Inter put themselves within touching distance of the Serie A title on Saturday with a solid 2-0 victory over Crotone.
Romelu Lukaku came closest to breaking the deadlock early on, but his header hit the post and rebounded away from danger. Lautaro Martinez tried his luck on the stroke of half-time, but his low drive suffered the same fate as that of his strike partner, and I Nerazzurri went into the break all square.
Inter continued to dominate possession in the second half, but were only able to create a handful of half-chances as the seconds ticked by. But the game changed on 69 minutes, when substitute Christian Eriksen struck home a vicious drive from the edge of the box to fire Antonio Conte’s side into the lead.
Lukaku thought he’d wrapped up the three points on 83 minutes, but his tap-in was ruled out for offside. Inter remained focused to see out the final minutes before Achraf Hakimi slotted home to put some gloss on the scoreline, edging I Nerazzurri to within one game of Serie A title glory.
Right, let’s check out the player ratings.
Samir Handanovic (GK) – 7/10 – Little to do in the first half, except deal with the odd hanging cross. Nothing out of the ordinary. Second half was equally as quiet, but stayed alert until the end.
Milan Skriniar (CB) – 7/10 – Wasn’t fooled by the trickery of Adam Ounas, waiting until the ideal moment to stick out a foot or block a shot. Took a yellow for the team to stop a Crotone breakaway.
Stefan de Vrij (CB) – 8/10 – Absolutely brilliant yet again. The best defender in the backline, sweeping up and adding a layer of assurance to those around him. At his peak.
Alessandro Bastoni (CB) – 7/10 – Solid, even if little action came his way. Never afraid to get involved, and played his part in another impressive rearguard display.
Achraf Hakimi (RWB) – 7/10 – Cut inside and attacked from every angle to try and break down a stubborn Crotone backline. Scored to put the icing on the cake in injury time. Just the perfect man to operate on Conte’s right flank.
Nicolo Barella (CM) – 7/10 – Often spotted high up the pitch, linking with Hakimi to free the wing-back down the right flank. Played in Martinez brilliantly but the forward mis-controlled. Released his team for the counter attacking second goal.
Marcelo Brozovic (CM) – 8/10 – Snapped into tackles just inside his own half, setting his teammates free on the counter attack. Another intelligent display, never letting the control slip from his grasp.
Stefano Sensi (CM) – 7/10 – Added some zip to the midfield, playing a more dynamic game than Christian Eriksen usually offers. Didn’t demonstrate the eye for a defence-splitting pass that the Dane boasts, however. Drilled a strike at goal, but hit the keeper’s midriff.
Matteo Darmian (LWB) – 7/10 – Had a crack at goal to try and extend his scoring hot streak. Stuck some decent crosses into the box but Crotone defended admirably. Subbed.
Romelu Lukaku (ST) – 8/10 – Flicked a header onto the post from an in-swinging corner. Worked hard with his back to goal and proved decisive with his hold up and lay off to supply Eriksen for the breakthrough. Saw a late strike ruled out for offside. A huge contribution as per.
Lautaro Martinez (ST) – 6/10 – Tried an ambitious overhead kick, but it flew over the bar. Failed to control an outrageous through ball from Barella. Shame. Rattled the post with a low strike from the edge of the box. Subbed off.
Christian Eriksen (CM) – 8/10 – SUPER SUB! Came on after 65 minutes and won the game four minutes later. A brilliant drive to round off a superb move. Decisive, yet again.
Alexis Sanchez (ST) – 7/10
Ivan Perisic (LWB) – 7/10