Inter’s faint Scudetto hopes were dashed on Sunday afternoon as they fell to a shock 2-1 defeat to Bologna at San Siro.
Bologna’s resistance was brief as a dominant Inter took the lead just after the 20-minute mark through a Romelu Lukaku finish. The Belgian tapped home after Lautaro Martinez’s glancing header rebounded off the post.
The Nerazzurri pressed for a second and twice went close through Ashley Young – looking more like his vintage self – and a bright Lautaro, before Riccardo Orsolini spurned a glorious opportunity one-v-one with Samir Handanovic to restore parity.
Musa Barrow also went close for Bologna after the restart with an effort from distance which crashed off the inside of the post, but any hope of the visitors getting back into the contest looked to have vanished by Roberto Soriano’s dismissal for dissent prior to the hour mark.
But remarkably, after Lautaro Martinez had his penalty saved by ?ukasz Skorupski, Bologna turned it around in an instant as 18-year-old Musa Juwara and Barrow scored either side of Alessandro Bastoni’s dismissal to stun the hosts.
Substitute Alexis Sanchez was then denied brilliantly in the closing stages by Skorupski as Inter went in search of a late equaliser, but the visitors held on to secure a 2-1 victory.
Key Talking Point
After showing incredible grinta to turn around a 1-0 deficit in the last ten minutes at Parma last Sunday, the complete opposite was on display in this one. They collapsed.
This was a game they just shouldn’t have lost. In the opening period Inter were completely dominant, with their efficiencies in the first phase, Antonio Conte’s automatism’s and devastating verticality completely overwhelming Bologna. And after they went a goal up, they spurned several glorious opportunities to double their lead – no less than a penalty which Lukaku delegated to Lautaro in a confidence-boost bid.
What a fatal error that would prove.
In the blink of an eye, Inter were behind, as Bologna made the most of the brief spell of pressure they imposed on Conte’s side. The Nerazzurri couldn’t cope with the electric Juwara and after Bastoni’s sending off, their defensive structure was simply awful. Victory for Bologna was inevitable.
Conte still has work to do – and a few more dabbles in the transfer market – if he wants to morph this Inter side into real winners.
Starting XI: Handanovic (6); D’Ambrosio (6), De Vrij (8), Bastoni (5); Candreva (7), Gagliardini (5), Brozovic (7), Young (6); Eriksen (6); Lautaro (6), Lukaku (7).
Subs: Alexis (5), Esposito (N/A), Biraghi (N/A), Vecino (N/A), Valero (N/A)
On a bitterly disappointing afternoon for the Nerazzurri, there was little to fault in Stefan de Vrij’s display (again).
The finest centre-back in Serie A was at his imperious best in this one, as his aggression thwarted the dangerous Barrow early on while his composure in possession ensured Inter were able to bypass Bologna’s first line of press at a canter throughout – even showing off his ability to distribute over longer distances to the flanks as well.
The Dutchman certainly didn’t deserve to be on the losing side on Sunday afternoon.
Starting XI: Skorupski (9); Tomiyasu (5), Danilo (6), Denswil (6), Dijks (6); Dominguez (8), Schouten (7); Orsolini (5), Soriano (7), Sansone (6); Barrow (8).
Subs: Bani (7), Palacio (6), Juwara (9), Svanberg (N/A), Baldursson (N/A)
Inter face the tricky test of travelling to Hellas Verona on Thursday night before hosting the struggling Torino at the weekend.
Bologna, meanwhile, host Sassuolo and visit Parma in their next two Serie A encounters.