Mauro Icardi struck twice, including an 88th-minute winner, as Inter secured a much-needed 2-1 victory over in-form Torino at San Siro to ease the pressure on under-fire boss Frank de Boer.
The success ended a run of three consecutive Serie A defeats for mid-table Inter and came as a welcome boost following speculation De Boer’s position was coming under scrutiny.
Home skipper Icardi knew little about his first goal as the ball ricocheted into the net off his knee after Torino goalkeeper Joe Hart attempted to block Ever Banega’s pass into the box.
A defensive mix-up then gifted Torino a second-half equaliser, with Andrea Belotti netting his sixth goal of the season, but just as Inter looked set to be denied a deserved victory, Icardi struck again in the final minutes.
And if his first goal was a touch fortunate, his second was magnificent, the 23-year-old turning just inside the box and rifling an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net.
The goals were Icardi’s first for over a month and marked a welcome return to form for the Argentinian, who has recently been embroiled in a bitter dispute with a section of the club’s support.
Torino, in contrast, had travelled to the San Siro in confident mood having gone six matches unbeaten.
But despite heading into the game as Serie A’s second-highest scorers behind Roma, Sinisa Mihajlovic’s men struggled to function as an attacking force and rarely tested Samir Handanovic in the home goal.
The defeat could have been far more emphatic with Eder, Marcelo Brozovic and Banega all wasting great opportunities for Inter.
Inter began brightly, with Joao Mario and Antonio Candreva going close, before the breakthrough that Inter’s pressure warranted finally arrived after 35 minutes, albeit in slightly fortuitous circumstances.
As Hart came sliding out to try and intercept a clever pass slipped into the box by Banega, he only succeeded in parrying the ball onto the knee of the onrushing Icardi and was then left helpless as it flew back over him and into the unguarded net.
Brozovic wasted a great chance in the 62nd minute, firing straight at Hart having been played in by Icardi and then heading the loose ball over the bar.
And Inter were made to for their profligacy within a minute as Belotti took advantage of Miranda and Jeison Murillo getting themselves in a tangle to burst clear on goal and rattle a ferocious shot past Handanovic.
The end-to-action duly continued as moments later Brozovic missed the simplest of chances.
Candreva and Icardi combined to create the opportunity, but just two yards out and with the goal gaping, the Croatian midfielder somehow allowed his header to be blocked on the line.
But the home side were not to be denied as their top scorer Icardi finally sealed the win with his stunning late strike.
Key Opta stats:
– Mauro Icardi found the net tonight after a six-game goal scoring drought for Inter in all competitions.
– Both Andrea Belotti’s two away goals in this Serie A have come at San Siro (one vs AC Milan, the other tonight vs Inter).
– Inter fired 22 shots tonight, their joint-best tally in a Serie A game this season.
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