Nerazzurri make it two in a row

Posted by David Wilson

For the first time since November, Inter have won two consecutive Serie A games after beating Fiorentina 2-1 on Saturday in Florence. The win also ended the Nerazzurri’s run of five consecutive away defeats.

This was without a doubt Inter's best result of the season. It was the first time they have beaten one of the clubs ahead of them in the table and to do it away from home makes the win even more impressive.

Rodrigo Palacio gave Inter a 1-0 half-time lead when Fredy Guarin dinked a perfectly weighted ball over the defence for Palacio to control on his chest and smash into the back of the net. It was a sublime pass from Guarin, the kind of pass I wish he would make more often. Guarin is an incredibly talented player, and hopefully we will see more of that in these last dozen or so games.

But within minutes of the start of the second half Fiorentina tied the game up when Juan Cuadrado curled an effort from outside the box that Samir Handanovic should have done better with it. Yes the shot might have taken a slight deflection but it still went right under the Inter goalkeeper.

Diego Milito had another disappointing outing and Walter Mazzarri finally brought on Mauro Icardi and the young striker made an immediate impact when he smashed home a cross from Yuto Nagatomo in the 66th minute. Yes, Icaradi was half a yard off side before Nagatomo crossed the ball, but that does not take away from what was a terrific finish by the young striker.

Inter fans have been clamoring for Mazzarri to play Icardi for weeks now, and hopefully his goal and performance will cause the Inter boss to give him a run of games now.

Icardi gives Inter not only a youthful energy up-front, but also a more physical presence and aerial threat. In his 35 minutes, Icardi won five aerial duals, the most of any Inter player.

For all of their good play, Inter almost threw away the points at the end as Mario Gomez was inches away from connecting with Alessandro Matri's cross-shot.

A Gomez goal would have been really harsh on Inter, who created more than enough chances to win this game comfortably. But converting chances into goals has been Inter’s Achilles heel all season and it almost cost them again.

Mazzarri called Inter "naïve" after the game for the way that they almost let Fiorentina back into the match and I would have to agree with the Inter manager with that statement.

Inter were naïve at the end in finishing the game but is that the players fault or the manager's?

With less than two minutes to go Inter had a corner and Hernanes’ cross was headed clear. Why Hernanes did not keep the ball in the corner and run down more of the clock I don’t know, but Fiorentina headed the corner clear and immediately launched a counter attack and when Zdravko Kuzmanovic pulled up with a cramp Inter somehow found themselves outnumbered at the back. How is that possible for Inter to be outnumbered defensively in the last two minutes of a game when they are nursing a 2-1 lead? Fortunately the ball was put out of play for a throw in, but it was situation that should never have arisen.

Which brings me to Inter's defensive strength.

For the second consecutive game Mazzarri went with Walter Samuel in the heart of the Inter defence and Kuzmanovic sitting right in front of him. Inter have only conceded two goals in those games and have looked much stronger defensively. Samuel had added a physical presence that was lacking from Inter’s defence while Kuzmanovic has done a great occupying the space in front of the Inter back line.

The physical presence of Samuel cannot be overlooked. He nine clearances on Saturday were almost more than twice as much as any other Inter player

When he has played this season, Inter have had a toughness that has been missing when he has been injured. With the performances of Samuel this season, it is clear to see why the Nerazzurri have been so heavily linked with Manchester United captain and center half Nemanja Vidic. The two players have a lot of similar qualities and Samuel’s performances are an indication of how good Vidic will be in an Inter shirt.

Mazzarri has struggled to find someone to play that defensive midfield role all season, but Kuzmanovic has shown that when fit, he might be the best defensively midfielder on the team.

So overall, a very big win for Inter on Saturday. With Cagliari at home next week, and Fiorentina having to go to Parma, the gap to fourth place could be cut to two points. Catching Napoli in third I still think is out of the question, but if Inter can continue to improve, and finish fourth, that will set the Nerazzurri up nicely for next season and challenging for a Champions League place.

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