Thursday, January 20, 2022

Inter 1-0 Torino: Champions end 2021 clear at the top

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 22 Dec 2021

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Inter consolidated their position at the top of Serie A with a slightly scrappy 1-0 win over Torino in their final match of 2021.

This has been a year to remember for the Nerazzurri, ending an 11-year wait for the title under Antonio Conte, but Simone Inzaghi may yet ensure the coming 12 months are equally exciting.

While Inter will surely have to be better than they were against Torino to retain their crown, another Denzel Dumfries goal was enough to secure the three points.

Victory took Inter seven clear at the summit ahead of matches later on Wednesday for challengers Napoli and Milan, able to put their feet up over the festive period before returning to a potentially season-defining sequence of fixtures.

Torino had been encouraged by a laboured Inter start but allowed the champions to break on the half-hour mark and Nerazzurri shirts flooded forward.

Edin Dzeko’s square pass from the left evaded Marcelo Brozovic, only to run instead for Dumfries to aim into the bottom-left corner via the post.

Pressure from Ola Aina forced Lautaro Martinez to stab wide when he looked to have the beating of Vanja Milinkovic-Savic, and the inability to add to that lead before half-time ensured a slightly nervy final 45 minutes.

Torino’s best effort saw Sasa Lukic’s low free-kick parried away, though, as Inter did just enough to end the year on a high, even missing a chance for a second as Alexis Sanchez struck the post.

What does it mean? Stuttering Inter stay on track

Inter had won their previous four games against Torino and scored at least twice in each of them, aiming to extend that run to five matches for the first time in this fixture.

Inzaghi’s men were far from convincing, though, only marginally outshooting Torino 14 to 12. Even the narrow margin of victory was scarcely deserved.

Free-scoring champs falter…

Having become the first team since Milan in 1950 to pass 100 Serie A goals in a calendar year last time out, more was expected of Inter than they showed here.

Neither Dzeko nor Martinez were able to aim a single shot on target, with the latter’s run of netting in four straight games against Torino ended.

But Denzel delivers

Signed to replace Achraf Hakimi at the start of the season, Dumfries has really come into his own in December. After three Serie A starts up until the beginning of the month, the Netherlands international has since been named in the XI on a further five occasions.

And Dumfries has repaid Inzaghi’s faith by scoring his first three Serie A goals, including this crucial winner.

Key Opta Stats: Inter wrap up fine year with a win

– Inter have won 32 league games in 2021. In the history of the competition, only Juventus in 2016 (33) have had more wins in a single calendar year.
– They have also won 19 Serie A home matches in 2021, only two sides have won more in a single calendar year in the history of the competition: Juventus in 2016 (20) and Torino in 1948 (20).
– Inter have tasted victory in six straight games without conceding a goal for the first time in their Serie A history, with the Nerazzurri recording an aggregate score of 17-0 in the process.
– Inzaghi’s men have scored 104 Serie A goals in 2021 – only Milan in 1950 (120) and in 1949 (105) and Torino in 1948 (114) and in 1947 (111) have scored more in an Italian top-flight year.
– Inter have become just the second side in the last 60 seasons to have scored at least 49 goals after 19 Serie A matches, after Atalanta in the 2019-20 campaign.

What’s next?

Inter face some huge fixtures in the new year but start 2022 at Bologna on January 6. Torino go to Atalanta on the same day.

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