Two goals in three second-half minutes saw Inter come from behind to prevail 3-1 over a spirited Fiorentina in Serie A on Tuesday night.
Fiorentina started the game on the front foot, forcing Samir Begovic into three fine saves in the opening quarter of an hour. First, Nicolas Gonzalez’s close-range effort was smothered before both Dusan Vlahovic and Cristiano Biraghi saw rasping efforts tipped around the post.
The Viola continued to probe and Alfred Duncan almost opened the scoring in spectacular fashion on 21 minutes, unleashing an absolute rocket from all of 35 yards that soared just over the upright.
Vincenzo Italiano’s side did eventually make their early dominance pay midway through the half. In an ongoing battle, Gonzalez beat Milan Skriniar in the air in the left channel before charging forward and laying the ball on a plate for Ricardo Sottil to tap it in at the back post.
Inter thought they were level shortly before the break through an own goal, but Matija Nastasic had his blushes spared as Ivan Perisic was adjudged to have been offside when he was slipped through to produce the cross that the Serb diverted beyond his own goalkeeper.
Despite the hosts’ dominant first half, Inter were level early in the second period. Wing-back Matteo Darmian ghosted forward and was found by Nicolo Barella in the box before blasting home from the angle.
Inter snatched a lead three minutes later as Edin Dzeko rose to meet a Hakan Calhanoglu corner in the centre of the penalty area and nodded it beyond Bartlomiej Dragowski – his bread and butter.
A hot-headed Gonzalez was then sent off in the late stages. First he was booked for aggressively demanding a yellow card for Alessandro Bastoni after having his shirt pulled, before sarcastically applauding the referee and being given his marching orders.
Inter maintained the lead comfortably thereafter and doubled it with three minutes remaining. Roberto Gagliardini found Perisic in acres of space in the penalty area and he rolled it into half-empty net to seal the win and send the visitors top of Serie A.
Here’s how the Inter players rated…
Samir Handanovic (GK) – 8/10 – Forced into three good early saves, with the second from Vlahovic particularly impressive. No chance for the opener.
Milan Skriniar (CB) – 6/10 – Good battle with Gonzalez – one in which he was unfortunate to be booked early. Beaten in the air by the Argentine in the build-up to the opener.
Stefan De Vrij (CB) – 7/10 – Given a tough time by Vlahovic as the central centre-back. Untroubled in the second half – the most solid of the defenders.
Alessandro Bastoni (CB) – 6/10 – Didn’t have much to do, but occasionally sloppy in possession.
Matteo Darmian (RWB) – 7/10 – Hardly involved before hammering in an equaliser. Booked and subbed shortly after.
Nicolo Barella (CM) – 6/10 – Not his usual dominant self in the first period. Cute pass to assist Darmian. Subbed soon after.
Marcelo Brozovic (CM) – 7/10 – Struggled to get a hold of the midfield in the early exchanges. Sloppily gave it away minutes into the second half as Vlahovic went close. Recovered well and saw a late effort saved.
Hakan Calhanoglu (AM) – 7/10 – Stung the keeper’s fingertips from a free kick in an otherwise anonymous first half. Slipped to send a half-chance high and wide. Excellent corner for a simple header for Dzeko to win it. Booked and subbed.
Ivan Perisic (LWB) – 7/10 – Showed he’s not a defender, sleeping as Sottil stole in to tap home at the back post. Offside as he forced an own goal from Nastasic. Tapped in to make it 3-1 late on.
Edin Dzeko (ST) – 7/10 – Some nice link-up with his strike partner, but kept at arm’s length by the hosts in the first 45. Soared to nod home for 2-1 – an easy goal for a striker of his quality. Subbed.
Lautaro Martinez (ST) – 6/10 – Didn’t see enough of the ball in the first period, but looked threatening when he did. Missed a gilt-edged chance to make it 3-1 from the edge of the six-yard box. Subbed.
Denzel Dumfries (RWB) – 7/10 – Typically marauding.
Alexis Sanchez (ST) – 6/10 – Wasted a decent opening, lashing over.
Matias Vecino (CM) – N/A
Federico Dimarco (LWB) – N/A
Roberto Gagliardini (CM) – N/A