Saturday February 24 2018
Spalletti: 'Inter played with heart'

Luciano Spalletti insists Inter “deserved the victory over Benevento, albeit with a struggle” and saw his team play “with heart.”

The Nerazzurri were outplayed for long periods by the bottom club and Le Streghe had penalty appeals for Andrea Ranocchia’s challenge on Danilo Cataldi when it was still goalless.

“I saw a different shot of the penalty incident where Cataldi flicked the ball and stretched his leg out to make contact,” the Coach told Mediaset Premium after a 2-0 result.

“Ranocchia doesn’t go towards him as such, he puts his leg there to avoid the nutmeg. He moved first and was already in position, so it’s not so clear to me.”

Soon after that incident, Milan Skriniar nodded in a corner, followed by Andrea Ranocchia meeting a free kick three minutes later.

“Clearly, at this moment we are not playing with much character or quality. It was obvious from the kick-off, as we passed it straight out of play. That showed how much pressure and tension is around the lads.

“After that, they made a lot of mistakes, but you could tell they played with heart. It’s difficult to focus with your head at times like this, but the heart can find a way.

“We pressed if anything too much. Benevento pass the ball around well, have a smart Coach and quality in the side. The problem is when you get the ball back, try not to give it away again. A side like Benevento who pass it so well will inevitably struggle to get the ball back, but we made it too easy for them.

“They created a few issues for us between the lines with Massimo Coda or going through the middle.

“We got a few passes wrong, became irritable. We could’ve created better playing out of the back, but in the second half we played more like a team and with greater quality. If you face issues as a team, the way we did in the second half, it all becomes easier. We weren’t as stretched out, we passed it better and made them work to get the ball back.

“I think we deserved the victory, albeit with a struggle, but it was deserved.”

Rafinha received his first start in an Inter jersey since the January move from Barcelona.

“I am very satisfied with Rafinha, as I didn’t expect him to do that well for that length of time. He kept asking to stay on for another five minutes, but he chased everything down and went into the tackle. He did great.”

Mauro Icardi was on the bench after several weeks out, but did not come on.

“Icardi had this adductor problem and he perhaps rushed his comeback, felt a twinge and had to scale back the training intensity. I could’ve risked him tonight, but we’ll have more time to get him ready over the next week.”

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