Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi made all the difference, as Inter Milan eked out a narrow 2-1 win over minnows Spezia at San Siro on Sunday.
The first half was an evenly-contested affair, as Spezia took the game to Inter Milan, who failed to pose any sort of threat in the final third. Post the interval, though, the Nerazzurri were much more potent going forward and took little time break the deadlock, with Achraf Hakimi finding the back of the net.
In what was a fine move, Romelu Lukaku held the ball up superbly to bring Lautaro Martinez into the game. The Argentine then released Hakimi, who embarked on a pacy run before scoring past Ivan Provedel. The hosts continued to grow into the game and scored the crucial second goal 20 minutes later through Romelu Lukaku.
The Belgian striker made no mistake in converting from the spot after M’Bala Nzola blocked a cross with his arm to concede the penalty. Spezia did pull a goal back late on through Roberto Piccoli but that was too little too late. The result meant Inter Milan continue to keep pace with AC Milan after the Rossoneri’s win on Sunday and The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Antonio Conte’s men.
Samir Handanovic: 6/10
An evening wherein Handanovic barely had any glove-work to do, with Spezia only managing one shot on target – the one which they scored from. With the ball at his feet, the Inter Milan captain was quite precise and barely made any errors.
Milan Skriniar: 6/10
Retaining his place in the back three, Skriniar was largely comfortable against Spezia, making 3 clearances while winning 2/2 ground duels. His ever-improving output on the ball was evident as well, with Skriniar misplacing just 5 passes. However, like the rest of the defence, he switched off when Spezia scored the late goal.
Stefan de Vrij: 6/10
For much of the game, de Vrij did well to marshal the backline smartly, barely giving Spezia an inch on Sunday. Made 3 clearances, won 3 tackles and completed an interception. However, like Skriniar, he was culpable of switching off late on for Roberto Piccoli’s strike.
Alessandro Bastoni: 6/10
Bastoni was quite passive in a game that demanded the players to be more proactive in order to get on top of the proceedings. However, the youngster’s decision-making left a lot to be desired at times even though he completed 92 per cent of his attempted passes. Won just 1 of the 4 duels he contested and none on the ground.
Achraf Hakimi: 8/10
Back into the starting lineup in place of Matteo Darmian, Hakimi made a slow start to the game and was barely a factor in the first half. However, the young wing-back started the second period strongly, producing a brilliant run and a peach of a finish to hand Inter Milan the lead. Did not see a lot of the ball otherwise, but played in a couple of dangerous crosses.
🇲🇦 | HAKIMI
◉ The first Inter defender to have scored at least four goals in his first 13 appearances during his debut season in @SerieA_EN
— Inter (@Inter_en) December 20, 2020
Nicolo Barella: 7/10
Mr. Consistent was at it again, constantly pulling the strings in the middle of the park and pushing Inter Milan forward. The Italian international provided the creative impetus from midfield and opened up play superbly with some long passes. Put a shift in off the ball as well, completing as many as 4 interceptions.
Marcelo Brozovic: 5/10
After shrugging off a minor injury, Brozovic kept his place in the Inter Milan midfield. However, the knock-on effects of his issue might have played their part in slowing the Croat down against Spezia. Brozovic was indeed overrun in midfield a couple of times and while he played in a couple of key passes, he was wasteful in possession as well. Could do with some rest.
Roberto Gagliardini: 4/10
Another player who continued to start in the middle of the park, Gagliardini was the worst of the lot as far as Inter Milan are concerned. The Italian international was a non-factor in the first half and hardly got involved going forward. Did not really make an impact on the defensive front either and was rightly hooked off for Stefano Sensi.
Ashley Young: 6/10
With Conte making little rotations, Young was the left wing-back again and enjoyed himself on a lot of occasions this time around. The veteran Englishman started the move for Hakimi’s goal while he also delivered a couple of dangerous crosses, only for them to not meet their man. Did some solid work in the defensive phase.
Romelu Lukaku: 8/10
Inter Milan’s star striker made the difference for the umpteenth time, converting from the spot to hand the Nerazzurri all three points. However, it was a game of two halves for Lukaku, who was not in the thick of the action in the first period but came to life post the interval. Was heavily involved in the build-up to Hakimi’s strike as well.
Romelu Lukaku scored his 35th goal this calendar year in Inter Milan 2-1 win over Spezia.
— vumaSPORT (@vumaSPORT) December 20, 2020
Lautaro Martinez: 6/10
A game of hits and misses for Martinez. The Argentine, the player to watch in our preview, played the assist for Hakimi’s goal but missed a couple of decent chances to score a goal himself too. His goal drought, therefore, continued against Spezia and Martinez is in desperate need of finding the back of the net.
Stefano Sensi: 6/10
On for Gagliardini, Sensi was an instant upgrade and pushed Inter Milan forward with purpose. Also worked hard off the ball, completing a couple of interceptions.
Arturo Vidal: 5/10
Thrown on in place of Brozovic, Vidal was well off his best and looked quite rusty in the final quarter of the game.
Matteo Darmian: N/A
A late introduction, Darmian helped see the game out.
Danilo D’Ambrosio: N/A
Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Ivan Perisic: N/A
Did not play enough to warrant a rating.