GENOA – Not every Sunday is perfect. The key ingredients of sun, sea, a pitch and a ball were all present, but all that was missing at the Ferraris was an Inter victory. Despite taking the lead twice, the Nerazzurri were pegged back by Sampdoria twice, with the contest ending 2-2 after back-to-back wins to kick off the league season.
Federico Dimarco scored a marvellous maiden goal for Inter from a free kick, while Lautaro Martinez volley the visitors back in front just before the interval. A battling Samp had other ideas, however,and earned a draw in the first game after the international break, while a Champions League clash with Real Madrid awaits the Italian champions in midweek.
The summer sun heated up the Marassi pitch for a real scorcher in the 12:30 kick-off, so much so that water breaks were required in each half.
The busy international break didn’t affect Simone Inzaghi’s plans too much, as the team lined up in a 3-5-2 formation, with Edin Dzeko and Lautaro up front, after the Argentine returned from South America on Friday. With Alessandro Bastoni ruled out through injury, Dimarco slotted in on the left of the defence.
Sampdoria’s classic 4-4-2 system suggested they were set up to play down the wings and use overlaps to whip crosses in, which is just how they forged the first chance of the day, when Tommaso Augello’s ball into the middle was headed over by Morten Thorsby from close range.
The hosts started well, but Inter quickly grew into the contest before taking the lead in the 18th minute when Dimarco notched his first goal for the club. The academy product’s rocket of a free kick nearly burst the net at a speed of 106km/h.
Roberto D’Aversa’s side did register a lucky equaliser soon after, however, when a bouncing ball from a corner fell to Maya Yoshida, whose left-footed strike trickled in via a deflection of Edin Dzeko, leaving Samir Handanovic flat-footed.
It was a reminder that the opposition would not go down without a fight, which Simone Inzaghi’s charges responded well to, especially an inspired Nicolo Barella, who picked up the ball in midfield, wrestled past two Samp players and picked out Lautaro, who steered a volley home to restore Inter’s lead just before the interval.
The start of the second half did not go to plan, as Samp’s full-backs combined to make it 2-2. Bartosz Bereszynski’s cross was emphatically volleyed home by Augello at the back post, leaving Handanovic helpless. Inter looked to respond and take the lead for a third time, with Ivan Perisic just failing to pick out Dzeko with the goal gaping before Lautaro was just beaten to the ball before unleashing a shot in the box. Finally, Hakan Calhanoglu’s low drive went just the wrong side of the post, which signalled the end of that period of pressure.
Inzaghi’s changes injected energy into the side later on, with Joaquin Correa and Denzel Dumfries looking dangerous immediately. Danilo D’Ambrosio, meanwhile, was tasked with making a crucial goal-line clearance to prevent Sampdoria from taking the lead late on.
Correa’s trickery didn’t quite manage to unlock the hosts’ defence, while Samp continued to swing in crosses from the right in a push for a winner, particularly after substitute Stefano Sensi suffered a knee injury after all five substitutions had been made and he was unable to continue.
There were yellow cards aplenty towards the end of a gritty contest, which contributed to seven minutes of stoppage time in which the visitors had to focus on ensuring they would leave Genoa with at least a point.
Sampdoria 2-2 Inter (HT 1-2)
SAMPDORIA (4-4-2): 1 Audero; 24 Bereszynski, 22 Yoshida, 15 Colley, 3 Augello (29 Murru 78); 87 Candreva, 5 Silva (9 Torregrossa 89), 2 Thorsby, 38 Damsgaard (8 Verre 78); 10 Caputo, 27 Quagliarella (16 Askildsen 67).
Subs not used: 33 Falcone, 4 Chabot, 11 Ciervo, 12 Depaoli,19 Dragusin, 20 Ihattaren, 25 A.Ferrari, 70 Trimboli.
Coach: Roberto D'Aversa.
INTER (3-5-2): 1 Handanovic; 37 Skriniar, 6 De Vrij, 32 Dimarco (2 Dumfries 68); 36 Darmian, 23 Barella, 77 Brozovic (22 Vidal 53), 20 Calhanoglu (12 Sensi 68), 14 Perisic (33 D'Ambrosio 53); 9 Dzeko, 10 Lautaro (19 Correa 62).
Subs: 21 Cordaz, 97 Radu, 5 Gagliardini, 7 Sanchez, 8 Vecino, 11 Kolarov, 13 Ranocchia.
Coach: Simone Inzaghi.
Referee: Daniele Orsato.
Assistants: Peretti, Pagliardini.
Fourth official: Baroni.
Assistant VAR: Giallatini.
Booked: Brozovic, Thorsby, Bereszynski, Colley, Silva, Dzeko, Correa, Vidal.
Stoppage time: 2+7.