Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez made the difference as Inter Milan eked out a narrow 2-1 win over Sassuolo on Wednesday.
Sassuolo started the match strongly, taking the game to their hosts, albeit without much in way of end product. Inter Milan duly pounced on the Neroverdi’s inability to find an opening, as Lautaro Martinez opened up play brilliantly with a long pass before Ashley Young crossed the ball in to Romelu Lukaku, whose close range header found the back of the net.
The two sides continued to trade blows without creating any significant chances, but they should both have been awarded a penalty by the time Inter Milan scored for a second time. This time around, Lukaku and Martinez were involved again, with the latter grabbing a goal for himself on this occasion.
The Nerazzurri, though, were set for a nervy finish to the game when Hamed Traore scored a fabulous curler from inside the box late on. However, the hosts would hold on for a narrow win to extend their lead atop the Serie A table to 11 points. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Antonio Conte’s men.
Samir Handanovic: 6/10
Despite the danger that Sassuolo posed for large parts of the game, Handanovic had precious little to do in goal. The Inter Milan captain made just a couple of saves and he could not have done much to deny Hamed Traore for his brilliant goal.
Milan Skriniar: 7/10
In what was a busy outing for Skriniar, the Slovak made a couple of highly important blocks to keep the ball away from Samir Handanovic. The superb bit of defending to deny Jeremie Boga stood out. On the ball he was not as precise as Stefan de Vrij, but he did his primary job well.
Stefan de Vrij: 7/10
Back in the starting lineup, de Vrij did well to keep the Inter Milan backline organised, which was crucial as Sassuolo saw much more of the ball than the hosts. This also meant he was not forced into unnecessary challenges while the Dutchman also took his chances well when building up play from the back, retaining an excellent 97 percent passing rate.
Matteo Darmian: 7/10
A surprise selection ahead of Andrea Ranocchia in the back three, Darmian held his own for the most part on Wednesday, despite the Sassuolo onslaught. Won 3 of the 4 duels he contested while making 4 clearances and 3 interceptions, it was an all-action display for the Italian defender, who did his part well.
Achraf Hakimi: 6/10
A rare outing in which Hakimi hardly made an impact going forward, seeing as Sassuolo took the game to Inter Milan, which forced him back in his own half for large parts. This did expose some of the chinks in his armour, especially when he was put under intense pressure defensively. A rare blip, this, though.
Nicolo Barella: 6/10
Not the best of displays by Barella, even though he was constantly trying to make things happen when he roved into the final third. The Italian international, though, seemed to have left his creative boots at home, although he did enough to give Inter Milan the control in the decisive moments.
Christian Eriksen: 5/10
Installed in the deep-lying playmaker role in the absence of the suspended Marcelo Brozovic, Eriksen struggled to make any sort of impact, as the game simply passed him by. While there were hardly any misplaced passes, he was not incisive with the ball while also struggling to keep a lid on Filip Djuricic. Has to do better.
Roberto Gagliardini: 6/10
A game of hits and misses for Gagliardini, who was critical in ensuring Sassuolo never really got on top of Inter Milan despite their forays into the final third. Won 6 duels while completing 4 tackles and 2 clearances. However, going forward, he was a tad bit wasteful with the ball at his feet, losing possession a number of times in critical moments.
Ashley Young: 7/10
A solid effort by Young, who first grabbed the assist for the goal that Romelu Lukaku scored with an inch-perfect cross for the Belgian striker. The veteran Englishman subsequently put in the hard yards, winning 6 duels while completing 4 tackles to help keep Sassuolo at bay, all while looking for crossing opportunities higher up the pitch.
Romelu Lukaku: 8/10
Only four players have been directly involved in 30+ goals in Europe’s top five leagues this season:
🇵🇱 Robert Lewandowski (41)
🏴 Harry Kane (32)
🇦🇷 Lionel Messi (31)
🇧🇪 Romelu Lukaku (30) 🆕
Rom is in amazing form this season. 💪 pic.twitter.com/F0wvvIEAB1
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 7, 2021
There is simply no stopping Big Rom, who was once again on target with a deft header that handed Inter Milan the lead. Became too unselfish thereafter and chose not to pull the trigger when he should have, at times. However, this outlook, coupled with some superb hold-up play ensured he set Lautaro Martinez up for the second goal.
Lautaro Martinez: 8/10
A superb performance by Martinez, despite some sloppy moments here and there. The Argentine had a role to play in the build-up to Lukaku’s goal, as it was his first-time long pass that opened up play before Young found his strike partner. Then produced a fine finish midway through the second half to effectively seal all three points for Inter Milan. Did his job.
Stefano Sensi: 5/10
Introduced in place of the struggling Eriksen, Sensi continued pretty much from where the Dane had left off, failing to make any sort of impact, even though he completed most of his passes. Needs to do better when trying to progress the team forward.
Matias Vecino: 6/10
On for Gagliardini, Vecino put in the hard yards in the final 20 minutes or so to help out the Inter Milan defenders during the late Sassuolo onslaught.
Alexis Sanchez: N/A
On for Martinez, Sanchez had the chance to score late on, but it was not to be for him. A bright cameo nonetheless.