Inter have sent a clear message to Serie A rivals Napoli and Juventus as they continued their unbeaten run with a comfortable 3-1 win against tough hosts Cagliari.
The Milan side were determined to continue their title race after beginning the season with ten wins and three draws, and have further proved their determination as they overcame Cagliari thanks to Mauro Icardi and Marcelo Brozovic.
This home win temporarily places them at the lead of the Serie A table, although Napoli are yet to play their game.
No one other than Argentinian ace Mauro Icard could score the opener for the Nerazzurri. The 24-year-old was – as always – in the right place at the right time as Ivan Perisic, who received a magnificent cross by Antonio Candreva, provided the assist for his goal.
Newly entered Marcelo Brozovic only took two minutes to double the score for the guests, giving more stability to Inter.
Cagliari stoically responded to Inter’s heroics with main man Leonardo Pavoletti, who shot a stunning volley in the second half.
But the home side enjoyed their re-found confidence for barely ten minutes because Icardi once again secured the result with his 15th goal of the season.
Inter rightfully proved to have the second best defence of the league in the opening minutes of the first half, when, surprisingly enough, they were often threatened by a very proactive home side.
The hosts had their first chance to score after 15 minutes of play when Pavoletti picked up Faragò’s cross on the left flank and sent the ball towards the left corner of the goal. Super goalkeeper Handanovic, however, showed brilliant reflexes as he pulled the ball away inches before it surpassed the goal line.
It was Inter, however, who found the perfect occasion – their first one of the game – to break the deadlock towards the half-hour mark thanks to the one and only Nerazzurro captain Icardi.
The 24-year-old ace scored his 14th league goal as he received a cross by Perisic and turned it into the guests’ first goal.
Inter almost doubled the lead a few minutes later when Vecino sent a cross from the right-hand side and found Icardi again alone in the box. The Argentine, however, missed the ball even though Cagliari keeper Rafael irresponsibly left the goal undefended.
The home side returned to the break hungry for goals and again dictated the rhythms of the game in the opening minutes
Starlet Nicolò Barella almost made it all square as he fired a stunning shot on the run, which Santon deflected and sent to the corner.
As injured Vecino left the pitching while visibly limping, his substitute Brozovic fired a precise and powerful right-foot shot inside Cagliari’s goal, providing his side with a more stable lead.
The hosts showed an admirable sense of commitment as they narrowed the gap with Inter towards the half-hour mark with team leader Pavoletti. The Italian was served Faragò and beautifully volleyed the ball home.
Pavoletti deserves his goal, and what a goal it was! Faragò, who has really impressed with his crossing tonight, perfectly picked out the striker to fire a truly excellent first-time shot straight past Handanovič.
— Ben Cullimore (@bcullimoreftbl) November 25, 2017
However, Icardi eventually levelled Ciro Immobile as Serie A’s top goalscorer as he was the hero of Inter’s third goal in the closing minutes of the match.
The Argentine profited from a confusion situation in Cagliari’s defending area and curled the ball home after it bounced back from a previous chance.
The goal was initially ruled faulty because of a suspected clash between Perisic and Rafael, but the Video Assistant Referee declared it rightful.
Despite a troubled start, Inter have shown some very enjoyable and technically qualitative football in Sardinia and undoubtedly deserved the win. And it’s even easier to achieve it when you have a man like Mauro Icardi playing on your side.