Mauro Icardi spared Inter’s blushes with the equalising goal in a 1-1 draw against Palermo at San Siro on Sunday.
Andrea Rispoli might have earned Palermo their first Serie A victory at Inter’s famous stadium when he struck the opener just after half-time, and the visitors defended bravely for 25 minutes thereafter.
But Icardi, who missed a simple chance just before netting the leveller, scored a near-post header to earn Frank de Boer his first point as Inter coach.
Inter’s struggle to claim a share of the spoils against a side that finished 16th in Serie A in 2015-16 will not have impressed De Boer, but Palermo were good value for the draw and had chances to win the game despite coming under intense pressure at the back.
De Boer will hope the addition of Joao Mario – who joined from Sporting CP earlier in the day for a fee that could reach €45 million – will render his midfield more dominant as the Nerazzurri seek to improve on their slow start to the season.
Joao Mario was paraded before the fans ahead of kick-off, but the Portuguese midfielder joined too late to feature and the home side struggled in the game’s early stages.
Palermo should have been ahead inside seven minutes when Oscar Hiljemark’s free-kick found Edoardo Goldaniga unmarked in the Inter penalty area, but the defender’s shot went wide when it seemed the slightest of touches would have taken it past Samir Handanovic and into the net.
Inter’s best chance of the half fell to Gary Medel, who found himself unmarked and on the end of Icardi’s flick-on, but the Chilean midfielder’s shot was blocked bravely by Sinisa Andelkovic.
Ivan Perisic twisted and turned his way into the box to fire a shot that forced Palermo goalkeeper Josip Posavec to palm the ball out for a corner, which Ever Banega whipped onto the head of Miranda but the Brazilian’s effort went just wide of the post.
Banega then teed up Jeison Murillo for a similar chance, but the defender’s powerful header flew wide, and Medel missed a golden chance from close range after good work by Eder to leave the game goalless at the break.
Inter’s momentum was punctured after half-time, when Hiljemark’s cross into the box was poorly cleared by Davide Santon and the ball fell to Rispoli, whose shot deflected off Santon’s leg and squirmed into the net.
Perisic almost put Inter back on level terms within seconds of the goal, but he could only head Danilo D’Ambrosio’s cross straight into the arms of Posavec.
Banega and Eder led Inter’s charge for an equaliser, and the latter sent over a cross for Medel to loop a header just wide, and D’Ambrosio had claims for a penalty dismissed when he took a tumble in the box.
Posavec made an excellent diving save to palm away D’Ambrosio’s low drive moments later, and the San Siro crowd began to jeer when Icardi spurned the kind of chance he would normally bury, sending a free header over the crossbar with 20 minutes to go.
Icardi made amends two minutes later, meeting Antonio Candreva’s cross at the near post with a close-range header that gave Posavec no chance. And Candreva then missed a chance to grab the winner in the closing stages, dragging his shot wide and the points were shared.
Key Opta stats:
– Palermo are winless in their 29 away games against Inter in Serie A (D9 L20).
– Rispoli scored his first Serie A goal, in his 66th appearance. And it was from Palermo’s first shot on target.
– Icardi has scored four goals in three Serie A games played against Palermo at San Siro.
– Ever Banega had 130 touches, at least 41 more than any other player.
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