Edin Dzeko was the hero as the veteran came off the bench to turn the match for Inter Milan and keep them within reach of the Serie A summit.

In the end, it was neither easy nor pretty but defending champions Inter Milan came from behind to grab all three points against Sassuolo in Serie A on Saturday night.

Simone Inzaghi’s side put in an abject first half display and went in one goal down at the break. Familiar nemesis Domenico Berardi was once again their tormentor and the Italian international gave Sassuolo the lead from the spot after Milan Skriniar gave away a cheap penalty.

The Nerazzurri caught themselves a lucky break on the stroke of half-time when Samir Handanovic escaped what looked like a sending off for a collision with Gregoire Defrel. Thankfully, the referee blew the whistle for half-time and Inter caught themselves a break to recover and recoup.

Little changed in the second half and Handanovic was called upon to make a number of good saves. Inzaghi, however, had enough and made four changes at the hour mark that turned the tide in his side’s favour.

Veteran striker Edin Dzeko drew Inter level after turning in a cross from Ivan Perisic. The 35-year-old then went on to win a penalty after being brought down by Sassuolo shot-stopper Andrea Consigli. Lautaro Martinez made no mistake from the spot to complete the turnaround.

It was far from a vintage performance from the Italian champions but they held on to grab the three points on the night. The win sees Inter move within a point of league leaders Napoli. It also helps them retain their undefeated start to the season. Inzaghi’s men live to fight another day for now, and we, at The Hard Tackle, take a look at how the Nerazzurri players fared on the night.

Samir Handanovic: 7/10

A Jekyll and Hyde performance by the veteran. Did very well to deny Berardi a fine goal in the first half and was on point to make a number of key saves in the second. The came could have gotten out of Inter’s hands had it not been for him. Extremely lucky not to see red for his rash challenge on Defrel.

Milan Skriniar: 5/10

A forgettable night for the Slovak. who fell for Jeremie Boga’s deception and brought the winger down in the box. A stonewall penalty, it put his side on the back foot early on. Looked off his game all night.

Stefan de Vrij: 5/10

Another player with a night to forget. He made a couple of huge errors in the first half and spent most of the night running back to his goal, looking to cover up tracks. Helped Inter inch over the line but did little else of note.

Alessandro Bastoni: 6/10

A difficult night for the youngster who struggled against the guile and movement of both Berardi and the pace of Defrel. Thankfully Sassuolo chose to primarily focus on attacking from the left, offering the young Italian a breather. Made a few good passes going forward but they lead to nothing. The best player in Inter’s back three on the night.

Denzel Dumfries: 5/10

Sassuolo’s weakness on the flank is well known and the Dutchman kept his spot in the playing XI. Almost grabbed himself an assist but saw the ball cleared off the line. Needs work on his positioning and was caught out at times.

Nicolo Barella: 6/10

Played a part in giving away the penalty but redeemed himself as the game went on. The Italian international was everywhere and was a rallying point for his side on the night. Nearly scored too but saw his shot fizz just wide.

Marcelo Brozovic: 6/10

Given the runaround by Boga but held his own on the field. Another player who improved as the match went on. A critical player for the defending champions, him being on form makes life easier for Inzaghi’s side.

Hakan Calhanoglu: 4/10

Almost delivered through his set-piece delivery but was lost in the mire otherwise. Largely got caught up in the midfield battle to be able to influence matters upfield. A far cry from some of the performances he has put up this season.

Ivan Perisic: 7/10

Arguably Inter’s man on the night. The Croat put in a stellar performance and provided the cross that led to Inter’s equaliser. He continues to be consistent and could be set to play a big role in what the Nerazzurri achieve this season.

Joaquin Correa: 4/10

He had little impact in the first half and was largely anonymous. Given the lack of service afforded to him, there was little to be expected in the first place. Made way for Edin Dzeko at the hour mark.

Lautaro Martinez: 6/10

The Argentine tried by Sassuolo’s plan to rob him of space proved effective. He grew more into the game following Dzeko’s introduction and found more joy in the attack. Stepped up to score the all-important penalty with minimal doubt.

SUBSTITUTES

Edin Dzeko: 8/10

He may be getting older, but the Bosnian veteran came off the bench to turn the game around for his side. He brought Inter level within 30 seconds of coming on and won the penalty that settled the tie on the night. Linked up well with Martinez and has staked an early claim for a starting spot in Inter’s next game.

Arturo Vidal: 6/10

Came out and revitalized a flagging Inter midfield. His enthusiasm and energy increased the morale of his side and also saw Barella and Brozovic express themselves with more authority. An inspired substitution.

Matteo Darmian: 6/10

Did well to shackle Boga, making life easier for Skriniar. Solidified the right flank and helped Inter get back into the game.

Federico Dimarco: 6/10

Came off the bench once again to turn the tide of the game. Kept Sassuolo’s attacks at bay and helped turn the tide of the game.

Danilo D’Ambrosio: N/A

Came on late as Sassuolo threw everything they had Inter in search of a leveller. Made a few clearances and had precious little to do otherwise.

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