Rumoured Manchester United target Ivan Perisic impressed off the bench as Inter defeated Lyon 1-0 in the International Champions Cup on Monday.
Nerazzurri coach Luciano Spalletti kept several of his prized assets in reserve in the first half at Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre, where both teams struggled for fluency amid their continuing preparations for the 2017-18 season.
The introduction of Geoffrey Kondogbia, Stevan Jovetic, Gabriel Barbosa and Perisic, the latter heavily linked with a switch to join former Inter coach Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford, helped the Serie A side to assert themselves in the second half.
Gabriel was involved when Inter finally took a deserved lead in the 74th minute, the Brazilian playing in Joao Mario, who set up Jovetic to stroke the ball into the back of the net.
— OL English (@OL_English) July 24, 2017
The teams were presented with a threadbare pitch at the home of Chinese Super League club Jiangsu Suning and their efforts in the first half matched the quality of surface on offer.
It took until the 14th minute for either side to create a notable opportunity and even when Joao Mario slid Eder into a promising position inside the penalty area, the offside flag denied Inter a shot on goal.
Similarly, Lyon side struggled to trouble Samir Handanovic, Nabil Fekir having a shot blocked and Bertrand Traore, signed from Chelsea to replace the departed Alexandre Lacazette, firing over the bar.
In the 34th minute, the Nerazzurri goalkeeper had to advance sharply off his line to deny another new Lyon arrival in the form of Mariano Diaz following Sergi Darder’s clever ball in behind the Inter defence.
Borja Valero produced a well-timed challenge to dispossess Memphis Depay in the box three minutes later and Traore fired tamely at Handanovic from a tight angle with two minutes to go in the half.
At the other end, Miranda headed narrowly wide of the far post from a corner and Roberto Gagliardini drew saves from Anthony Lopes with long-range efforts, as did Eder, but neither side proved capable of breaking the deadlock before the break.
Both coaches made sweeping changes at half-time and early in the second period, with Inter the immediate beneficiaries.
Kondogbia sent an acrobatic scissor-kick wide from Perisic’s cross, while Jovetic dribbled into the area and past several Lyon defenders before shooting at replacement goalkeeper Mathieu Gorgelin.
The shot-stopper was called on again to snuff out the best chance of the match so far in the 57th minute, coming out to smother Gabriel’s shot after the Brazil forward was played in on goal by Jovetic.
Lyon suffered a blow when Ferland Mendy, a first-half replacement for the injured Fernando Marcal, had to be replaced on the hour mark due to a fitness problem of his own.
And Inter’s mounting pressure finally told with 16 minutes to go, as Jovetic was left with too much space inside the area and managed to steer a firm finish past Gorgelin following Gabriel and Joao Mario’s efforts down the right flank.
— F.C. Internazionale (@Inter_en) July 24, 2017
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