Inter 2 Chievo 0: Politano, Perisic lift Nerazzurri up to third

By Sports Desk May 13, 2019

Inter ended a three-match winless run to take a big step towards Champions League qualification with a 2-0 win over Chievo in Serie A.

Already-relegated Chievo had not beaten Inter at San Siro in 15 attempts heading into Monday's encounter, and they never looked likely to end that streak once Matteo Politano scored in the 39th minute.

Politano's effort was just reward for a dominant performance from Luciano Spalletti's side, though their fans were frustrated by wasteful finishing from Ivan Perisic and some fine saves from Adrian Semper.

Chievo's slim hopes of a comeback were ended after Nicola Rigoni saw red late on, though, and Perisic made sure of the victory with four minutes to go as Inter moved back above Atalanta into third place.

Inter had no problem in asserting their authority, with both Perisic and Milan Skriniar passing up presentable chances in the opening stages.

Perisic went close again in the 28th minute – his shot from a tight angle well saved by Semper.

But Inter's siege on Chievo's goal finally paid off six minutes before half-time when Politano sent a precise finish in off the inside of the right-hand post.

Emanuel Vignato almost restored parity after the restart, though Chievo would have been further behind had Semper not pulled off a fine save to deny Politano a second before reacting sharply to keep out Perisic's follow-up try.

Semper was beaten after the hour, but Perisic's low strike clipped off the upright and fell kindly for the keeper.

Rigoni's rash challenge on Roberto Gagliardini saw him receive a second yellow card soon after and Inter made their numerical advantage count when Perisic finally found the net after Cedric Soares had hit the woodwork.

 

What does it mean? Inter closing in on Champions League qualification

Two games remain of the Serie A season and, as it stands, Inter are in pole position to secure a place in Europe's elite club competition.

The Nerazzurri sit third, one point above Atalanta and four better off than their city rivals AC Milan. One more win would be enough to guarantee a top-four finish.

Politano makes up for Perisic's profligacy

It would be harsh to say Perisic had a poor game, given he was involved in most of Inter's play but, until his late finish, the Croatia winger lacked his usual composure in front of goal.

Fortunately, his opposite winger Politano had no such issue, and he had already set Inter well on their way to a win when Perisic finally found his shooting boots.

Icardi a shadow of his former self

Inter striker Mauro Icardi has scored just once in Serie A since returning to the first-team fold, and he was largely anonymous on Monday against a defence that has conceded over 70 goals this season. Icardi then received a mixed reaction from the San Siro faithful when he was taken off in the 79th minute.

Given his form, perhaps Icardi's loss – if indeed he is to leave in the close season – would not be such a blow to Inter after all.

What's next?

Inter face a tough trip to Napoli in their penultimate Serie A outing, while Chievo face Sampdoria. Both of those fixtures take place on Sunday.

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    Eduardo Vargas scored a second-half brace to go with goals from Erick Pulgar and Alexis Sanchez as the two-time defending champions claimed a comfortable win in Group C.

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    Kubo curled a free-kick over in the seventh minute, before Naomichi Ueda headed a corner straight at Chile goalkeeper Gabriel Arias soon after.

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    They would be rewarded for their period of dominance with the opener, Pulgar heading in a Charles Aranguiz corner in the 41st minute.

    Japan almost responded immediately, but Ayase Ueda scuffed a shot wide from an angle after rounding Arias, while Sanchez headed a cross straight at Keisuke Osako at the other end on the stroke of half-time.

    Chile doubled their lead nine minutes into the second half through Vargas, whose strike from the edge of the area took a deflection and went in after a Mauricio Isla cutback for his 37th international goal.

    Again, Ayase Ueda squandered a chance to respond, firing wide at the back post after a cross from Gaku Shibasaki.

    Kubo also had an opportunity after the hour-mark, bursting into the box before shooting into the side-netting from a slight angle as Japan looked for a way back into the game.

    Instead, Chile sealed their win in the closing stages through goals from Sanchez and Vargas.

    Sanchez headed in a cross from Aranguiz before playing in Vargas, who lobbed Osako after the goalkeeper's rash decision to rush out.

     

    What does it mean? Winning start but work to do for Chile

    Taking three points was the key for Reinaldo Rueda's men, but there is plenty of room for improvement. They started the encounter scrappily before building into it, which they will hope is a sign of things to come.

    Vargas goes past Salas

    Vargas has consistently delivered for Chile and his goals were his 37th and 38th at international level. He went past Marcelo Salas and into second on the nation's goalscoring list, moving within four of Sanchez (42).

    Kubo shows glimpses for Japan

    Most of Japan's good moments came thanks to Kubo, who signed a six-year deal with Madrid last week. He almost set up Ayase Ueda after a nutmeg down the left in the first half and his excellent touch and left foot showed why he has been described as the 'Japanese Lionel Messi', although he squandered a good chance in the second half.

    What's next?

    Chile's campaign continues against Ecuador on Friday, while Japan take on Uruguay on Thursday.

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