Ivan Perisic came off the bench to score the decisive goal for Inter in a 2-1 victory over Juventus that gave head coach Frank de Boer his first home win as Inter coach.
The Croatian midfielder powered a header into the net in the 78th minute to send the San Siro crowd into raptures and the result was fully deserved.
In fact, the scoreline flattered Juventus, who came up against an Inter side playing their best football since De Boer was installed as coach and they would have been very fortunate had Stephan Lichtsteiner’s 66th minute goal proved to be the winner.
Mauro Icardi scored his fourth goal in as many Serie A games to equalise shortly after and it was Icardi who provided the assist for Perisic to score the winner.
Inter, who struggled to play De Boer’s preferred brand of expansive football in their opening three games, were compact, cohesive and robust against a Juventus side not used to being pressed and harried as they were at San Siro.
The result leaves Juventus in second place in Serie A behind Napoli while Inter – who saw Ever Banega sent off late on – climb into the top half of the table.
Massimiliano Allegri rested Gonzalo Higuain, despite the Argentine netting a brace in his first Serie A start for the club against Sassuolo, and his side seemed to lack purpose without him leading the line.
Sami Khedira was put clean through on goal in the opening minute but Inter were saved by the offside flag, and the scare prompted Frank de Boer’s men to slow things down and compose themselves.
Inter have found goals hard to come by this season and, despite enjoying long spells of possession in the first half against Juventus, they struggled to trouble Gianluigi Buffon’s goal.
The best chance of the first half fell to Khedira, who was completely unmarked when Alex Sandro’s cross picked him out but his header went weakly into the hands of Samir Handanovic, who released Icardi at the other end.
Icardi jinked his way into the Juventus box and unleashed a swerving shot that clipped the post on its way wide, leaving the scoreline goalless at half-time.
Inter ramped up the pressure after the break and forced Juventus into a number of errors that produced chances for Gary Medel, Eder, Danilo D’Ambrosio and Icardi, but they were all wasted.
Juventus, having survived a long spell of Inter pressure, struck what looked like a killer blow after 66 minutes when Alex Sandro broke down the left and crossed for Lichtsteiner to score from close range.
But less than two minutes later Inter were level thanks to their inspirational captain Icardi, who leaped above a crowded penalty area to connect with Banega’s corner and head the ball past Buffon.
Inter continued to push forward and they were rewarded when Kwadwo Asamoah gave the ball away cheaply to Candreva, before Icardi delivered a sublime pass with the outside of his boot that found the head of Perisic and he found the corner of the net.
Higuain was sent on by Allegri in the closing stages and he flashed a glancing header wide with Handanovic rooted to the spot, but Inter were not to be denied a hard-fought victory.
The only downside for De Boer was Banega’s red card in the final minute for a second bookable offence, but his dismissal and ensuing suspension failed to take the edge off a fine victory for Inter and their ecstatic supporters.
Key Opta Stats:
– Inter’s previous home win against Juventus in the league dated back to April 2010.
– Mauro Icardi has scored seven goals in his eight Serie A clashes with Juventus (his favourite opponent in the top-flight).
– Icardi has had a hand in each of the five Inter’s goals in the current Serie A: four scored and one assisted.
– Stephan Lichtsteiner’s previous Serie A goal was in January 2015 (vs Chievo): 601 days ago.
– Prior to today, Juventus had won each of the 11 league matches Lichtsteiner scored in.
– The last time Juventus lost a league match after having been ahead was in April 2015, against Torino.
Premier League club summer fixtures
Cannavaro: De Boer not to blame for Inter woes
Former Inter defender Fabio Cannavaro said ex-coach Frank de Boer deserved more time to turn the club’s fortunes around, insisting the Dutchman should not be blamed for their woes.
De Boer was sacked by Inter on November 1, just 85 days into a three-year deal after losing seven of his opening 14 matches.
He was replaced by former Lazio boss Stefano Pioli, who will take charge of Sunday’s Milan derby at San Siro.
But Cannavaro – now coaching in China with Tianjin Quanjian – leapt to the defence of De Boer, placing Inter’s struggles on the board.
“Frank de Boer definitely showed in the Netherlands that he’s a good coach,” Cannavaro said via Sky.
“It’s not his fault. The fault lies with those who chose him and are still there working. It’s a bit of a culture in football, and it’s wrong.
“A coach needs time to get to know the players, the environment, the fans and the culture of the club. You can’t solve everything in one or two months.”
Inter are ninth in the standings, eight points adrift of city rivals AC Milan
Eder keen to move on from ´ugly´ defeat
Eder accepts Inter suffered an “ugly” Europa League home defeat to Hapoel Be’er Sheva that has knocked their confidence.
Frank de Boer’s men won in Serie A at the third time of asking against Pescara last weekend, but they were deserved 2-0 losers as the Israeli champions bossed Thursday’s game at San Siro.
Italy forward Eder spoke of his frustration on another testing evening for De Boer in Milan, adding that his team must now move on from this disappointment.
“In football there are no easy games anymore,” Eder told Sky Italia after the match.
“In the first half we made opportunities and unfortunately we could not take the lead. In the second half, after their goal, we also fell on a mental level and did not have a reaction. It was an ugly defeat.
“It is a shame because a victory here after the one in Pescara would have given us so much confidence, but we have to work.”
Inter’s next test is a vital league clash with Serie A champions Juventus on Sunday as they seek a first home win of the season.
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