Inter on a mission, not in transition - Inzaghi hails high-flying defending champions

By Sports Desk November 27, 2021

Simone Inzaghi scoffed at the idea of this being a "transition year" for Inter as the reigning Serie A champions showed they are firmly in the title hunt again.

Wholesale change at San Siro has not affected the Nerazzurri's ambition, and a 2-0 win at Venezia ramped up pressure on early front-runners Napoli and Milan.

Inzaghi arrived in the close season to replace Scudetto-winning boss Antonio Conte, while star men Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi left in big-money transfers. Christian Eriksen has been unavailable since suffering a cardiac arrest at Euro 2020 while on Denmark duty.

Inter appear to have chosen shrewdly by bringing in Inzaghi from Lazio as head coach, while players such as Hakan Calhanoglu and Edin Dzeko have been acquired too.

Calhanoglu's fourth goal of the season – matching his Serie A haul for previous club Milan last term – put Inter on their way against Venezia, before Lautaro Martinez made sure with a stoppage-time penalty.

For Calhanoglu, this was the third successive Serie A game in which he has scored, the first time he has achieved that feat.

Inter duly moved within a point of Napoli and Milan, who are in action on Sunday, and Inzaghi said: "Some people said this was supposed to be a transition year to rebuild. I came in and the club helped me in everything. These players are magnificent and I think we're getting better by the day. We have to keep going like this.

"I'm coaching a group of great players and great men. We got straight down to work in the summer and despite losing Lukaku, Hakimi and Eriksen, we brought in players suited to the way we want to play. Now we're continuing to grow one step at a time."

 

Inter were dominant and deserved winners at Stadio Pier Luigi Penzo, capping a week in which they made sure of their place in the Champions League knockout stage by beating Shakhtar Donetsk. They also beat Napoli last weekend, inflicting a first league defeat of the season on Luciano Spalletti's men.

"It's a great period for us and this was a big week," Inzaghi said, quoted on Inter's website.

"We played some lovely football and the only downside was we couldn't get the second goal to put it to bed earlier. Leaving the game open against a dangerous, well-drilled side like Venezia is always risky. But it was our third game in a short space of time and the lads did a fantastic job."

There were drawbacks to the win in Venice, with Inzaghi reporting Matteo Darmian suffered a "twinge in his thigh".

"Hopefully it's nothing serious. He's a very important player for us," Inzaghi said.

And Calhanoglu came off early in the second half having needed a thigh massage during the interval.

Inzaghi said the Turkish midfielder was "doing brilliantly" for Inter, adding: "After three consecutive games I didn't want to risk him so I took him off 10 minutes into the second half."

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    The Danish midfielder has been training with Ajax in recent weeks.

    But the 29-year-old former Tottenham star is set to return to England.

     

    TOP STORY – ERIKSEN SET TO COMPLETE BEES DEAL

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    Ex-Tottenham star Eriksen has agreed terms but needs to pass a medical with the Bees to seal the imminent deal.

    The Denmark international, who suffered a cardiac arrest at Euro 2020, was unable to play for Inter this season due to Italian football regulations.

     

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  • 'The team could have lost its head' – Inzaghi hails Inter's mentality after comeback win over Venezia 'The team could have lost its head' – Inzaghi hails Inter's mentality after comeback win over Venezia

    Simone Inzaghi praised his Inter players for not losing their heads after they came from behind to beat Venezia 2-1 at San Siro on Saturday.

    Thomas Henry had put Venezia in front against the run of play with an excellent header, before Nicolo Barella ensured Inter went into the break level.

    The reigning champions looked like they would drop points at home in Serie A for only the third time since October 2020, but Edin Dzeko sealed an important win in the 90th minute.

    The result lifted the Nerazzurri five points clear of Milan at the Serie A summit, with Inzaghi citing his players' ability to remain calm after Venezia's opener as the key to their success.

    "The team believed to the end. The lads did so well considering we were coming off the Atalanta game and extra time in the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa," he told DAZN.

    "If we analyse the goal, we should've done better and been more attentive before Henry's header. We need to get back to being ferocious in these situations.

    "The team could've lost its head after that goal, but we kept going and turned it around in the end.

    "We won the Supercoppa, we progressed in the Champions League and Coppa Italia – all these are important signs and now we enjoy this victory too.

    "We'll get back together on Wednesday and start preparing for the derby."

    Inzaghi also bemoaned the state of the San Siro pitch, saying it could harm his side's title tilt.

    "The biggest problem both Inter and Milan face is the state of San Siro, as the turf is becoming unplayable for both of us," he added.

    "We could've done better, but honestly the turf is awful. We need to take action – it has never been this bad before."

    Dzeko had gone four Serie A games without scoring before his crucial winner, which came from his seventh attempt on goal, and he appeared to praise Inzaghi for not substituting him. 

    "When you score at the last minute it's normal to cheer with anger," the striker said. "We certainly missed my goals but the important thing is that the team wins. It was nice to score in the 90th minute."

    "Inzaghi understands football; he has played football and he knows that I can solve the match even in the last minute.

    "There are no easy ones in Serie A. Today we saw it and perhaps it was one of the more difficult ones for us this year. 

    "We suffer from time to time, but the important thing is to win and take home the three points. They defended well and there were few spaces, but to find the goal you need patience."

  • Kingston College beat Jamaica College 5-4 on penalties to win 16th Manning Cup title Kingston College beat Jamaica College 5-4 on penalties to win 16th Manning Cup title

    Kingston College dethroned rivals Jamaica College to claim their 16th Manning Cup title.

    After playing out a 1-1 draw in regulation, Kingston College held their nerve to secure a 5-4 penalty shootout victory in the game at Stadium East.

    Kingston College took the lead in the 29th minute through talisman Christopher Pearson who gave them the advantage with a calm finish.

    Jamaica College got their equalizer with a 43rd-minute free-kick from captain Duncan McKenzie.

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    Kingston College captain Jemone Barclay stepped up to slot home KC’s first penalty.

    Romaine Blake followed suit for Jamaica College to make it 1-1.

    Carrick Stewart of KC and Michael Graham of JC then both scored to make it 2-2.

    KC’s goal-scorer on the day, Christopher Pearson, then stepped up to kick the third penalty but was the first casualty as his penalty was saved by JC goalkeeper Denzel Smith.

    Captain Duncan McKenzie then scored for JC to make it 3-2 in the shootout.

    KC’s Romario Campbell, who was put on at the end of added time specifically take a penalty, scored to make it 3-3.

    JC’s Giovanni Mitto then stepped up to try and make it 4-3 but blasted his penalty over the bar.

    Louis Watson then scored to make it 4-3 to KC.

    JC’s Tarick Ximines scored to make it 4-4 and take it to sudden death before KC’s Demario McCarthy scored for KC to make it 5-4.

    The match was decided when Jaheem Fraser’s penalty was saved by KC goalkeeper David Martin.

    KC secured their 16th hold on the Manning Cup and a date with daCosta Cup champions Garvey Maceo in the Olivier Shield.

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