With just two points from their last three outings, Inter Milan were in desperate need of a win at the San Siro on Saturday evening. But they faced a tricky opponent, with upstart Hellas Verona actually sitting above them in the table. The visitors were able to take advantage of Inter's defensive weaknesses, but the nerazzurri punished them more, with the Hellas defense falling to pieces. With three of Inter's four goals coming from set pieces, it's likely we know what drills Andrea Mandorlini will run in training before Verona faces Sampdoria midweek.
Right from the start, Walter Mazzarri had his side attacking, pressing high and forcing Verona to defend deep. The pressure paid off before ten minutes had passed. Alessandro Agostini, under pressure from Ricardo Alvarez and Yuto Nagatomo, conceded a corner. Jonathan got on the end of the Alvarez strike, but his volley took a deflection off Vangelis Moras and wound up in the back of the net.
It took just three minutes for Inter to score another, again from a poorly defended Verona corner. Juan Jesus won the aerial duel and the ball went to Fredy Guarin, whose shot was cleared off the line by Fabrizio Cacciatore. Rodrigo Palacio grabbed the rebound and Inter were up by two.
Down by two after just twelve minutes, it would've been easy for Verona to give up, but instead they picked up the tempo, and it was the visitors that claimed the next goal. Palacio had a goal ruled out for offside, and the resulting free kick set up the Hellas goal. Luca Toni did what he does best, winning the battle to reach the long ball and setting free Raphael Martinho. One on one with Juan Pablo Carrizo, the goal was almost inevitable.
After the Verona goal, Mazzarri's team seemed a little confused, but shook it off quickly, responding in the 38th minute. Nagatomo dribbled past two players but could only manage to hit the post. Palacio with the instinct of a great striker, was in the right place in the right time, but passed the ball to Esteban Cambiasso rather than take it himself. Unmarked, Cambiasso easily put in Inter's third. The veronesi claimed offside, but the replay showed that Agostini kept the Argentine on.
The second half picked up where they'd left off, with Inter continuing their high intensity game, pressing the gialloblu and wanting to kill the game off as soon as possible. Fortunately for the hosts, Verona continued to be terrible at defending corners. Again, it took Inter only nine minutes to score -- from a corner. Rafael was able to block the shot from Palacio, but Rolando caught the rebound for an easy tap-in.
Despite their advantage, the nerazzurri continued to play as if no goals had been scored. Inter pressed, ran around like crazy and created more chances. Verona were more patient, waiting to take advantage of any weakening in the Inter game. Juan Iturbe forced a save from Carrizo before Toni's header nearly grazed the bar. With twenty minutes remaining, Verona grabbed their second and, once more, it was the legendary Luca Toni with the assist. He protected the ball well in the penalty area before serving it to Romulo, who put his shot into the bottom right corner.
Verona dominated the rest of the game, but never found a way to break through again. Mandorlini introduced two more attackers, Daniele Cacia and Juanito Gomez. However, the attackers were unable create many clear chances, despite Inter looking increasingly tired.
Tensions boiled over after the final whistle, with both Moras and Ishak Belfodil receiving red cards for an off the ball tussle.
Inter: Carrizo; Rolando, Ranocchia, Jesus; Jonathan, Guarin, Cambiasso (Kuzmanovic), Kovacic (Taider 79'), Nagatomo; Alvarez; Palacio (Belfodil 65')
Goals: Vangelis Moras(og) 9', Rodrigo Palacio 12', Esteban Cambiasso 38', Rolando 56'
Verona: Rafael; Cacciatore (Gomez 83'), Moras, Maietta, Agostini (Cacia 73'); Romulo, Donati (Donadel 55'), Jorginho; Iturbe, Toni, Martinho
Goals: Raphael Martinho 33', Romulo 71'