Alessandro Bastoni emerged as Inter’s knight in shining armour in the Nerazzurri’s 2-1 win over Lazio.
The result extended the reigning champions’ winning run in Serie A to eight matches and helped them leapfrog Milan in the league table with a game in hand.
The match could have gone either way, however, as both teams wasted several good scoring opportunities.
Simone Inzaghi faced his old club Lazio for the second time after taking up the baton for Inter.
The 48-year-old was hoping for better luck this time around as their visit to Stadio Olimpico last year resulted in a 3-1 defeat, which happens to be their only loss in the current Serie A campaign.
Inter had to leave out Hakan Calhanoglu, who was serving a one match suspension, and Edin Dzeko, who is recovering from COVID, but they started the match strong regardless.
Ivan Peresic sent a warning shot early in the match as the Croatian’s header sailed narrowly over the Biancocelesti crossbar.
In the 17th minute, Lautaro Martinez found the back of the net, but the Argentine timed his run a bit too early as he latched onto a beautifully weighted Alexis Sanchez pass.
The linesman duly lifted his flag for offside.
Martinez might have already started to feel like it was not his day since he was brilliantly denied by Thomas Strakosha only a few minutes ago.
Inter did manage to pick the lock of the Lazio defence through a corner later on, as the ball fell to a prowling Alessandro Bastoni after initial clearance.
Bastoni launched a 30-yard screamer that flew into the top corner of the Lazio net.
Defensive mistake helps Lazio
Inter have only themselves to blame for losing that lead as a defensive mix-up allowed the visitors a route back into the game.
Danilo Cataldi exhibited great foresight as he lobbed the ball over the Inter defence targeting an on-rushing Ciro Immobile. Immobile effortlessly shrugged off the resistance of De Vrij and Milan Skriniar to find Samir Handanovic alone at the Inter goal.
Handanovic had no other option but to leave his lines, but he helplessly saw Immobile drifting past him and sending the ball into an inviting, unguarded net.
It was Immobile’s 15th Serie A strike, which brought him alongside the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Mohamed Salah.
Only these three forwards have scored at least 15 goals across the top five European leagues in each of the last six seasons.
Immobile’s goal was a massive boost for the visiting side, and they came close to scoring again when Pedro challenged Handanovic on a one-on-one encounter, but the Slovenian’s reliable hands kept the scoreline unchanged.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who said in his post-match interview that Lazio deserved more from this match, missed a glorious chance to put his team ahead seven minutes after the restart.
He failed to apply a fitting finishing to an excellent Felipe Anderson cross and missed an open net.
Relentless Inter press for second
Inter were also active in the search for a second goal.
Alexis Sanchez tested Strakosha with a superb free-kick.
Strakosha also denied Dumfries from close range before Luiz Felipe prevented Iven Perisic’s rebound attempt from crossing the goal line.
The decisive goal came in the 67th minute and Bastoni was involved again.
The defender floated a magnificent cross into the Lazio territory and Skriniar met it with an equally convincing header to restore Inter’s lead.