CESENA – Three points earned in a balanced game, and one that Inter faced with grit and determination. It was the same approach Nerazzurri fans had witnessed against Napoli, but this time a victory was achieved. Just as everyone had hoped for.
The very beginning of the match saw both teams sizing each other up before Garritano’s high shot broke the ice after three minutes. The Nerazzurri responded immediately when Obi sent a dangerous cross to Dodo on the left flank; Leali produced a fine save to deny the Brazilian, although Mazzoleni had whistled the play dead. Then at the other end an alert Dodo snuffed out an attack from Marilungo.
After some excellent individual play, Hernanes picked out Palacio. The Argentine striker found himself one-on-one with Leali before the Cesena keeper brought him down. There was no doubt for Mazzoleni: penalty. Icardi placed the ball on the spot before sending Agliardi the wrong way, putting Inter ahead 1-0 on 31 minutes. The hosts did not let their heads drop, however, and Cascione nearly found the equaliser with a volley that sailed just high. Just before the half-time whistle Palacio thought he had the Nerazzurri’s second, only to see the goal correctly disallowed for offside.
The second half began and fans saw a much more open game for both sides. Obi in particular was enjoying the space available to him; his cross reached Hernanes who then found Icardi, but the final shot was just off target. In the 50th minute Hernanes ran at De Feudis before seeing his right-footer go inches wide. Inter were ramping up the pressure in search of their second goal: first through Kovacic, who missed with a side-footed effort from Hernanes’ pass; then through Mbaye (subbed on for Obi), with an off-target attempt from distance.
Cesena recovered and then tried to react. Cascione forced Handanovic into a miracle save with his shot in what proved to be a decisive moment in the game. From distance, Hernanes again tested Agliardi who blocked the ball but could not hold it; Icardi swooped down on the rebound but shot well over the crossbar. Inter remained focused in defence, leaving a 10-man Cesena side exhausted. The game then ended 0-1 with the Nerazzurri claiming three valuable points and their thoughts now switching to their next opponent: Sampdoria.
Cesena 0-1 Inter (HT: 0-1)
Scorer: Icardi 32.
Cesena: 1 Leali; 25 Capelli, 14 Volta, 6 Lucchini, 33 Renzetti; 34 Cascione, 8 De Feudis, 5 Giorgi (Rodriguez 75); 61 Garritano (Agliardi 31); 18 Djuric (Hugo Almeida 64), 89 Marilungo.
Unused subs: 2 Nica, 3 Mazzotta, 7 Carbonero, 15 Krajnc, 17 Magnusson, 19 Succi, 24 Perico, 77 Ze Eduardo, 81 Bressan.
Coach: Pierpaolo Bisoli.
Inter: 1 Handanovic; 14 Campagnaro, 23 Ranocchia, 5 Juan Jesus; 20 Obi (Mbaye 69), 88 Hernanes, 18 Medel, 10 Kovacic, 22 Dodo; 8 Palacio, 9 Icardi.
Unused subs: 30 Carrizo, 46 Berni, 6 Andreolli, 15 Vidic, 17 Kuzmanovic, 28 Puscas, 29 Camara, 44 Krhin, 97 Bonazzoli.
Coach: Walter Mazzarri.
Referee: Paolo Silvio Mazzoleni (Bergamo).
Booked: Garritano 14, Giorgi 37, Campagnaro 53, Volta 61, Rodriguez 86, Cascione 89.
Sent off: Leali 31.
Added time: 2 + 3 minutes.