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Home   /   Fiorentina 3-4 Inter: Mkhitaryan saves Inter among defensive woes

Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s stoppage-time winner saved his side from another questionable performance in a poorly managed game against Fiorentina. The Armenian scored his first Inter goal with 10 seconds left to play and Lautaro Martinez’s attacking prowess also helped make up for their notable struggles. 

Both Inter and Fiorentina were living delicate moments and just when it looked like difficulty might continue for both, lady luck was on Inter’s side. With seconds to go, Mkhitaryan was at the end of a poor clearance from Lorenzo Venuti. The ball bounced off the midfielder and caught Pietro Terracciano off guard. It was unexpected joy, as Luka Jovic’s previous 90th minute equaliser went close to breaking Inter’s hearts again and highlighted their ongoing defensive weaknesses, which still stand but might just go unnoticed. 

Had it finished 3-3, it would be talked about how Inter threw another game away. Three of their four defeats arrived after scoring first and the Nerazzurri have an expected outcome of 59 goals conceded for the season. Both Simone Inzaghi and Vincenzo Italiano have helped raise questions over their future, with neither team matching expectations, but Fiorentina would have been the happier of the two sides.

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In the last three seasons, Inter were title contenders, but things look different. The Nerazzurri now have the worst defensive away record and salvaged three of their six wins by scoring after the 89th minute. Whilst this has been a classic feature of Inzaghi’s sides, it shows they don’t enjoy the same competitive advantage. Under Inzaghi, they are transitioning to their old reputation of pazza (crazy), away from the clinical approach embraced under Antonio Conte’s two positive seasons. The Nerazzurri look unpredictable, rarely in control of a match, and give the impression that a result could go any way. Inzaghi after the game said: “We could have managed it better, but we became nervous after their goal and this is not good enough. We need to work on this.”

The game could have been a much easier process and it was Inter’s to lose, although the Artemio Franchi is a historically difficult ground to play on. But they were winning 2-0 within 15 minutes and Fiorentina’s only first-half shot on target was a converted, but fortuitous penalty: there really should have been no way back for Italiano’s side.

But Inter dropped their two-goal lead and were caught again, now having conceded 17 goals all campaign, with just five sides having done worse. This is their worst defensive record since 2011/12.

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Still fighting to keep his position after a difficult start, with just a win in the last 10 Serie A games, Italiano was brave enough to throw in the mix Luka Jovic and Jonathan Ikone. Both players were substitutes and both scored, but as much as Inter were weak defensively, they were strong going forward and there was no way to stop their attacking force. 

With Romelu Lukaku still out, the attack was in the hands of Martinez, who was unstoppable all night long. It was his smart pass that helped Inter move up, as Nicolo Barella found the back of the net for the third consecutive game. The Italian’s run from midfield wasn’t picked up, allowing him to be free in front of Terracciano and beat him with a low strike. At minute 15, Martinez picked up a second ball and ran one-against-one with Lucas Martinez Quarta. The striker disoriented his fellow countryman by cutting on his left foot and scored from the edge of the box. 

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It took another managerial intuition to turn the game around when an invisible Joaquin Correa was taken off for Edin Dzeko. The Bosnian’s through pass led to another penalty, with Terracciano stopping Martinez’s attempt to go around him. Martinez (73) powerfully hit the ball in the top-right corner and will enjoy a night at the top of the goalscoring charts, with six. After a goalless September, the Argentinian is now making sure that nobody in Milan misses Lukaku. 

The game proceeded at a slow tempo until drama in stoppage time when Jovic thought he had given his side a much-needed point in an all-Serbian combination with Aleksa Terzic and Nikola Milenkovic. It could have been just like four years earlier: a 3-3 with stoppage-time chaos. (Ironically, that was the last occasion Inter failed to win a Serie A game after leading by two goals). But Mkhitaryan saved the day and perhaps Inter’s reputation.

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It took another managerial intuition to turn the game around when an evanescent Joaquin Correa was taken off for Edin Dzeko. The Bosnian’s through ball led to another penalty, with Terracciano stopping Martinez’s attempt to go around him. Martinez (73) powerfully hit the ball in the top right corner and will enjoy a night at the top of the goalscoring charts, with six this season.  After a goalless month of September, the Argentinian is truly making sure that nobody in Milan misses Lukaku.

The game proceeded at a slow tempo until drama in stoppage time, when Jovic thought he had given his side a much-needed point in an all-Serbian combination with Aleksa Terzic and Nikola Milenkovic. It could have been just like four years earlier when it ended 3-3 with stoppage-time chaos. (Ironically, that was the last occasion Inter failed to win a Serie A game after leading by two goals). But Mkhitaryan saved the day and perhaps Inter’s reputation.

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The Nerazzurri returned in seventh place, back in front of Juventus, in what remains their worst start since 2016, with 21 points. They won three consecutive Serie A games for the first time, and this will give momentum to Inzaghi’s side. He hopes to fix their defensive struggles approaching a crucial Champions League game against Viktoria Plzen, where a win would see them through to the knockout stage. 

Fiorentina remained in 13th, with 10 points and two wins. Italiano’s place is at risk and his Fiorentina adventure might well be over if things don’t change going to the international break. La Viola will host Istanbul Basaksehir on Thursday as they try to take the lead of Conference League’s group A. 

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