Mauro Icardi’s brace – with a deflection on the first – allowed Inter to scrape a 2-1 victory, but SPAL will rue a missed penalty.
The Nerazzurri were seeking a sixth straight win between Serie A and the Champions League, but missed Marcelo Brozovic, resting Stefan de Vrij, so Borja Valero, Keita Balde Diao and returning Sime Vrsaljko stepped in. SPAL had such a strong start to the season, but had lost three on the bounce, with Jasmin Kurtic, Federico Viviani and Lorenzo Simic injured.
Inter broke through after 14 minutes when Mauro Icardi crouched to nod on a Vrsaljko cross at the near post, but it took a decisive deflection off Johan Djourou’s hand to wrong-foot Alfred Gomis. If it hadn’t gone in, that would’ve been a penalty for Inter.
SPAL reacted furiously and poured forward in waves, as Samir Handanovic got down for a fingertip save as Andrea Petagna flicked on Manuel Lazzari’s cross, then Joao Miranda tripped Dias Felipe in the box for a spot-kick. However, Mirco Antenucci stepped up and scuffed the penalty wide of the near post.
Another dangerous Lazzari cross found Simone Missiroli, his finish deflected over by Milan Skriniar. Keita Balde Diao caught Thiago Cionek in possession and sprinted into the box, but his body language made it clear he would roll it across for Icardi, allowing Gomis to stand his ground and intercept.
SPAL had more penalty appeals for a Matias Vecino handling offence, but the referee decided not to view it on the VAR monitor.
Thiago Cionek made a crucial interception as the corner was flicked on by Vecino for Icardi at the far post. It remained wide open, as Handanovic parried from point-blank range on Dias Felipe from a corner and then flew to push a Mattia Valoti curler over the bar.
The hosts did not slow the fast and furious tempo after the restart, Antenucci just failing to get his head to a Lazzari cross, but above all Andrea Petagna blasting over from six yards after a corner wasn’t cleared.
Lazzari was running riot down the SPAL right and cut inside for a ferocious strike that skimmed the bar, but the siege finally paid off with a fully-deserved equaliser.
The Mohamed Fares cross from the left took two deflections on the way and substitute Alberto Paloschi reacted much quicker than Miranda to tap in at the back post.
Luciano Spalletti introduced Lautaro Martinez, moving Vecino into a more advanced role, and within 60 seconds it paid off. Ivan Perisic’s through ball released Icardi with his teammates finally spreading the SPAL defenders, the striker turned on a sixpence and stroked the finish into the far bottom corner.
It remained wide open and frantic, Vrsaljko throwing himself in the path of a Fares finish and Gomis with a one-handed save to push Perisic’s strike over. Matteo Politano also wasted a stoppage-time counter, hesitating rather than passing to Lautaro Martinez.
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Missed penalty: Antenucci 18 (S)