Inter 0-1 Fiorentina: Salah strikes to sink Nerazzurri

The forward, on loan from Chelsea, continued his hot streak by scoring the only goal in Fiorentina’s triumph over Roberto Mancini’s men

Fiorentina extended their unbeaten run in Serie A to eight matches with a drought-breaking 1-0 win against Inter at San Siro on Sunday.

Both teams came into the match in fine form and off the back of UEFA Europa League victories, but Inter’s recent resurgence was ended as substitute Mohamed Salah struck for the visitors early in the second half.

Roberto Mancini’s men, for whom Fredy Guarin hit the post in the first half, were unable to respond as – following three straight league wins – they lost ground in their pursuit of a European place.

Fiorentina, meanwhile, were able to celebrate a 12th game without defeat across all competitions and a first league win against Inter at San Siro since May 2000.

Nenad Tomovic was on the scoresheet when Fiorentina routed Inter 3-0 in the reverse fixture in October, and he returned in place of Micah Richards for this encounter.

The Serbian was encouraged to get forward from right-back in the early stages as the visitors put their stamp on the contest, forcing Inter back with plenty of possession in good areas.

Mancini’s men, on the other hand, were sloppy and wasteful with the ball.

One particularly disjointed attack led to Fiorentina’s best break in the 17th minute, but Manuel Pasqual’s low cross from the left evaded Khouma Babacar, before reaching the grateful Samir Handanovic.

This sparked Fredy Guarin into life at least, and a minute later the Colombian showed great skill to slip past Pasqual and cut back from the byline on the right, but Fiorentina scrambled clear.

Inter improved after that without ever taking control, although Guarin almost gave them the lead in the 35th minute.

Buoyed by his sensational midweek goal against Celtic, the midfielder fired in a right-foot drive from the edge of the box after shrugging off a couple of challenges. The strike had Neto beaten, only to bounce wide off the far post.

Fiorentina lost top scorer Babacar to injury at the end of the first half, but it was his replacement, Salah, who pounced to snatch the lead in the 55th minute.

The on-loan Chelsea man was first to react when Handanovic – playing his first match since returning from an ankle injury – spilled a Pascual cross into his path, smashing into the net from 10 yards.

Inter substitute Xherdan Shaqiri impressed after replacing Lukas Podolski and almost fashioned an equaliser in the 72nd minute.

The Switzerland international pulled the ball back for Mauro Icardi, but the striker blazed over from 12 yards at the end of a neat move.

A neck injury to Tomovic and a nasty knock for Stefan Savic forced Fiorentina to play the closing stages with nine men, having made all three changes.

Sandwiched between those two blows was a great chance for Rodrigo Palacio, but his low shot was saved by Neto, who then tipped a Guarin header over the bar in added time as Fiorentina clung on.

Pogba the best in Italy, but Pirlo is a football doctor – Brozovic

The Croatian reserved special praise for the Juventus duo, but admitted to following a different midfielder’s example on the pitch

Inter’s Marcelo Brozovic believes that Paul Pogba and Andrea Pirlo are the top players in Italy.

The 22-year-old joined the Nerazzurri from Dinamo Zagreb for €8 million in January and has since made four appearances for his new club.

While he once again admitted to styling his game upon that of the Manchester City midfielder, the Croatian offered his thoughts on who the best players in his position within Serie A are.

“For me best player in Italy is Pogba, although Pirlo is the doctor of football,” Brozovic told Jutarnji List. “My role model is Lampard, I always wanted to play like him.”

The Croatia international is still adjusting to his new surroundings, but stated that his grasp of the English language has helped him communicate with coach Roberto Mancini and the friendship of compatriot Mateo Kovacic has enabled him to settle quickly.

“I have learned English with former Dinamo player Josip Simunic’s help and now I use it to communicate with Mancini,” he added.

“Here we work a lot on tactics, with Mancini every inch of the pitch is covered. In Croatia it is a more loose, softer approach. Mancini allows me freedom to get forward as I have a good shot. Italian football is tough, very tactical.

“With Kovacic I have explored Milan and we also play PlayStation together. He is helping me a lot and I have begun to learn Italian. He also taught me to like sushi!”

With wearing the Nerazzurri shirt comes the pressure to beat city-rivals AC Milan, something which Brozovic has admitted is causing him trepidation ahead of their league meeting scheduled for April 18th.

“When I arrived, everyone told me on April 18 we play Milan and that it is the more important than everything else, including the Juventus game. I am not nervous usually but as I think of that match, I feel it a bit,” he confessed.

Mancini’s take on fellow European hopefuls Fiorentina on Sunday in a match that could see them close the gap on their fifth-placed opponents to just one point.

Mancini unsure whether Inter should sell Icardi

The coach says he would struggle to replace the striker’s goals if he were to leave but acknowledges selling the 22-year-old would free up funds

Roberto Mancini has admitted the sale of Mauro Icardi would enable him to sign “two or three players” but fears his Inter side would be severely handicapped if he was to sanction his exit.

Reports have suggested the impact of Financial Fair Play could force the club to sell one of the squad’s star men, with the Argentine striker and goalkeeper Samir Handanovic rumoured to be candidates for a summer departure.

