Inter moved back to the top of Serie A with a hard-fought 2-1 win at home to Lazio on Sunday night.
In their opening match of 2022, delayed after a midweek meeting with Bologna never materialised, Inter rattled the ball around with a swagger that belied the 18-day wait for a return to the pitch.
Lautaro Martinez had the ball in the net in the 17th minute but was denied a 12th goal of the campaign by a whisker-wide offside VAR spotted. Penning Lazio into their own half for large swathes, Inter cranked up the pressure as Stefan de Vrij and Lautaro again went close.
Alessandro Bastoni proved the unlikely source of Inter’s opener. Steadying himself as he collected a half-cleared corner, Inter‘s centre back threaded a 25-yard effort through a clustered box and into the bottom corner half an hour in.
Yet, Inter had barely finished their second rendition of the celebrations before Ciro Immobile struck Lazio level completely against the run of play. Ruthlessly capitalising upon a collective blackout from De Vrij and Milan Skriniar, the visiting skipper sharply darted onto the drop ball Danilo Cataldi impishly knocked over the top.
Lazio were buoyed after netting Inter’s first concession in Serie A for the best part of ten hours of football with bright moments either side of half-time.
However, playing with an unhurried assurance, Inter stuck to their patient passing game. Ivan Perisic may have nudged the hosts back into the lead but Skriniar eventually nodded his side ahead in the 67 minute, steering Bastoni’s arced cross over the line via a satisfying clank off the underside of the crossbar.
The visitors huffed and puffed until the final whistle but couldn’t prevent Inter extended their winning run to eight league games on the spin.
Samir Handanovic (GK) – 5/10 – Did his best Superman impression to punch the ball away from Immobile but left swatting embarrassingly at thin air.
Milan Skriniar (CB) – 6/10 – Ever eager to sneak into midfield, Skriniar was buffeted away from the ball far too easily for a rare mistake that he rectified himself.
Stefan de Vrij (CB) – 6/10 – Spraying passes to either flank, De Vrij had a chance to open the scoring before playing a detrimental role as they were pegged back in one moment of misjudgement.
Alessandro Bastoni (CB) – 8/10 – A goal, an assist and Felipe Anderson firmly in his pocket at the end of an impressive evening.
Denzel Dumfries (RWB) – 7/10 – Communicated with his defensively-minded teammates superbly in transition while bounding forward repeatedly.
Nicolo Barella (CM) – 6/10 – Dropping into the backline and breaking forward alongside the side’s strikers, Barella was desperate to be involved all over the pitch.
Marcelo Brozovic (CM) – 7/10 – Playing with a breezy, almost lackadaisical strut, there were one or two nervy moments for Inter’s relaxed regista in an otherwise surreptitiously instrumental display.
Roberto Gagliardini (CM) – 5/10 – Skirting around the fringes of the contest without imposing himself on proceedings.
Ivan Perisic (LWB) – 7/10 – A constant outlet for the big switch of play, Perisic didn’t shirk his defensive duties.
Alexis Sanchez (ST) – 7/10 – Given license to roam against the Romans, Sanchez peppered the game with some delicate link play.
Lautaro Martinez (ST) – 5/10 – Inter’s top scorer will rue the narrow margins involved in his disallowed goal.
Edin Dzeko (ST) – 5/10
Joaquin Correa (ST) – 5/10
Matteo Darmian (RWB) – N/A
Arturo Vidal (CM) – N/A
Federico Dimarco (LWB) – N/A