Stramaccioni: "You saw the real Inter"

MILAN – “In the first half we weren’t focused or alert enough when defending set pieces, we were caught out a couple of times, but the lads showed greater concentration after the break and I don’t remember us being in danger.” This was Andrea Stramaccioni‘s initial analysis following his side’s 3-1 win over Chievo.

“I think tonight showed that we’re not dead and buried, we let out the frustration that has been building recently, and we channelled that on the pitch. You saw Inter tonight. We’re a squad, we’re a team, we played like Inter.” The Nerazzurri coach highlighted how pleased he was that his players responded to what he’d asked of them pre-match.

Stramaccioni then added that “it’s hardly surprising that Milito, Cassano and Palacio up front give us incredible quality. They worked very hard, that’s what I’d asked of them and they did so. They each need to put in a shift because the group is the most important thing.”

The coach then had a word for the Interisti: “I’ve got great respect for our supporters who are demanding and ambitious: we are too.

“Deki is more than a player, he’s a legend, a warrior, one of the many great men in this squad,” said Stramaccioni when asked about the reception Dejan Stankovic received as he made his comeback from injury.

Finally the chances of finishing third: “It’s hard to know who to go for, we’ve got two six-pointers against Fiorentina and AC Milan, actually the latter is just a friendly! And we’ve got the Europa League again now, so we’ll focus and see who does the best.”

Milito: "Doubly pleased, a goal and the win"

MILAN – Diego Milito celebrated his return to action with a goal – his first in 2013 – and spoke of his delight after the final whistle: “We’re happy with the win and I’m pleased to be back, it’s so hard being out: I’m doubly pleased. It was an important win tonight, now we need to keep going.”

The forward was then asked about him possibly returning to his homeland: “I love it here at Inter and I intend stay until my contract expires in 2014. Anything can happen in football though, it also depends on what the club want to do.”

Inter 3-1 Chievo: Nerazzurri snap winless streak to move fourth

Inter leapfrog city rivals Milan in Sunday’s Serie A evening kick-off, beating Chievo 3-1 at San Siro, which takes Andrea Stramaccioni’s men into fourth place in the table.

Goals from Antonio Cassano, Andrea Ranocchia and Diego Milito contributed to Inter’s commanding victory, allowing Nerazzurri to capitalise on dropped points over the weekend from Napoli, Lazio and Milan. A solitary goal from Luca Rigoni wasn’t enough for the visitors, and without Christian Puggioni in goal, the deficit could have been far larger.

Inside the opening two minutes, Inter grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck. Javier Zanetti drove down the right, winning a corner. The resulting set piece was swung towards the back post by Antonio Cassano, and after both Andrea Ranocchia and Juan Jesus failed to head home, the ball found its way back to the corner taker. On the half volley, Cassano smashed a drive towards the near post and the ball wriggled its way into the back of the net, following suspect goalkeeping from Chievo’s Christian Puggioni, giving the home side a dream start.

Early set-back aside, Chievo gave a good account of themselves, pressing high and forcing extra men forward at any opportunity. On 12 minutes however, Francesco Acerbi was left with his head in his hands, as the former Milan defender somehow failed to equalise for the visitors.

The centre half found himself in acres of space in the Inter penalty area, following a well-weighted free-kick delivery, and seemingly just had to get some firm contact on the ball to turn it home. Such simplicity escaped him, and his deftly flicked header skipped off the turf, going centimetres wide of Samir Handanovic’s back post.

On 21 minutes however, the away side were not ruing bad luck anymore. After taking a throw-in short and receiving the ball back, left-back Bojan Jokic was given too much space, as he was permitted to whip in a near post cross. Chievo captain Luca Rigoni found himself totally unmarked from eight yards out, nodding the ball past the helpless Handanovic, as Inter’s defensive frailties reared their head once more.

Esteban Cambiasso almost put the home side back ahead minutes later, as the Argentine drove powerfully through the heart of the Chievo defence, forcing Puggioni to race out and meet him, diverting the ball wide excellently with his outstretched foot.

Inter did indeed manage to poke themselves back in front from the resulting corner, though. Cassano whipped in a great delivery once more, and Ranocchia rose highest giving the keeper no chance, heading the ball into Puggioni’s top right-hand corner. The 24-year-old wheeled away in celebration, perhaps follow realisation that he may have just made up for his earlier error.

Gargano went close in quick succession, the latter from a free-kick on 37 minutes, as Chievo conceded a free-kick due to handball 25 yards from goal. The Inter midfielder lifted the ball over the wall and sweetly struck the inside of the post, with no teammates in black and blue stripes available to turn the rebound home.

After a sparkling first 45 minutes, everything seemed set in place for Inter to match into the European qualification places at half time. Offense reigned, opportunities flowed, as the defensive side of the game was willingly neglected.

Merely five minutes after the restart, Diego Milito thumped Inter’s third into the back of the net. Cambiasso broke down the right, before picking out Milito with a great pass. The Argentine swivelled elegantly from eight yards out, before thrashing the ball into the bottom corner with his first opportunity of the game. Nagatomo and Cambiasso were denied moments later, but Puggioni was at his best to deny Inter.

