Mauro Icardi netted a sensational hat trick and Daniel Osvaldo bagged a brace to give Inter their first win of the season. However, the Inter players will share the headlines with Sassuolo's Domenico Berardi, whose dark side reared its ugly head once again.
The result had a dash of deja vu to it, taking into account Inter's 7-0 victory away at Sassuolo last season. Visiting coach Eusebio Di Francesco insisted the drubbing was "educational," but Inter taught theNeroverdi another harsh lesson with a ruthless display.
Inter coach Walter Mazzarri was sporting a cast on his wrist following a slip in the dugout during a training session yesterday evening. Marco Andreolli came in for the suspended Nemanja Vidic, while Andrea Consigli had a debut he won't want to remember in the Sassuolo goal.
It took just four minutes for the Nerazzurri to hit the front. Mateo Kovacic burst clear with a driving run and played in Icardi. Consigli blocked an initial effort, but the Argentine poked the ball home at the third attempt.
Sassuolo showed a brief period of resistance. Samir Handanovic was rooted to the spot as Francesco Magnanelli fired over and Sime Vrsaljko rolled wide from a low cross. A recurrence of a knee injury meant Vrsaljko's afternoon ended early. Marcello Gazzola's introduction meant the entire Sassuolo eleven on the field of play was made up of Italian players.
Kovacic scored his first Serie A goal on 21 minutes. The Croatian midfielder was the beneficiary from a slick Inter counter attack. Osvaldo met Icardi's clever flick and Kovacic coolly slotted the ball into the net. Icardi curled in a beautiful third from the edge of the box on the half hour mark. Consigli knew where the ball was going, but couldn't get his hand to the ball which nestled into the bottom corner.
Sassuolo simply couldn't cope with Kovacic's lightning pace. Accelerating from his markers with ease, a wonderful solo run was only just stopped in the penalty box. Simone Zaza had been Italy's star man during the international break, yet toiled up front for the most part. He cleverly picked out Gazzola who caught Juan Jesus napping, but the chance came to nothing.
Inter found a fourth goal two minutes before the break. Dodo burst clear down the left flank, Consigli ran out to block and the rebound fell kindly to Dodo, who teed the ball up for Osvaldo to blast in from close range. As promised during pre-season interviews, Osvaldo paid homage to idol Gabriel Batistuta with a patented machine gun style goal celebration.
Saphir Taider came on to face his former club after cutting short a season long loan at Southampton, although the hosts didn't relent in the second half. Icardi ensured he took home the match ball seven minutes after the restart, when he latched onto Kovacic's beautifully weighted past and smashed the ball into the net on the turn.
Much of Sassuolo's success was down to Berardi's 16 goals last season. The 20-year-old was a prodigious talent albeit with a tendency to snap. After being largely anonymous for much of the afternoon, Berardi elbowed Juan Jesus in full view of the referee who swiftly showed the forward a straight red card. Berardi did the exact same thing to Parma's Cristian Molinaro last season and a lengthy ban now looks likely.
Fredy Guarin came on for the home side after mending his relationship with the club and the fans. The Colombian was the subject of a much talked about January transfer to Juventus which didn't happen and he has now pledged himself to the Inter cause. The substitute unselfishly rolled the ball across the box to gift Osvaldo with an easy tap in. Less than a minute later, Osvaldo repaid the favour by picking out his teammate. With Icardi drawing the defenders away, Guarin lifted the ball past a despairing Consigli.
Inter Milan: Handanovic; Andreolli, Ranocchia, Juan Jesus; Nagatomo, (Mbaye 62) Hernanes,Medel, Kovacic, (Guarin 65) Dodò; (Palacio 76) Osvaldo, Icardi
Goals: Icardi 4, 30, 53 Kovacic 22, Osvaldo 43, 73 Guarin 74
Sassuolo: Consigli; Vrsaljko, (Gazzola 18) Terranova, Ariaudo, Peluso; Biondini, Magnanelli, Missiroli; (Taider 46) Berardi, Zaza, (Pavoletti 66) Sansone
Sent off: Berardi 60