Milan Skriniar, Mauro Icardi decisive as Inter scrape to 2-0 victory vs. SPAL
Inter won a sketchy game against SPAL, going ahead early thanks to a Mauro Icardi penalty. The Nerazzurri tired quickly after the hour mark, making it look like the Ferrara side could earn a typical, frustrating 1-1 draw. Instead, Ivan Perisic gave Manchester United more reason to regret their transfer strategy by lashing in a beauty of a half-volley three minutes from time.
VAR was a triumph, again. Joao Mario was initially adjudged to have been fouled outside the box only for referee Claudio Gavillucci to use the video assistant and correctly change the call, allowing Icardi to break the deadlock from the spot. Milan Skriniar is an absolute beast. Inter managed a number of rare feats: winning after the international break, not choking against a bread-and-butter opponent and, more importantly, keeping up the good work after beating strong opposition.
This had the makings of a maddening game. Inter never really got into any rhythm, courtesy of SPAL's clever passing game. The Nerazzurri are still very wasteful and look a little soft at defending set pieces.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Should Marcelo Brozovic have come on? Beyond that, Luciano Spalletti is still trying to impose his system. Teething problems are to be expected. Throwing on Matias Vecino was the right call, eventually.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Samir Handanovic, 6 -- Deflected a dangerous-looking header that may have been going out anyway. Was a spectator otherwise.
DF Danilo D'Ambrosio, 7 -- Plenty of overlapping energy on the right. Actually found Antonio Candreva with some decent balls hugging the touchline, but wasn't paid back despite his good positioning. This is a common theme, which has been underestimated in the past. A rock in defence, something we haven't seen as much as we would have wanted and made the assist for Perisic's screamer.
DF Milan Skriniar, 8 -- An absolute monster. Was there to make a crunching tackle when Miranda napped (though he could have been quicker), hit the crossbar with a rocket and even headed away what would have been a juicy chance, earning a kick in the abdomen from D'Ambrosio for his efforts. Who on earth expected him to be this good?
DF Joao Miranda, 6 -- Was caught out on two occasions when he tried the early press and left gaping holes behind him. Was otherwise solid. Strange that Skriniar has completely outshone him so far.
DF Dalbert, 6 -- Initially had a hard time containing Manuel Lazzari but it developed into a fascinating battle. Made mistakes going forward, but actually backed Perisic up, something we haven't seen in a while. A far from strong performance but remember, Yuto Nagatomo plays it safe because he hasn't got the skill to make a difference, or to justify his many weaknesses. Dalbert at least has upside and has the right to a trial-and-error period.
MF Roberto Gagliardini, 7 -- Doubting Gagliardini makes sense, at least on the surface as most of what he does is behind the scenes. Yet how many have noticed that he made seven (!) tackles, or 125 passes? Beyond his early forays, the Italy midfielder dictated the tempo. Faded in the second half, where Inter's midfield struggles to maintain a hold on opponents.
MF Borja Valero, 6 -- Some nice flourishes, but a quiet game by his standards, Taking him off made a lot of sense as the Nerazzurri needed muscle in the middle. Still a pleasure to see what a good passing midfield looks like. Found Perisic with a wonderful pass.
MF Joao Mario, 6 -- Actually proved that he can run against packed defences, which was the key development. Earned the go-ahead penalty and was very active, if not always tactically diligent. Also slowed down after the break. Progress.
MF Antonio Candreva, 7 -- His cross selection can be maddening, but kept thundering down his wing throughout the game. Looked good in that central position, something he is allowed to do by D'Ambrosio.
MF Ivan Perisic, 7 -- Icardi's penalty technically counts as the winner, but it was Perisic who actually guaranteed the three points. Made the highlight play, but we still want to see Icardi served better.
FW, Mauro Icardi, 6 -- Worked reasonably well with Joao Mario, but was otherwise quiet, and never seemed to get into good positions. Even started shanking one-two passes later on, too.
MF Marcelo Brozovic, 5 -- What on earth did he contribute? Inter needed to beef up the middle, not see this guy go walkabout.
MF Matias Vecino, 6 -- Put the game to sleep, as one Twitter user so cleverly put it. That release clause is suddenly looking like a bargain, as Inter seem to miss something whenever he is off the pitch. Could he be the gem, and not Borja Valero?
FW Eder, NR -- Not to sound cruel, but he used to come on earlier in similar situations last year, and not contribute much.
Edoardo Dalmonte covers Inter Milan for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @EdoDalmonte.