Lazio have completed the 2015-16 double over Roberto Mancini’s men, defeating Inter Milan 2-0 at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday night.
Goals from Miroslav Klose and Antonio Candreva sealed the victory for Simone Inzaghi’s side. and mathematically ending all hopes of Champions League qualification for the Milanese side next season.
It was the veteran German, Klose, who opened the scoring on eight minutes as the Biancocelesti sliced open Inter’s defence to present the 37-year-old with a chance to beat Samir Handanovic. He did so with aplomb, faking a shot then lobbing over the Slovenian goalkeeper as he went to ground.
In a game where neither goalkeeper had an awful lot to do, Inzaghi’s side received a penalty slightly against the run of play late in the match. Colombian centre-back Jeison Murillo clumsily fouled tricky winger Baldé Keita, receiving his second booking of the match in the process, to present the Romans with the chance to double their lead. Candreva expertly dispatched the spot-kick in the top corner to quash Inter’s hopes of a comeback.
The victory lifts the capital club to eighth in the standings and just three points behind AC Milan, while Inter will have to be content with qualification for the Europa League in 2016-17.
Kondogbia performance a rare positive in defeat
The big money signing from AS Monaco who arrived in the summer is now beginning to show his worth somewhat.
Following a colossal midfield performance in the 2-0 victory over Napoli at the San Siro, the Frenchman was at it again with an assured display in the middle of the park. This time, though, his side failed to come out on top.
Passes that spread the play came regularly as well as attack-halting tackles and interceptions. The 23-year-old even played Stevan Jovetic in for Inter’s best chance of the first-half, and possibly the game, with an inventive scooped ball over the Lazio defence.
Similar performances on an increasingly frequent basis are likely to win more fans over and perhaps judge the outlay spent on Kondogbia to be more wise than first assumed.
Candreva stakes claim for regular national team starting berth
The Italian’s first-half performance, in particular, was electric. He often made Inter fullback Yuto Nagatomo look clumsy and naive, with his slaloming runs and excellent close control proving too much for the Japanese to handle. In fact, the Biancocelesti’s main attacking threat for much of the opening 45 minutes came from the right-wing, where the former Juventus loanee was operating.
The 29-year-old may not have been as influential in the latter stages, though he was still one of the best performers on the park and had the resolve to emphatically power his spot kick past a goalkeeper renowned for saving them in Handanovic.
With the right-wing position for the Azzurri not set in stone coming up to the Euros in France, Candreva’s performance would have done him a lot of favours in getting into Antonio Conte’s starting lineup.
Inter in dire need of a genuine playmaker
All season Inter have been lacking some creativity and ingenuity in the middle of midfield. They had it previously in Mateo Kovacic, though stupidly decided upon selling the youngster to Real Madrid.
This time around, Marcelo Brozovic has been operating as the side’s only true playmaker. He has often been played out of position or in different roles though, and despite impressing this season, the burden placed upon the Croatian has proved too much. This was especially the case in this match.
Inzaghi’s men did a proficient job in quelling Inter’s midfield threat throughout the 90 minutes at the Stadio Olimpico. The ball was rarely fed into spaces for Mauro Icardi to run into, and any attempt at doing so was snuffed out by a man in light blue too easily.
Inter Milan’s only option at attacking seems to be from getting the ball into wide areas and playing in from there. With a genuine playmaker in the side, attacks through the middle would be more frequent and it would allow Icardi to be unleashed in a more incisive manner.
Lazio midfield excels in victory
Although in saying Inter’s midfield lacked creative thought at the Stadio Olimpico, the pressure and work ethic applied from the midfield trio of Ogenyi Onazi, Lucas Biglia and Senad Lulic cannot be ignored.
All throughout they harried and choked Mancini’s side in midfield as well as contributing to the attacking phases of the game. Inter had 15 shots on the day, with eight of these being blocked in outstanding last ditch attempts. By comparison, to Lazio’s nine shots, the Nerazzurri managed to block just one.
The midfield performance was undoubtedly a key feature in the home side’s victory against fourth place Inter, and Inzaghi will obviously be contented with the output offered in the middle of the park from his charges.