Ivan Perisic’s brace overturned Udinese for a 2-1 victory at the Dacia Arena, giving Inter their fourth consecutive Serie A win.
Both sides ended 2016 in fine form under new Coaches and were eager to ensure the momentum hadn’t seeped away during the winter break. The Friulani had 10 points from their last four games, while the Nerazzurri won three on the trot with clean sheets.
The last time this fixture ended in a stalemate was the goalless draw in January 2008, followed by seven away wins and two for the hosts.
Jakub Jankto failed to make the most of a terrible Samir Handanovic clearance in the opening minute, but the goalkeeper redeemed himself with a fingertip save to turn Seko Fofana’s scorcher out from under the bar.
The Friulani took the lead with a well-worked goal, as Samir surged through the middle and spread the play beautifully for Jankto, who had been finding space regularly down the left, and curled into the far top corner past the on-rushing Handanovic. It ended a run of three consecutive clean sheets.
Moments later it was almost 2-0, as Duvan Zapata again got down the left and pulled back from the by-line for Rodrigo De Paul, who thumped the base of the near post from close range.
Jankto also skipped past Jeison Murillo with an angled drive that skimmed the far upright. Inter finally had a decent chance on 35 minutes when Ivan Perisic put it in the back of the net, but the Croatian was flagged offside.
Orestis Karnezis was at full stretch to fingertip away an Antonio Candreva cross-shot, as did Handanovic on De Paul, while Silvan Widmer turned a corner over from close range.
With the last kick of the first half, Inter grabbed an equaliser. Mauro Icardi had been entirely absent until the moment he dribbled past a defender down the left and rolled across for Perisic to sweep between Karnezis and near post from 12 yards. It was Icardi’s sixth assist of the season.
Straight after the restart Candreva’s cross found Ever Banega unmarked at the back stick, but the Argentine volleyed wide. Duvan Zapata then couldn’t steer in his header from a yard on a corner and hit the side-netting on the counter.
Inter took more and more control, but Udinese sat deeper to defend well, as Perisic’s free kick whistled wide. With seven minutes left, Karnezis only pushed a Candreva cross into the path of Joao Mario, but Silvan Widmer threw himself in the way for a desperate goal-line clearance.
It was Perisic who completed his brace to turn the game around completely, hanging in the air to nod in a Joao Mario free kick at the back post.
Udinese had penalty appeals with Jankto deep into stoppages and Danilo turned a bicycle-kick over the bar.