Hakan Calhanoglu hit a stunning goal on his Inter debut and Edin Dzeko followed suit as new coach Simone Inzaghi was treated by his team to a 4-0 win over Genoa.
After defecting from Milan to join the Rossoneri’s city rivals in the close season, Calhanoglu also managed an assist at San Siro, setting up the opener for Milan Skriniar.
This was about as ideal an opening-day outcome as former Lazio boss Inzaghi could have imagined, with his team two goals to the good inside quarter of an hour, making light of the changes that have followed their Scudetto success last season. Arturo Vidal got the third in the second half before Dzeko marked his Inter bow with a classic header in the 87th minute.
Inzaghi’s predecessor Antonio Conte quit in May, Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi have departed in big-money deals, and as recently as Friday evening the influential technical chief Gabriele Oriali was “relieved” of his duties, but this did not look like a team in crisis.
Veteran striker Dzeko has arrived from Roma, and both he and Calhanoglu starred here, clicking immediately.
Stefano Sensi slotted in just behind targetman Dzeko in a 3-5-1-1 formation, but it was a defender who made the sixth-minute breakthrough. Calhanoglu notched nine assists for Milan in Serie A last season, and his first for the Nerazzurri arrived when his whipped corner from the right was headed powerfully into the left corner of the Genoa goal by Skriniar.
Genoa’s marking left a lot to be desired, but there was little they could do to prevent Inter stretching their lead in the 14th minute with a delicious goal from Calhanoglu, who collected a short pass from Dzeko and thrashed a 25-yard shot into the bottom right corner.
Dzeko hit the crossbar with a deflected shot on the turn from Matteo Darmian’s cross, and Ivan Perisic was denied a goal by a VAR offside verdict after sprinting through and beating Salvatore Sirigu, who had earlier saved well from Marcelo Brozovic.
Perisic was again marginally offside before he teed up Calhanoglu to rifle into the top left corner after the interval, and that meant another Inter goal did not stand.
They found a third goal in the 74th minute though, substitute Vidal drilling in from close range after Dzeko’s shot was parried out. Nicolo Barella teased the ball into Vidal and he converted, with Dzeko later meeting Vidal’s delicious delivery and making no mistake. Just like Inter all afternoon.
What does it mean? Ideal start for Inzaghi
This was about as smooth a start as the new regime could have hoped for, the early goals putting paid to any tension after the close-season upheaval. Beating a distinctly limited Genoa side can only tell us so much, with the real tests still to come, but Inter looked slick and the new recruits acquitted themselves admirably.
Dream start for Calhanoglu
The only disappointment for Inter’s new playmaker came when his celebrations were short-lived the second time he found the net, due to Perisic straying offside. He came off after 76 outstanding minutes, receiving a big hug from Inzaghi. By half-time, Calhanoglu had chalked up a goal and an assist, among three chances created, an instant Inter hero. He created two further chances before being awarded a rest, and a deserved ovation.
Kallon catches the eye
Sierra Leonean striker Yayah Kallon looks a real prospect for Genoa, and on just his second Serie A appearance he gave Inter’s defence cause for concern. Kallon should have buried a chance just before half-time but swept his left-footed shot wide of the right post. He drew a solid save from Samir Handanovic at the start of the second half before being substituted soon after. His talent is raw and he played just six passes in 54 minutes, while having only 20 touches, but the 20-year-old is one to watch.
Key Opta Stats: Inter run goes on
– Inter have won each of their last seven Serie A meetings against Genoa by an aggregate score of 25-0.
– The hosts are the first side to have scored 4+ goals in the season debut in three successive Serie A campaigns since doing it themselves between 1959 and 1961.
– Calhanoglu and Dzeko are the first players to both score and assist in their Serie A debut with Inter since Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2006 against Fiorentina.
– Playmaker Calhanoglu has been involved in two goals in his first 14 minutes for Inter (one goal, one assist) – it took nine games for him to do that with Milan.
– Dzeko played his 200th Serie A match – he has now been involved in 10 goals against Genoa, more than against any other side in the competition.
– Handanovic played in a Serie A game for the 17th season. Only Gianluigi Buffon (24) has more in the three points for a win era.
Inter will be back in Serie A action on Friday, when they travel to face Hellas Verona. Genoa have to wait an additional two days for their next game, a home encounter with Napoli.