Inter immediately responds to Juventus, defeats Udinese with a peremptory 4-0 and returns to the top of the table. A prompt response from Simone Inzaghi’s men was needed to the Bianconeri’s success against Napoli and so it was: thanks to a first half played at full speed by the Nerazzurri, convinced and effective in the offensive area, capable of closing the match within seven minutes before the break while Udinese couldn’t find ways to oppose. After various occasions, Calhanoglu’s goal from a penalty opened the game, closed immediately afterwards by goals from Dimarco and Thuram who transformed the second half into little more than a training session, concluded by Lautaro’s sixteenth goal of the season for the final 4-0 .
Yet another show of strength, which allows Inzaghi’s men to move back ahead of Juventus in the standings: the +2 over the Bianconeri has a relative value considering that we are still only in December, but more significant for Inter is undoubtedly the +9 over Milan and even the +14 on Napoli, the other teams considered potential rivals for the Scudetto. But it is also the performances that give confidence to the Nerazzurri world, also in light of the best attack in the championship (37 goals scored so far, 2.4 on average per game) and at the same time the best defense (7 goals conceded with an average of 0 .4 per game) also considering the 10 games without conceding a goal in the league so far. The protagonists are always the same, from Calhanoglu glacial from the spot to Thuram who responds present in the goal area when Lautaro takes a break, up to Dimarco who is increasingly decisive in the opponent’s frontline.
Against Udinese it was almost a one-sided match from the first minutes. In the cold of San Siro, in front of the usual 70,000 who fill the stands of the Meazza every three days, making the various sellouts a constant occurrence, Inzaghi’s Nerazzurri start very strong, immediately crushing Udinese in their own area, not even in their own half the field. The first opportunity arrives on the head of Lautaro, but the Argentine’s header from Dimarco’s cross hits the post with Silvestri beaten. The Friulians try to sting with Pereyra, a flash in the desert given the difficulties of Cioffi’s men in containing their opponents.
The match takes the Nerazzurri’s direction after a contact in the area between Perez and Lautaro, which referee Di Bello first glosses over and then, recalled by the VAR, decides for the penalty in favor of the home team amid protests from the Bianconeri: from the spot Calhanoglu displaces Silvestri and puts Inter ahead. Which doesn’t stop, because five minutes later the Turk serves Dimarco who doubles the score with a left-footed diagonal shot. Two more turns of the clock and Mkhitaryan finds a poisonous cross for Thuram, who finds the 3-0 from close range and definitively closes the match just before the break. In the second half the pace collapses because Udinese no longer believes in it and Inter slows down, also thinking about Tuesday’s Champions League match against Real Sociedad, which will be decisive for first place in the group. But Lautaro wants to leave his signature and arrives at the end, giving the Nerazzurri the poker.
Advantage and superiority are not enough for Lazio: they are equal with Verona
Atalanta plays as they know how and with a tenacious performance, compact, fierce, returns to win against Milan in Bergamo. The three points were thanks to a splendid back-heel goal from Muriel, in full injury time, but there was a lot of Gasperini’s choices in the Nerazzurri’s success.
Atalanta takes the lead twice, Milan cynically grabs it again, but in the final maxi recovery the hosts once again prevailed, also taking advantage of the numerical superiority caused by Calabria’s expulsion. An exciting final, in which everything happens, reversals and controversies but in the end Atalanta prevails which only an extraordinary Maignan had managed to partially limit. The Dea therefore finds the turning point hoped for by Gasperini, proving to be stronger than the injury emergency. Milan without Leao, preserved for the Champions League, does not achieve the continuity that would have allowed them to keep pace with the top teams in the standings. Now for the Rossoneri there is the very complicated match against Newcastle to attempt the European feat which would seem miraculous, while the Goddess hopes to have truly emerged from the difficulties.
