Achraf Hakmi was impressive again while Lautaro Martinez stepped up as Inter Milan eked out a narrow 2-1 win over Hellas Verona to end 2020 on a high.
It was not until the latter stages of the first half that Inter Milan managed to conjure up a chance to find the back of the net. Indeed, Hellas Verona engineered a more clear-cut opportunity earlier in the half, only for Federico Dimarco to see his effort being saved by Samir Handanovic.
The Nerazzurri, though, were hot off the gates post the interval and broke the deadlock through Lautaro Martinez, who produced a fine finish to match Achraf Hakimi’s deadly cross. Verona, though, hit back just after the hour mark, when Ivan Ilic showed brilliant poacher’s instinct to pounce on Samir Handanovic’s weak parry.
However, Inter Milan scored the decisive goal soon after, as Milan Skriniar rose the highest to head in Marcelo Brozovic’s looping cross. The result meant that Inter Milan temporarily went to the top of the Serie A table before AC Milan’s win over Lazio meant the Nerazzurri will be ending 2020 a point behind their neighbours. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Antonio Conte’s men.
Samir Handanovic: 5/10
A game to forget for the Inter Milan captain, who made the howler that allowed Hellas Verona a way back into the game. Other than that ridiculous effort, though, Handanovic was solid enough in his goalkeeping duties and made a superb stop to deny Federico Dimarco in the first half. Reliable with the ball at his feet.
Milan Skriniar: 7/10
Stationed in the three-man central defensive unit again, Skriniar completed his primary duties without much of a fuss, bar one moment when Dimarco got the better of him. Saw a lot of the ball and lost possession just 9 times while also playing in a key pass. His most important contribution, though, was the imposing header that sealed all three points for AC Milan.
Stefan de Vrij: 7/10
The leader at the back, de Vrij was commanding in organising the backline against Hellas Verona while also being alert enough to intercept any stray balls. The Dutchman was also commanding in the air, winning 8 aerial duels other than a couple of ground duels as well. Top effort.
Alessandro Bastoni: 7/10
Conte seems to have nailed down his preferred back three and that surely features Bastoni, who was once again professional in his display. Won each of his aerial duels and contained Ebrima Colley smartly. The Italian international also won 4 ground duels while completing 3 tackles. The only real blemish was a horrible giveaway, but he was not punished for it.
Achraf Hakimi: 8/10
Earning another start following a promising display against Spezia last weekend, Hakimi showed a lot of purpose and urgency while bombing down the right flank. Set Lautaro Martinez up with a peach of a delivery and could have ended the game with another assist, with Romelu Lukaku missing it by a whisker. Created a couple of more chances in yet another top-class showing.
3+3 – Achraf Hakimi is the only player in his first Serie A season so far to have already 3+ goals and 3+ assists in the Italian top-flight this season. Multitasking.#VeronaInter pic.twitter.com/dRkuqdaW44
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) December 23, 2020
Nicolo Barella: 7/10
Inter Milan’s central playmaker pulled the strings smartly in the middle of the park, but the change in formation meant that he could not be as expressive as he usually is. The Italian international, though, was solid in his defensive duties, supporting Marcelo Brozovic well off the ball while winning 10 duels.
Marcelo Brozovic: 7/10
Inter Milan’s resident holding midfielder was composed while essaying his primary duties. At the same time, he also ensured smooth transitions and played in as many as 4 key passes, the most in the game. One of these saw him grab the assist for the match-winning goal, scored by Skriniar. Had some impressive defensive numbers in 3 interceptions, 3 tackles and 2 clearances.
Ashley Young: 6/10
Starting as the left wing-back once again, Young had a hit and miss game. While the Englishman did create a couple of chances, he was a little hesitant in charging forward. Was not too troubled in the defensive phase of the game, although he could have done better to stop a couple of crosses.
Ivan Perisic: 5/10
Reinstated in the starting lineup as part of the changed formation, Perisic was underwhelming in his display higher up the pitch. The Croat was not too involved in the proceedings and managed to complete just over half of his attempted passes. Not doing himself any favours with such showings.
Lautaro Martinez: 7/10
Reprising a slightly withdrawn role than he usually does, Martinez took some time to adjust to the new demands. However, once he found his feet, the Argentine quickly grew into the game. Enjoyed a fine return to form with his first goal in a month, ending a frustrating drought at long last with a brilliant finish from Hakimi’s cross.
Lautaro Martínez has registered three assists in his last six games for Inter.
The striker is back on the scoresheet this evening. 😅 pic.twitter.com/INPCREzLHT
— William Hill (@WilliamHill) December 23, 2020
Romelu Lukaku: 6.5/10
The player to watch in our preview, Lukaku revelled in the role of being the central striker by becoming the focal point of all the Inter Milan attacks. His hold-up play brought Martinez into the game and he recycled possession smartly too. However, his poor finishing on the evening pulls his rating back slightly.
Arturo Vidal: 6.5/10
On for the sub-par Perisic, Vidal did well to settle into the middle of the park, as Conte reverted to his favoured 3-5-2 formation to contain the threat of Hellas Verona after grabbing the lead.
Roberto Gagliardini: N/A
A late introduction, Gagliardini helped see the game out.