A late double from Mauro Icardi helped Stefano Vecchi sign off on his temporary spell in charge of Inter with a 3-0 victory over Serie A’s bottom side Crotone.
Inter Primavera coach Vecchi was handed the first-team reins for two matches following the dismissal of Frank de Boer last week, and, after overseeing a 2-1 Europa League defeat at Southampton on Thursday, at least departed on the back of a victory.
Inter announced prior to kick-off that a permanent replacement for De Boer would be confirmed in the next 48 hours, with former Lazio boss Stefano Pioli and ex-Villarreal coach Marcelino believed to be leading the race, and whoever takes charge may now find a more confident set of players than originally anticipated.
Goalkeeper Alex Cordaz impressed against his former club as Crotone defended stoically, but he was finally beaten in the 84th minute when he failed to stop Ivan Perisic’s late strike slipping beneath him.
Icardi supplied the assist for Perisic and then got on the scoresheet himself, drawing a foul from Gianmarco Ferrari inside the box and slamming the resultant penalty into the bottom-left corner.
Inter captain Icardi completed the scoring when he volleyed home his fifth goal in his last four outings in all competitions from substitute Eder’s cross as the Nerazzurri returned to winning ways.
After Banega forced an early save from Cordaz, Inter lost Andrea Ranocchia to a thigh injury in the 20th minute following a collision with Marcello Trotta and Vecchi sent Jeison Murillo on in his place.
Crotone’s counter-attacking focus failed to produce a serious threat in the first half, and they could have been behind had Danilo D’Ambrosio’s goal not been chalked off for a marginal offside decision.
A blistering 25-yard strike from Antonio Candreva was parried back into danger by Cordaz, but D’Ambrosio was deemed to have tucked the rebound home from an illegal position.
Cordaz produced a far better save in the 32nd minute when he got down to his left and turned Miranda’s powerful header behind for a corner, while Marcelo Brozovic curled wide from 20 yards before the break.
Inter started the second half positively and Murillo spurned a great opportunity when he appeared to send Banega’s free-kick over with the back of his neck.
Banega had an effort from the edge of the box deflected narrowly wide in the 50th minute and then saw his 25-yard free-kick clawed away by Cordaz.
Inter struggled to create chances to score until Icardi’s raking cross-field ball found Perisic in space on the right, and the Croatian raced into the area to fire home the pivotal opener.
Icardi made sure of the three points when he won and converted a penalty with two minutes of normal time remaining, relieving the pressure that had been building around San Siro.
There was further reason to cheer in the third minute of stoppage-time, when Icardi was found in space on the penalty spot to round off an ultimately comfortable victory that ensures Inter head into the international break in the top half of the table.
Key Opta stats:
– With his brace, Mauro Icardi has already taken his tally to 10 goals in this Serie A campaign. Last season his 10th strike did not arrive until February.
– Inter did not concede a single shot on target for the first time in the league this season.
– Icardi had only 18 touches today – fewer than any other player among those who started this game, excluding Ranocchia, who was subbed off after 20 minutes.
– However, Icardi was the player who had the most shots in this game (five, three on target).
– Inter had 74.3 per cent possession against Crotone, the highest possession rate in any game so far this Serie A campaign.
– Ivan Perisic has scored three goals in his last four Serie A appearances at San Siro
– Marcelo Brozovic created five scoring chances, more than any other player in this game.