Mauro Icardi eventually made the difference for Inter against Udinese with a cheeky ‘Panenka’ style penalty after Seko Fofana’s handball.
The Nerazzurri were smarting from their midweek Champions League exit, only drawing with PSV Eindhoven when a win would’ve eliminated Tottenham Hotspur. Matias Vecino and Radja Nainggolan still weren’t fully fit, but Ivan Perisic was dropped for Keita Balde Diao. Udinese missed Samir, Emmanuel Badu, Svante Ingelsson and Lukasz Teodorczyk.
Joao Mario’s snapshot was deflected over and from the resulting Matteo Politano corner, Mauro Icardi’s header skimmed the far post.
Seko Fofana intercepted a dangerous Joao Mario pull-back after inspired Sime Vrsaljko through ball, then Juan Musso stuck out a trailing foot to parry Kwado Asamoah’s deflected effort at the near stick.
Vrsaljko put an excellent cross in from the right and Icardi could only graze it with a left-foot volley. Keita Balde ran on to a Borja Valero through ball and saw his rising strike fingertipped over the bar by a flying Musso.
Udinese wasted a golden opportunity after the restart, as Fofana surged down the right and pulled back for unmarked Rolando Mandragora, who incredibly blasted over from 13 yards.
That was their first chance of the game, swiftly followed by another couple off target from Rodrigo De Paul and Ter Avest, all created by Fofana finding space down the right.
Substitute Lautaro Martinez signalled a more attacking approach from Inter and Musso was again alert to stop him nodding in at the near post.
Bram Nuytinck’s desperate sliding tackle was on the ball to stop Icardi in the box, while Keita’s cross found Maurito for a free header that he somehow turned wide from six yards.
VAR was used when Fofana jumped on a corner with his hand next to his head, an unwise idea at the best of times, and Inter were awarded a penalty. Despite the importance of breaking the deadlock and his earlier miss, Icardi showed ice cool nerves to convert with a cheeky ‘Panenka’ chip.
Both sides wasted promising chances in the final minutes, including a poor Ignacio Pussetto first touch with De Paul sending him clear on a ball over the top.
On 89 minutes, Icardi’s diving header turned a Lautaro Martinez cross into the net, but only after he had wandered offside. He had another opportunity to complete his brace, but the volley clipped the crossbar after Musso flapped at the Ivan Perisic cross.
Inter were still only 1-0 up and risked fumbling the lead in stoppages when Pussetto drilled wide.
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