Monday, November 30, 2020

Conte demands comeback kings Inter find their ferocity

SoccerNews in Serie A 22 Nov 2020

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Antonio Conte did not spare his Inter side from criticism despite a fine 4-2 comeback win over Torino and accused them of going backwards from last season.

Marco Giampaolo’s struggling side deservedly led at the break at San Siro, thanks to Simone Zaza’s splendid strike and former Inter wing-back Cristian Ansaldi doubling Torino’s advantage with a 62nd-minute penalty.

From that point, Romelu Lukaku inspired a stunning turnaround, creating a goal for Alexis Sanchez before tapping in his team-mate’s low cross in the 67th-minute.

The Belgium striker dispatched a penalty of his own six minutes from time and laid on for substitute Lautaro Martinez to complete the scoring.

Nevertheless, it was an abject first hour that commanded most of Conte’s attention at the post-match news conference.

“Our approach wasn’t the best, I didn’t like what I saw,” he said. “We should have been more ferocious and determined. Torino played in this fashion and we lost many duels.

“I understand there are difficulties relating to players returning from international duty, it isn’t easy to get back into the swing of things and understand the importance of a match.

“We were lacking in this regard: during the first part of the game, we were lacking a competitive edge and ruthlessness. In the second half, however, we showed that we have something big in our locker, including in terms of our character: being 2-0 down could have destroyed us.

“It wasn’t easy, and I’d like to compliment the guys on the reaction they displayed. We managed to score four goals and fight back, but we need to show a ruthless side at the right time.

“We also need to work hard to raise our concentration levels. Compared to how we finished last season, we’ve lost a lot of this, so we need to find that ferocity again.”

Inter are a point behind champions Juventus and three shy of surprise leaders Sassuolo in a congested Serie A.

It is unlikely they would be so well placed without the exploits of Lukaku who now has 30 goals in 43 top-flight games for Inter. Only Brazil great Ronaldo (41 games) and Christian Vieri (43) have reached the landmark as swiftly, putting him in esteemed company.

After the game Lukaku told reporters the Nerazzurri are still not a “top team” – an assessment with which Conte concurred.

“I’m happy that Romelu has said those things, because we shouldn’t pay attention to outside voices but follow our own path,” he said.

“We need to have a desire to win that can be felt by our opponents even in the changing rooms. We’ve got a solid and intelligent group,

“I fully agree with what Romelu said. We’ve still got a long way to go to become a top team because in twelve games you shouldn’t be forced to come from behind so often.”

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