Stefan de Vrij and Nicolo Barella impress for Inter Milan but are unable to prevent a late implosion in defence against Lazio.

Simone Inzaghi’s return to the Stadio Olimpico proved to be a torrid affair as defending champions Inter Milan endured their first defeat of the 2021/22 Serie A season.

Nicolo Barella won his side an early penalty that Ivan Perisic duly converted. The Nerazzurri went into the break one goal up and seemingly on their way to yet another win.

Lazio, however, had other ideas and turned up the heat in the second half. Maurizio Sarri’s side finally started to make their possession count as Inter looked content to sit back and hit them on the counter.

Veteran striker Ciro Immobile stepped up and drew the home side level in the 64th minute from the spot. Both teams had played out a 1-1 draw in 29 of their 78 meetings so far and this looked to be following the same trend.

Lazio, though, burst into life in the final ten minutes of the game.  Felipe Andersen gave them the lead in the 81st minute before  Sergej Milinkovic-Savic ensured all three points in stoppage time.

With AC Milan winning and Napoli yet to play, the defeat is a setback to Inter’s hopes of retaining the title. The Nerazzurri have no time to grieve and will need to prepare for their midweek UEFA Champions League tie against Sheriff.

The Hard Tackle takes a look at how the Inter Milan players fared on the night.

Samir Handanovic: (5/10)

The veteran made an excellent save to keep his side in the lead but should have done better for Lazio’s second. Not a performance that inspires confidence among the Inter defence.

Milan Skriniar: (6/10)

Did his best on the night and was caught out of possession a couple of times. Not directly involved in any of Lazio’s strikes on the night.

Stefan de Vrij: (7/10)

The veteran Dutchman marshalled his men well and was able to get the better of the Lazio attack for most of the night. Could do little about the late implosion that saw his side hand their opponents the initiative.

Alessandro Bastoni: (5/10)

Started off well and looked solid and assured with and without the ball. He gave away the penalty in the second half and looked shaky since. His confidence looked bust after the incident and Lazio took full advantage of it.

Matteo Darmian: (6/10)

Coming in for Denzel Dumfries, the veteran Italian linked up well with international teammate Nicolo Barella. The pair worked well to ensure that the latter won the visitors a penalty in the first half.

Nicolo Barella:  (7/10 )

Continued his excellent start to the season and was once again the difference maker for his side. Helped win the penalty that broke the deadlock in the first half. Little he could have done to prevent the late implosion at the back.

ROME, ITALY - DECEMBER 22: Nicolo' Barella of Cagliari and Parco Parolo of SS Lazio in action during the Serie A match between SS Lazio and Cagliari at Stadio Olimpico on December 22, 2018 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)

Barella won the penalty for Inter early on. (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)

Marcelo Brozovic: (6/10)

Started off as the deepest of the Inter midfielders. The Croatian helped orchestrate play well and was at the heart of Inter’s formation. Little he could do to maintain control and chaos that reigned in the final ten minutes.

Roberto Gagliardini: (4/10)

The 27-year-old was starting his first league game of the season and it showed. Largely ineffectual on the pitch and did little of note. Replaced by Matias Vecino in the 67th minute.

Federico Dimarco: (5/10)  

Starting in the left-wing back spot, a lot was asked of Dimarco in Simone’s flexible formation. He failed to step up to the plate and did little to exploit the space his teammates created for him. A disappointing performance.

Ivan Perisic: (6/10)

The Croatian star was relieved of his wing-back duties for the night and was thrust into an attacking role up front instead. He showed nerves of steel to convert Inter’s penalty but was far from his best on the night. Will be dissapo9inted at not being able to make the most of the attacking freedom afforded to him.

Edin Dzeko: (4/10)

The veteran was the hero for Inter in the win against Sassuolo last time around. However, he was largely ineffectual against Lazio and struggled to test Pepe Reina in goal. Inter for their part continued to ping in crosses but the giant striker never quite got to the end of them.

Substitutes

Matias Vecino: (5/10)

Replaced the ineffective Gagliardini after the hour mark. Fared a little better and saw his side surrender the initiative to the opponents.

Denzel Dumfries: (5/10)

The Dutchman came on for Bastoni a little after he had conceded the penalty. Defensively not as solid as the Italian and also offered little going forward. Has to do much better if he is keen to win a starting spot at the San Siro. Also earned himself a caution for grabbing Anderson after his goal.

Joaquin Correa: (5/10)

Replaced Perisic in the 67th minute as Simone rang the changes. Provided little to no inspiration upfront and was largely laboured. Also picked up a yellow card for his troubles.

Lautaro Martinez: (5/10)

The Argentine sensation replaced the ineffective Dzeko in the 76th minute. His biggest contribution on the night was picking up a yellow card in the aftermath of Anderson’s strike for Lazio.

Hakan Calhanoglu: (NA)

Replaced Barella in the 86th minute but had little time to make an impact.

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