Icardi has been linked with a move to Premier League side Chelsea as well as a number of Europe’s other biggest sides in recent weeks after scoring 19 goals in 33 appearances in all competitions this season.

The 22-year-old hasn’t been without his detractors either, though. His relationship with the ex-wife of his former team-mate Maxi Lopez attracted headlines for all the wrong reasons, while he also clashed with Inter fans after a recent defeat to Sassuolo.

Mancini has spoken at length of his admiration for Icardi and recently tipped him to become one of the world’s top strikers, but whether that is at Inter or elsewhere remains to be seen.

The coach said: “We will see what will occur in the transfer market. If you have a striker who scores 20 goals a year then you don’t want to lose him, but if you sell him then it can get you money to buy two or three players to improve the team overall.

“A winning team must have those marks but forwards are decisive players and it is not easy to find one who scores that regularly.

“In any case, it is still too early in the season to discuss all this.”

The former Manchester City boss will come across one of his former team-mates in the shape of Vincenzo Montella on Sunday as Inter host Fiorentina at San Siro.

The pair played alongside one another for Sampdoria in the 1990s and Mancini praised the qualities of his compatriot following rumours he could replace Filippo Inzaghi at AC Milan.

“He scored many goals thanks to me!” joked the 50-year-old.

“It was a real pleasure to play alongside him. He is a good lad and deserves all his current success. He makes Fiorentina play really good football.

“Montella has enough experience to be a coach at any club, even the biggest ones, but a young tactician has to think carefully about his future and choose the side that will allow him to work in the best circumstances.”

Mancini also confirmed Xherdan Shaqiri is fit to play after being rested for the 2-1 win over Cagliari on Monday.

Inter v Fiorentina Preview: Both sides buoyed by Europa League success

The hosts reached the last 16 of the continental competition by seeing off Celtic with a spectacular strike from Fredy Guarin, while Vincenzo Montella’s men stunned Tottenham

After both sides reached the last 16 of the Europa League on Thursday, Inter and Fiorentina meet in Serie A on Sunday.

Inter, after a 3-3 draw at Celtic in the first leg, sealed their place in the next round with a 1-0 home win courtesy of Fredy Guarin’s stunning late strike.

Fiorentina, meanwhile, overcame Tottenham 2-0 to seal a 3-1 aggregate success.

Inter will now face Wolfsburg in the round of 16, and Fiorentina come up against familiar foes in Roma.

For now, the two clubs turn their attention back to the league, where both have been in strong form in recent weeks.

Eighth-placed Inter have won three successive games in Serie A and their opponents, three places higher, are on a seven-match unbeaten run.

“We knew things would change. We need joy and enthusiasm, and of course results help a lot too,” match-winner Guarin told Inter’s official website after the victory over Celtic.

“We’ve got a tough match now and are already focusing on Fiorentina on Sunday. We need to take each match as it comes and try to do our best every time we play.”

“I think we’re on the right track to becoming an important team,” added Hernanes.

“We performed poorly in the first part of the season and now we need to give everything we have to make up for that.”

Defender Juan Jesus, meanwhile, enjoyed the atmosphere at San Siro on Thursday and hopes for a repeat when Vincenzo Montella’s men visit this weekend.

“It was great to see all the fans here, but we need them in the league too,” he said. “We need to rest up now and prepare for the next match. Let’s keep focused.”

The reverse fixture back in October ended in a resounding win for Fiorentina, who prevailed 3-0 thanks to Khouma Babacar, Juan Cuadrado – now departed for Chelsea – and Nenad Tomovic.

Then-Inter coach Walter Mazzarri only lasted another month in the job after that, before being swiftly replaced by former Fiorentina boss Roberto Mancini.

After an inconsistent start to his second reign at San Siro, it appears Mancini has Inter moving in the right direction again, and opposite number Montella is wary of the threat posed by Sunday’s hosts.

“Inter are in great form at the moment and they’re brimming with confidence,” he said.

Inter sign former Parma defender Felipe

The 30-year-old, who left the Ennio Tardini after a dispute over unpaid wages, as agreed a deal until the end of the season

Brazilian defender Felipe has signed a contract until the end of the season with Inter after quitting crisis-club Parma.

The 30-year-old left Parma after a dispute over unpaid wages – an issue that continues to plague the crisis-struck Tardini club.

Felipe joins an Inter side that have registered clean sheets in a third of their Serie A fixtures this term, but have also made a habit of conceding late goals in recent weeks.

Welcome #Felipe! Brazilian defender signs until June 2015 and will wear number 26 #FCIM

— F.C. Internazionale (@Inter_en) February 27, 2015

Inter face one of Felipe’s former clubs, Fiorentina, on Sunday in a fixture crucial to their hopes of securing a European spot in Serie A.

He will be unavailable to play in Inter’s Europa League campaign.

Parma, meanwhile, remain embroiled in financial trouble and had their last scheduled Serie A game with Udinese postponed.

Club general manager Sandro Melli compared the club this week to the Titanic after they were forced to auction off dressing-room equipment in order to help balance the books.

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