raspadori 8, Traore 7, Scamacca 7.. subs: Ruan 7, Henrique 5, Harroui N/A, Peluso N/A, Defrel 5.
8′ – GOAL! INTER 0-1 SASSUOLO (GIACOMO RASPADORI): Raspadori, the man who has been strongly linked with Inter, gives Sassuolo the lead! Calhanoglu is closed down by Berardi, Inter feel they should have a free-kick but play is allowed to continue. Raspadori takes control and his low shot squirms through the body of Handanovic!
26′ – GOAL! INTER 0-2 SASSUOLO (GIANLUCA SCAMACCA): Incredible scenes at San Siro! Nobody picks up the run of Scamacca, Perisic is left ball-watching with his hand raised appealing for offside, and the Sassuolo forward takes full advantage, heading into the corner of the net.
38′ – OFF THE WOODWORK!: It could be 3-0! Traore carries the ball an awful long way as Sassuolo counter. He switches it wide to Berardi and the chance seems to have gone, but he carves inside and curls a beauty towards goal. Handanovic is beaten and he can only watch as it crashes off the crossbar.
63′ – ANOTHER BIG SAVE! Perisic stands up a cross, Dzeko climbs highest but from point-blank range he can’t beat Consigli, who is having a great night in Sassuolo’s goal!
73′ – GREAT CHANCE FOR INTER! But Martinez can’t hit the target from point-blank range! His finishing has been poor… but that should have been an easy tap-in!
80′ – CLEARED OFF THE LINE! What a chance for Raspadori to kill off Inter’s challenge! He dinks it over Handanovic but Skriniar comes to the rescue with a clearance on the line!
90’+3 – GOAL DISALLOWED! Oh, hello! A brilliant header from de Vrij gives Inter late, late hope! Vidal’s cross is excellent and the defender connects with a superb header to match. Oh hold on, VAR is having a look for a possible handball. Did it hit the hand of Dimarco in the build-up? Inter’s miserable day is complete: the referee spots the handball on the pitchside monitor and chalks off the goal.