Tough Torino draw for UCL-chasing Inter

Posted by David Wilson

Inter Milan struggled to hide their disbelief after Torino grabbed a late equaliser.GettyImagesInter Milan struggled to hide their disbelief after Torino grabbed a late equaliser.

After two disappointing games against Cagliari and Roma, questions were being asked about whether Inter were really Champions League contenders or not.

With Napoli and Juventus both losing this weekend, everything was set up for Inter to reconfirm their Champions league credentials against Torino. The question was could they?

Unfortunately the answer to that question is still unknown as 10-man Inter drew 3-3 in Turin on Sunday.

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Who knows how the game would have turned out if Samir Handanovic had not been sent off after just five minutes. It was a horrendous decision by the referee. Yes it was a penalty, but to send Handanovic off for denying a goal scoring opportunity was a miscarriage of justice.

Juan Pablo Carrizo came off the bench and saved the resultant penalty, but unfortunately, while Carrizo's first contribution to the game was sensational, his last contribution was memorable for the wrong reasons as he got a Torino free-kick all wrong deep in added time, costing Inter a goal and two points.

Down to 10-men this chart from fourfourtwo.com shows how Inter got pushed back by Torino.

Inter Milan player statistics against Torino.Other / FourFourTwoInter Milan player statistics against Torino.

Without the injured Ricky Alvarez, Rodrigo Palacio was asked to play both the No. 9 and No. 10 roles and he was brilliant. He worked his socks off pressuring the Torino defence and chasing everything remotely heading his way.

As you can see from the chart, he was back closer to Esteban Cambiasso for most of the game, something that you will rarely see!

But it wasn't just the defensive part of Palacio's game that was impressive. He still managed to get himself into the Torino penalty box and score two goals.

And credit has to go also to Walter Mazzarri for the way he approached this game.

After Palacio made it 2-2 with 25 minutes to go, Mazzarri took off Saphir Taider and brought on Ishak Belfodil. You don't do that if you are settling for a draw and the gamble almost paid off when, ten minutes after coming on, Palacio and Belfodil combined to put Inter ahead 3-2.

That was the kind of leadership and tactical move by Mazzarri that gives a team inspiration. The players see that the manager thinks that they can win, despite being a man short, and that belief helps the tired players run a little more and work a little harder.

But then a silly foul by Wallace and a goalkeeping mistake by Carrizo ruined all that.

It was a poor last five minutes by Wallace. First he went on a run forward and needlessly gave away possession by putting the ball into the Torino penalty box where there were no Inter players. Then he commits a needless foul that resulted in the goal. Learning how to close out a game takes experience and hopefully the young Brazilian will learn from these mistakes.

For most of the season Inter have predominately been a team that has attacked down the left via Yuto Nagatomo. But on Sunday, that was not the case as Inter found a lot more success down the right with Jonathan as the chart from whoscored.com shows.

Playing a man short had something to do with the three goals that Inter conceded, but that is seven goals that Inter have conceded in their last two games. Is it time to get worried about Mazzarri's three man defence?

The loss of Hugo Campagnaro to a training injury on Saturday was a huge loss because, if he had played on Sunday, I don't think that Inter would have conceded three goals.

Without Campagnaro, Mazzarri had to go with a back-three of Rolando, Andrea Ranocchia and Juan and they don't inspire me. It is not a surprise to see that whoscored.com had the Inter back-three as the team's worst players, with Rolando's 5.9 being the low score on the team -- his error that lead to one of the Torino goals helping drag down his score.

So despite playing 85 minutes with only 10-men and coming away with a 3-3 draw, this feels more like a loss than point gained for Inter. That is because they had a chance to cut the gap to Juventus and Napoli to only two points with a win.

With a relatively easy schedule for the next month or so, this was the weekend for Inter to capitalize on the defeats of Juventus and Napoli and pull themselves back into the Champions League race. Unfortunately that did not happen due to two mental errors at the end of the game.

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