Mauro Icardi bounced back from his penalty nightmare in the derby with AC Milan, scoring the only goal of the game in Inter’s 1-0 Serie A victory over Chievo at San Siro.
Icardi had been left on the bench for Inter’s clash with their city rivals at the weekend before being introduced in the second half and missing a spot-kick that would have levelled the scores at 1-1.
Milan went on to win 3-0 and Icadi’s omission from the starting XI led to rumours either he or coach Roberto Mancini would leave the club at the end of the season with their relationship having broken down.
Mancini was banned for the visit of Chievo on Wednesday for making an insulting gesture towards the fans and remonstrating with officials during the derby, but was provided with some welcome relief thanks to Icardi’s strike.
The heroics of Andrea Seculin in the Chievo goal ensured the visitors went into half-time level despite Inter dominating matters.
But Icardi netted what ultimately proved to be the decisive strike three minutes after the restart to end Inter’s four-match winless run in the league.
The pattern for the game was set early on, as Chievo struggled to get out of their own half. Geoffrey Kondogbia ballooned a shot over the top of the crossbar from 25 yards before Icardi crossed for Eder, whose close-range effort was well saved by Seculin.
Seculin was alert again in the 13th minute to fling himself to his left and turn away Icardi’s powerful strike at the end of Marcelo Brozovic’s pass, while Kondogbia should have done better than shoot straight at the Chievo goalkeeper after being played in by Rodrigo Palacio eight minutes later, as Inter set up camp on the edge of the visitors’ penalty area.
Brozovic was next to test Seculin, with 12 minutes remaining before half-time, but he was equal to the Croat’s 20-yard strike and, from the subsequent corner, Icardi nodded narrowly wide.
Icardi tried his luck from 50 yards out as the clock ticked down to the interval and Eder prodded over at the back post from Brozovic’s chipped throughball, but, despite their total control of the game, Inter failed to find a breakthrough before half-time.
It took less than three minutes of the second period for the hosts to edge in front, however. A left-wing corner was not properly cleared by Chievo and, when Miranda’s initial shot was blocked, Icardi was on hand to smash home the loose ball from close range.
The Argentinian came close to doubling his tally seven minutes later but the striker’s header, from Yuto Nagatomo’s cross, bounced back to safety off the Chievo crossbar. And Icardi was again denied by Seculin after being sent clear by Nagatomo with 25 minutes remaining.
Brozovic sent a late free-kick narrowly wide and Miranda’s header was saved by Seculin, but, for all their huff and puff, Inter were unable to add to their single-goal haul.
Key Opta stats:
-Inter have kept a clean sheet and have won after four Serie A games without a victory (D2, L2).
-Of Inter’s 13 wins in the league this season, 12 came with no goals conceded (2-1 vs Carpi) – they have won 1-0 10 times.
-Chievo have faced eight shots on target, only against Juventus in their last game (10) have they faced more this season.
-Inter had four shots on target in the first 45 minutes of play, a joint-record for the Nerazzurri this season.
-Inter are yet to score a goal in the first 15 minutes of play in the league this season.
-Mauro Icardi has scored his 50th Serie A goal in his 109th appearance.
-Icardi has hit the woodwork three times, a joint-record in Serie A this season – only Palermo (10) have more struck the frame of the goal more times than Inter (nine).
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