After the frantic first half, chances became few and far between after Inter’s third goal. Both sides traded half chances, with the best falling to Chievo, as Jokic continued to deliver quality balls into the box from the left.

Puggioni made a breathtaking double save on 70 minutes, as the Chievo defence was totally unlocked by a clever flick by substitute Ricky Alvarez. Nagatomo got onto the end of the inventive ball, but the Chievo keeper was quick off his line to make a block. The ball shot off the turf, finding itself at the feet of Rodrigo Palacio, but the Italian shot-stopper was back on his feet quickly to beat away the Argentine’s effort too.

Without the heroics of Puggioni, Inter fans may have left the stadium having watched their side dispatch six goals past their opponents, but the Chievo stopper was in top form to keep his side in the game throughout.

Stramaccioni’s men leave San Siro with their morale sky-high, as the mercilessly put Chievo to the sword, and with the full-time return of Dejan Stankovic and Diego Milito in the offing after injury, the Nerazzurri are certainly poised to push on in Serie A.

Inter 3-1 Chievo Verona

MILAN – It was a special night: Zanetti equalled Gianluca Pagliuca in second place on the all-time list for Serie A appearances (596), Milito was back fit and amongst the goals (first strike of 2013) and Stankovic finally completed his return from injury. Most importantly however, Inter beat Chievo 3-1.

The Nerazzurri went in front after just two minutes. Cassano’s corner was only half-cleared and Fant’Antonio fizzed a half volley in towards the near post. Puggioni was caught napping and could only fumble the ball into the back of the net. Chievo were level on 21 minutes however as Rigoni had all the time in the world to head home Jokic’s cross.

Inter kept going and Cambiasso went very close on 24 minutes after great work from Cassano. The hosts’ second arrived shortly after though, Ranocchia rising highest to power a header home from Cassano’s corner. Gargano might have further extended the Nerazzurri’s lead on 37 minutes but his free-kick clattered against the post. At half time it was Inter 2-1 Chievo.

Inter made it 3-1 after the break, as Milito celebrated his first goal of this calendar year with a powerful right-footed shot which flew past Puggioni. The Nerazzurri went in search of further goals and nearly added a fourth with good efforts from Alvarez and Palacio. The hosts deserved to win by a greater margin but it ended 3-1 and the Nerazzurri move onto 43 points in Serie A.

Inter 3-1 Chievo Verona (HT: 2-1)
Scorers: Cassano 2, Rigoni 21, Ranocchia 26, Milito 50.

Inter: 1 Handanovic; 4 Zanetti, 23 Ranocchia, 40 Juan Jesus, 55 Nagatomo; 19 Cambiasso (Stankovic 76), 17 Kuzmanovic (Schelotto 83), 21 Gargano; 8 Palacio, 22 Milito (Alvarez 65), 99 Cassano.
Subs not used: 27 Belec, 30 Carrizo, 6 Silvestre, 7 Schelotto, 18 Rocchi, 31 Pereira, 42 Jonathan.
Coach: Andrea Stramaccioni.

Chievo Verona: 1 Puggioni; 7 Seymour (Luciano 70), 3 Andreolli, 2 Dainelli, 51 Acerbi, 13 Jokic; 14 Cofie (Spyropoulos 64), 16 Rigoni, 56 Hetemaj; 43 Paloschi (Pellissier 76), 77 Thereau.
Subs not used: 18 Squizzi, 88 Ujkani, 12 Cesar, 17 Sampirisi, 21 Frey, 25 Vacek, 26 Farkas, 27 Hauche, 33 Papp.
Coach: Eugenio Corini.

Referee: Marco Guida (Torre Annunziata).
Booked: Rigoni 18, Ranocchia 28, Stankovic 90+3.
Added time: 2+4 minutes.
Attendance: 37,886. 

Serie A: Inter v Chievo starting line-ups

MILAN – Here are the two starting line-ups for Inter v Chievo, Week 24 of Serie A 2012/13, tonight at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza (kick-off 20:45).

Inter: 1
Handanovic; 4 Zanetti, 23 Ranocchia, 40 Juan Jesus, 55 Nagatomo; 19
Cambiasso, 17 Kuzmanovic, 21 Gargano; 8 Palacio, 22 Milito, 99

Subs: 27 Belec, 30 Carrizo, 5 Stankovic,
6 Silvestre, 7 Schelotto, 11 Alvarez, 18 Rocchi, 31 Pereira, 42

Coach: Andrea Stramaccioni.

Chievo Verona: 1
Puggioni; 7 Seymour, 3 Andreolli, 2 Dainelli, 51 Acerbi, 13 Jokic; 14
Cofie, 16 Rigoni, 56 Hetemaj; 43 Paloschi, 77 Thereau.

Subs: 18 Squizzi, 88 Ujkani, 4 Spyropoulos, 10 Luciano, 12
Cesar, 17 Sampirisi, 21 Frey, 25 Vacek, 26 Farkas, 27 Hauche, 31
Pellissier, 33 Papp.
Coach: Eugenio Corini.

Referee: Marco Guida (Torre Annunziata).