The temperature was under freezing however Alexis Sánchez stored shedding layers: first his match jersey after which his thermals, till he stood bare-chested underneath the Curva. It was as if he wished everybody at San Siro to see him, to know he was nonetheless right here, nonetheless in peak bodily situation, nonetheless, as he described himself in a post-game interview, “a monster”.
He had delivered the proof that Inter supporters actually wished moments earlier than, when he muscled previous Daniele Rugani on the sting of the Juventus six-yard field and swept the ball into the underside nook of their purpose. It was the deciding act of this 12 months’s Supercoppa, placing his staff 2-1 up within the 121st minute.
Right here was the primary trophy of Simone Inzaghi’s tenure as supervisor, affirmation of their standing as Italian soccer’s high canine regardless of the departure of Antonio Conte final summer time. They’d not lifted this trophy since 2010, the 12 months they gained the treble. To reclaim it in such dramatic vogue, with the most recent purpose ever scored on this fixture and towards the rival who dominated the last decade in between, might solely really feel even sweeter.
It had been a nervous night. Inter managed the tempo, ending with greater than 60% of the possession and 3 times as many photographs as their opponents. They performed with the authority of a staff that sits high of Serie A, boasting an 11-point benefit over Juventus in addition to a recreation in hand.
But in addition they conceded the primary purpose and, even after equalising, have been held in a stalemate for nearly 90 minutes. Juventus have been lacking a number of starters – from Wojciech Szczęsny to Leonardo Bonucci, Juan Cuadrado and Federico Chiesa – however defended from the entrance with Federico Bernardeschi and Weston McKennie on the flanks behind Álvaro Morata. Dejan Kulusevski was assigned to get underneath Marcelo Brozovic’s toes within the center.
It was McKennie who opened the scoring, changing Morata’s cross with a close-range header, however Juventus’s benefit was short-lived. Edin Dzeko bought in entrance of Mattia De Sciglio, and the defender went by way of his heel. Lautaro Martínez transformed the penalty.
Inter all the time appeared the likelier winners thereafter, however clear-cut probabilities have been few and much between. Denzel Dumfries noticed a header pushed on to the bar and Dzeko narrowly failed to apply a end to a cross from the identical participant, however that was about it. Then Inzaghi made a shocking selection, substituting the Bosnian ahead and Martínez collectively within the seventy fifth minute, sending on Sánchez and Joaquín Correa.
If Inter had failed to win, this is able to have been cited as their supervisor’s nice mistake. Dzeko has been integral to the staff’s model underneath Inzaghi, his hold-up play and calm redistribution permitting the Nerazzurri to adapt away from the fast-break soccer they performed underneath Conte to a extra possession-based method.
His withdrawal appeared to additional blunt an Inter assault that was already struggling to carve out openings; Sánchez despatched a header simply extensive from a nook initially of extra-time, however that was it. Juventus have been taking part in for penalties and as time ticked down, Bonucci stripped out of his tracksuit prepared to come on and take one.
However Sánchez scored earlier than the Juventus defender might make it to the pitch. A share of the credit score belonged to Matteo Darmian, who pounced to intercept after Federico Dimarco’s cross was chested awkwardly by Juventus’s Alex Sandro. The ball looped up over Giorgio Chiellini and Sánchez was on it in a flash, ending on the close to put up.
It was a purpose to vindicate a participant who feels he has been underused at Inter, beginning solely 4 Serie A video games this season. “That is how champions are,” he informed his Mediaset interviewer at full-time. “Champions do issues that others don’t. The extra that champions play, the higher they’re … I am like a lion in a cage, in the event that they let me play I am a monster.”
Time will inform whether or not this second might be a turning level. Sánchez’s contract runs to 2023, nevertheless it comprises a clause permitting the membership to purchase him out for round €4m this summer time. Earlier stories in Milan recommended that they have been strongly contemplating the choice. Extra objectives like this one could provoke a rethink.
Both approach, he has written his title into membership historical past. The Supercoppa won’t be an important piece of silverware that Inter have been aiming for this season nevertheless it was the primary piece obtainable. Claiming it was an necessary step for a staff that’s directly beginning a new cycle underneath Inzaghi and looking for to construct on what they achieved underneath Conte: proving that their first Scudetto in 11 years was no fluke.
It’s simple to neglect now, however few folks had them listed as favourites to win something in the summertime. The departures of Conte, Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi have been extensively perceived because the dismantling of a challenge. Massimiliano Allegri’s return to Juventus, in the meantime, was anticipated to restore the Bianconeri as frontrunners.
The Supercoppa confirmed what we’ve discovered since: that Inzaghi was an impressed appointment, able to not simply sustaining Inter however evolving them into one thing completely different. Solely a prisoner of the second might understand Dzeko as a stronger choice up entrance than Lukaku, Serie A’s second-highest scorer and help supplier final season, however the supervisor has tailored his staff to get the easiest out of the Bosnian in addition to others round him: Hakan Calhanoglu has thrived since arriving from Milan and at 32, Ivan Perisic seems the sharpest he has in years.
Larger assessments lie forward. Inzaghi gained the Supercoppa twice at Lazio, too, in addition to a Coppa Italia. Wednesday’s win made him the primary supervisor ever to beat Juventus in three finals, however he wouldn’t have walked away from his beloved Biancocelesti final summer time for something lower than the pursuit of a Serie A title.
Nonetheless, Wednesday’s recreation mattered. You possibly can see it in Sánchez’s celebration and the impotent fury of Bonucci, launching himself into a bodily confrontation with Inter’s staff secretary, Cristiano Mozzillo, on the touchline. You possibly can hear it in Inzaghi’s personal voice, cracking and failing in post-game interviews after a evening of an excessive amount of yelling.
“We wished this trophy,” he mentioned, reminding his interviewer of the 11-year hole since Inter final gained it. “That’s too lengthy,” he insisted, “for a staff with a lot potential.”