Inter’s 4-1 win over Bologna was very important for many reasons.
Napoli who are currently in second place had drawn earlier in the day. Would Inter take advantage and claw back some more points like they have done against all teams above them since the New Year?
Bologna was the same team that had frustrated Inter on the first day of the season drawing 0-0 at the Stadio Renato. Would Emiliano Viviano once again prove to be a thorn for his parent club?
The most important, for any Inter fan at least—the fact that this was the game in which Javier "Il Trattore" Zanetti would equal the record number of Serie A appearances set by Beppe Bergomi which is 519 for all the statisticians out there.
Inter rewarded Zanetti with possibly their best display of the season. While Bologna weren’t as bad as the one-sided score line suggests, Inter’s game has certainly been raised and it is close to matching that of the last campaign.
Inter began the game brightly and laid siege to the Bologna goal in the first 10 minutes with Milito hitting the upright—given the Argentine striker’s form and luck this season, shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. But he would have a chance to make up for the miss later in the game.
Samuel Eto’o was just too good for the Bologna defense. He was making darting runs from the left flank into the heart of the Bologna defense pretty much at will. An intelligent pass from him after a mistake by Bologna’s Mudingayi led to Stankovic’s sidefoot and Inter’s opener on 20 minutes. Although on replays it did seem as though, the Serbian was a few centimeter offside.
After the goal, Inter took the game by the scruff of its neck and Bologna were being completely outplayed.
Ten minutes after the opener, Milito found himself at the end of a well-threaded pass by Thiago Motta. The Argentine striker seemed to have put himself into a position making the shot on goal from too acute an angle, but a slight mistake from Viviano meant that Milito could atone for his earlier miss.
The rest of the half was played out with Inter dominating possession completely. The most heartening feature of the Inter’s play was their pressing game. The midfielders never gave Bologna’s players a chance to sit on the ball and this led to a lot of hurried passes by Bologna’s players.
A clear example of this was Di Vaio who when surrounded by three Inter players, just plumped a long ball back to his midfield which was gobbled up by the back-tracking Eto’o.
For all of Inter’s dominance in the first half, Bologna began the second half much the dominant side. Perhaps it was partly due to Inter letting the opposition have the ball a little more.
However, efforts from Di Vaio and the introduction of Giminez sparked Inter back to their first half selves as Castellazzi made a couple of fine saves.
However, Inter managed to score a third goal at the most crucial moment in the game, just as Bologna felt they might have a foot in the door.
Samuel Eto’o scored a wonderful goal in the 63rd minute. His goal was a classy finish after a backflick from Milito. The chance was created though, after some master-full dribbling by Eto’o himself down the left flank right into the heart of Bologna’s defense.
The fourth goal killed the game completely after a brilliant free kick by the unstoppable Samuel Eto’o in the 72nd minute. Though Bologna managed to pull one back late in the game through Giminez five minutes later, it was scant consolation.
Mariga replaced Motta late in the game as did Pandev for Eto’o who, as expected, got a standing ovation. The biggest cheer of all though was reserved for Inter’s living legend Javier Zanetti who came off in the 86th minute. In his next game, he will have the highest number of appearances for Inter in Serie A.
A quick not on Zanetti’s performance. He made numerous interceptions on Bologna’s counter attacks especially when Maicon was still upfield. The ease and elegance with which he manages this, is truly spectacular even at the grand age of 37.
Overall, a great performance by Inter and one that was reminiscent of last season’s team more so for the dynamism and energy as the tactics were not exactly similar to Mourinho. Eto’o plays a lot closer to Milito with Stankovic just behind the two.
Inter’s midfield is scoring a lot of goals and this is certainly helpful given the lack of goals from Milito and Sneijder.
The signs look good for Inter to launch a fight back in the title race and the longer Milan dismisses Inter’s threat, the better it would be for a resurgent Nerazzurri.