Inter made mince meat of a terrible Cagliari side on Sunday evening, running out 4-0 winners at San Siro.
Goals from Hakan Calhanoglu, Alexis Sanchez and a brace from Lautaro Martinez were enough for I Nerazzurri to climb to the top of the Serie A table after Napoli slipped to a shock defeat to Empoli earlier in the day.
As you can guess, Inter started brightly – dictating the tempo of the game with relative ease while Cagliari’s defence sat right on the edge of their own box.
Despite Inter’s territorial dominance, Cagliari’s tactical decision to sit deep and essentially just hope for the best actually worked quite well in the early exchanges as Walter Mazzarri’s side were able to restrict their hosts to long-range efforts on goal for the most part.
After holding out as best they could for most of the first half, Cagliari finally succumbed to Inter’s offensive front on the half-hour mark via a set piece – yes, Serie A’s best set-piece takers took the lead against Serie A’s worst defenders against set pieces courtesy of a set piece (shock horror). The goal came from a brilliant Calhanoglu corner-kick delivery which was headed home by Martinez at the near post.
Ten minutes later it could’ve/should’ve been 2-0. First Alexis Sanchez was remarkably denied a goal by Alessio Cragno, who leapt off of his line to smother a shot from the edge of the six-yard box. Then, about three minutes after his heroics to stop Sanchez, Cragno dived to his right to stop a Martinez penalty – more than making up for chopping down Dumfries to give away the spot-kick in the first place.
On the 50th minute mark I Nerazzurri finally bagged their second courtesy of the much-maligned Sanchez. The former Man Utd and Arsenal man connected brilliantly with a cross from Barella to volley the ball past Cragno in the Cagliari goal.
It was all Inter thereafter, with Cragno being the only Cagliari player looking remotely competent – preventing Dumfries and Sanchez from making it 3-0 before the hour mark.
The stopper could do nothing to stop Calhanoglu’s effort in the 65th minute, however, when he cut in from the right flank and thundered the ball into the top-right corner from 25 yards out.
It was 4-0 a few moments after, as Martinez latched onto a chipped through ball from Barella before slipping the ball into the net.
And that was how it ended.
Here’s some player ratings from a very impressive Inter performance.
Samir Handanovic (GK) – 5/10 – Made one save. And that was it. Cagliari were/are quite a bad team.
Milan Skriniar (CB) – 5/10 – Literally had nothing to do.
Stefan de Vrij (CB) – 5/10 – Like Skriniar, had nothing to do
Alessandro Bastoni (CB) – 6/10 – Turned into Roberto Baggio for about five seconds after the break. That was fun.
Denzel Dumfries (RWB) – 7/10 – Stretched Cagliari’s back ten well all evening. Looks like the perfect replacement for Achraf Hakimi.
Nicolo Barella (CM) – 8/10 – Fantastic assist for Sanchez’s goal, and another for Martinez’s second. Cagliari’s midfield didn’t have an answer for him.
Marcelo Brozovic (CM) – 7/10 – As composed on and off the ball as ever.
Hakan Calhanoglu (CM) – 8/10 – His great form continues. Yet another brilliant corner kick led to Inter’s opener, and bagged a worldie in the second half to make it 3-0.
Ivan Perisic (LWB) – 6/10 – Not as spectacular as he has been recently, but still a decent outing.
Lautaro Martinez (ST) – 9/10 – Great header to give his side the lead, and bagged a second after the hour mark. He did miss a penalty, but that doesn’t exactly matter, does it? I mean, look at the scoreline.
Alexis Sanchez (ST) – 7/10 – A lot livelier than expected, and bagged a quite wonderful goal in the second half.
Arturo Vidal – 5/10.
Federico Dimarco – 5/10.
Martin Satriano – N/A.
Stefano Sensi – N/A.
Mattia Zanotti – N/A.