Inter’s hopes of catching Lazio for a Champions League spot are in tatters after a shock 2-1 home defeat to Sassuolo.
The Nerazzurri were two points behind Lazio ahead of next week’s fourth place showdown at the Olimpico and needed a victory, preferably with many goals, to be in the best position for that head-to-head. Matias Vecino and Danilo D’Ambrosio returned from suspension, but Roberto Gagliardini and Joao Miranda were not risked, so Andrea Ranocchia again started in defence. The Neroverdi had already secured their Serie A safety with three 1-0 wins in the last four rounds, but missed Edoardo Goldaniga, Pol Lirola and banned Federico Peluso.
Sassuolo have now won their last three trips to San Siro and have a better overall record against Inter in Serie A, winning six and losing four, home and away.
Alfred Duncan wasted a promising counter-attack by blasting wide. Inter had more possession, but very few actual chances, and Sassuolo took a surprise lead.
Matteo Politano scored with the cheekiest of free kicks, as he waited for the wall to jump and rolled it under their feet into the near bottom corner.
Andrea Consigli flew to palm away a Marcelo Brozovic scorcher from distance, while Samir Handanovic denied Domenico Berardi when the offside trap failed.
Consigli also denied Rafinha from distance and fingertipped an Antonio Candreva effort round the base of the near post. Luciano Spalletti called for his team to go three at the back, but they struggled to understand the move.
Icardi did have the ball in the back of the net after his control, spin and strike on a Joao Cancelo through ball, but was correctly flagged offside.
Moments later, Ivan Perisic rolled across the face of goal for Icardi, who seemed destined to score unmarked from eight yards, but Consigli made a remarkable reaction save.
After the restart, Claud Adjapong made a decisive block as Candreva was pulling the trigger from close range and on the counter Berardi’s finish was fingertipped round the base of the near post.
Handanovic beat away an Alfred Duncan snapshot, which bounced off Berardi seemingly unaware of it. At the other end, Rafinha’s effort was kept out by Consigli’s leg and the goalkeeper managed a truly bizarre save on 70 minutes.
Perisic chested down the long ball, Adjapong managed to block it off and it fell into the path of Icardi, whose shot was squirming under Consigli until he stopped its progress with his buttock.
Moments later, Sassuolo doubled their lead, as Berardi ran forward, cut inside past Milan Skriniar and blasted in the right-foot finish from the edge of the box to almost break the net.
Inter got themselves back into the game 10 minutes from time, as Rafinha’s left-foot snooker shot from the edge of the penalty area bounced in off the inside of the far post.
The Nerazzurri poured forward and Icardi had a double chance, the first desperately charged down from point-blank range by Mauricio Lemos, then his header wide.
Eder burst into the box only for Francesco Acerbi to make a last-ditch block and Simone Missiroli curled over on the counter.
Consigli maintained his Man of the Match performance to the end of six minutes of stoppages with a sensational save from close range on Eder, while Brozovic blasted over from 12 yards.
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