A pair of headers from Mauro Icardi gave Inter the 2-0 victory over Atalanta and recaptured second place from Juventus.
Both sides went into the break for international duty with 1-1 draws and were eager to get back on track. The Nerazzurri would leapfrog into second with a win, as Juventus lost 3-2 to Sampdoria this afternoon, and made a change after five consecutive games with the same XI, as Davide Santon replaced Yuto Nagatomo for his first start of the season. Gian Piero Gasperini made the trip without Mattia Caldara, Leonardo Spinazzola or suspended Remo Freuler, so Papu Gomez was picked as an unusual centre-forward.
Last season, Inter ran out 7-1 winners in this fixture, which was Atalanta’s third consecutive defeat here. The last stalemate was in March 2012, followed by two Orobici victories and three losses.
Milan Skriniar made a decisive block on Papu Gomez, but the first real chance was on 16 minutes when Josip Ilicic nutmegged Joao Miranda with his through ball to send Hans Hateboer clear, but Samir Handanovic got down quickly for a one-handed save.
Mauro Icardi did everything right except the finish, as he sprung the offside trap on a Borja Valero back-heel flick, shrugged off a defender and created space when sprinting forward only to fire too close to Etrit Berisha.
Moments later, Icardi couldn’t quite get enough of his head to the Antonio Candreva cross from point-blank range.
Icardi failed to reach another Candreva cross and this time went down claiming he was held back by Rafael Toloi, but the striker appeared to go down very easily and the VAR officials waved play on.
After the restart, Icardi’s header was smothered by Berisha on an Ivan Perisic cross, but the deadlock was broken when Bryan Cristante lost Icardi on a Candreva free kick that was practically a short corner, allowing the Argentine a free header.
Toloi made a crucial sliding tackle to stop Icardi going clear on a Borja Valero through ball, but at the other end Papu Gomez ballooned over from 16 yards on an Andrea Petagna assist.
Icardi doubled both his tally and Inter’s lead moments later, sneaking up on defenders for a crouching, glancing header into the far bottom corner on Danilo D’Ambrosio’s cross from the right.
Handanovic rushed off his line to push the ball off the feet of Petagna and Maarten De Roon blasted over from the D, but Atalanta struggled to otherwise cause real problems.
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