Sunday February 16 2020
Conte: 'Inter gifted Lazio goals'

Antonio Conte complained that Inter “gifted two goals to Lazio” in their 2-1 defeat and seemed “scared” after taking the lead, much like their losses at Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund.

Ashley Young had put the Nerazzurri in front on the stroke of half-time with his first goal for the club, but a Ciro Immobile penalty for Stefan de Vrij’s nudge on the Capocannoniere and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic strike turned the game around.

“I think it was a good performance, it’s the result I didn’t like and the way we conceded the two goals, as we gifted them to Lazio,” the coach told Sky Sport Italia.

“We were not impeccable, but inevitably in these big games, the details become decisive and the margin of error becomes reduced. It’s part of a growth process, there was some naivete and these lads must try to be more relaxed in these situations.

“We were too soft on the two goals. We had other situations this season where we had taken the lead and threw points away, for example also Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund, games we had in our grasp and ended up losing.

“As I said, this is a growth process and we have to go through it so that we can face every situation the right way. Straight after the restart, it was as if we were scared. That has to improve.

“The lads worked hard and I thank them for that. We are trying to irritate the teams at the top, it was a ‘head-to-head’ with Lazio and we ought to be proud to have been in this situation in the first place. At the same time, we must improve if we are to continue causing problems up there.”

This is only the second defeat Inter have suffered in Serie A this season, after the 2-1 at home to Juventus in October, but they now slide down to third place on 54 points, with Lazio on 56 and Juve 57.

“I thought it was a very balanced encounter, no side dominated the other. These were two teams with precise tactical identities, they faced off trying to win and play their game.

“It was decided by two goals that in my view were entirely avoidable.”

On the equaliser, an Immobile penalty, was there a lack of communication between goalkeeper Daniele Padelli and his defenders?

“I don’t want to get into the details, but we must be more calm and confident in those situations. Sometimes we get too frenetic, whereas we should keep cool heads, learning from the work we do during the week,” continued Conte.

“We have to grow in terms of character, because we were winning a head-to-head, came out for the second half and in my view were too timid in our passing. I don’t know why we seemed frightened, but after we went 2-1 down, we got back to playing the ball and attacking them.

“Perhaps subconsciously we tried to protect the result, whereas I maintain attack is the best form of defence. These are stepping stones, it’s a growth process, many of these lads are playing a style of football they are not accustomed to and I like to play out from the back.”

Conte was asked if Christian Eriksen could be used as a trequartista behind the strikers.

“I believe in every situation, you must find balance between defensive and attacking moves. We cannot think one player can change the fate of a squad, especially as we got this far without Eriksen.

“We need to stay calm, allow the new players to settle in properly, keep working and not think this or that player can transform everything.”