There is some regret for Milan who managed to catch up with the home team both at the end of the first half and in the second half. He opens the ball with Lookman who takes out Theo Hernandez in the 38th minute and beats Maignan thanks to a deflection from Tomori. To rebalance the result, Giroud headed a Calabria corner, amid the protests of an Atalanta enraged by a foul by Musah against Lookman. In the first half, De Ketelaere’s mistake after ten minutes was sensational: the Belgian, a stone’s throw from the goal, served by the usual Lookman, inexplicably shot very high. The former Rossoneri initially struggled to get into the game, feeling the pressure of facing his former team. But in the second half he changed his attitude, thanks also to the change of position more towards the left, Gasperini’s first decisive choice.
But it was all of Atalanta who took a aggressive approach in the second half. First Pasalic’s shot, then Koopemeiners comes close to taking the lead but his shot is deflected. The goal is in the air and is favored by the feet of De Ketelaere who serves a low shot in the center to return for Lookman who makes no mistake. The Belgian, on the wings of enthusiasm, also tries personal action and comes close to scoring with a conclusion that grazes the post. Nerazzurri took the lead again and Milan were forced to recover once again. Pioli tries to change the balance and throws Jovic into the fray as second striker in place of Loftus Cheek. But it is still the Goddess who plays the game and only an extraordinary Maignan manages to keep Milan’s hopes alive: first by blocking Scalvini, then by denying Lookman the hat-trick. Too many errors in front of goal for Atalanta who pay dearly for them, because at the first defensive lapse Jovic finds the 2-2. But it’s in the big recovery that everything happens: Gasperini surprisingly recalls Lookman and De Ketelaere for Muriel and Miranchuk, Calabria is sent off for a double yellow card and the Goddess then looks for the coup. It was precisely from the two changes of the Nerazzurri coach that the 3-2 was made: a great assist from Miranchuk and a back-heel goal from Muriel who went past Maignan. A pearl worth the three points. Joy explodes in Bergamo and Milan, once again, comes out with their heads down.
Advantage and superiority are not enough for Lazio: it ends equal with Verona
Verona mocks Lazio and wins a point with just one shot towards the Capitoline goal. Sarri’s team dominates from a tactical point of view but wastes too much and probably takes Hellas lightly for putting so much heart into it. A quarter of an hour of studying and nothing cosmic then, at Lazio’s first real outburst, the match lights up with the Capitoline goal. The speedy action on the right lane between Lazzari and Felipe Anderson was beautiful with the Brazilian serving low to Zaccagni at the near post.
The ex invents an extraordinarily beautiful heel turn and effectiveness and Lazio puts the arrow. Verona, however, is there. The yellow-blue team has character and desire, the difficulties are in the attacking phase. The Venetians increase the pace of pressure, bring a few more balls towards Provedel but lack quality in the last play. Lazio would have more space to restart but Lazzari’s team also makes some mistakes, especially when he manages to skip the two midfielders in front of the home defense. Lazio came close to doubling their lead right at the end with a header from a corner by Gila with the ball just wide.
At the beginning of the second half Baroni switches to plan B. He removes a player of quantity and more attentive to the defensive phase like Serdar by inserting a player with more offensive characteristics like Lazovic. Verona, however, creates very little and never finishes towards Provedel, Lazio sits back, has a good opportunity with Felipe Anderson after an error by Tchatchoua but the Brazilian stifles the conclusion. Despite the changes, Henry and Hongla in, Djuric and Folorunsho out, Verona did not gain momentum. Then the episode turns Verona back on and off. A sort of cross shot from Ngonge puts Provedel in crisis who fires it short and poorly, Suslov tries to volley, misses the shot but offers the assist to Henry who chests it into the away goal for the equaliser.
Lazio finds the net again to take the lead again. Corner by Luis Alberto, cut by Casale, another great ex of the match and ball in the net. But Ayroldi rightly cancels it due to a push by the Lazio defender against Duda who a minute later is sent off for a second yellow card, again a correct decision. Tactical theme now evident. Verona with ten men and in the trenches and Lazio closing Hellas in their own half. Sarri’s team tries but never finds the decisive shot. And so it is the yellow-blue public who celebrate the unexpected point.