Empoli 0-2 Inter: Nerazzurri back to winning ways in Serie A
After suffering a late heartbreak against Juventus in derby d’Italia, Danilo D’Ambrosio and Federico Dimarco were on target as Inter returned to winning ways in the Serie A with a 2-0 victory over 10-man Empoli on Wednesday.
Simone Inzaghi’s side had struggled in Serie A in recent weeks, losing to Lazio and drawing with Juventus before this trip to Empoli.
However, D’Ambrosio broke the deadlock in the first half, scoring in a seventh consecutive top-flight campaign, and Samuele Ricci’s dismissal for a reckless challenge after the break eased Inter’s task. Dimarco capitalized to take Inter two to the good and secure all the three points and consolidate Nerazzurri’s third-place position.
Petar Stojanovic’s speculative long-range effort had brought the first save of the contest from Samir Handanovic before Dimarco tried his luck from a similar distance and was denied by Guglielmo Vicario.
The Empoli goalkeeper was powerless 11 minutes before the break when D’Ambrosio headed into the bottom-left corner following Alexis Sanchez’s dinked pass.
Midfielder Nicolo Barella almost doubled Inter’s lead on the stroke of half-time but blasted against the woodwork, before Ricci received a straight red card for a dangerous sliding challenge on the Italian midfielder after the interval.
Roberto Gagliardini then headed onto the left-hand post and Martinez was denied by a wonderful Vicario stop, either side of Sanchez’s close-range finish being chalked off for offside.
Dimarco eventually added a second with 24 minutes of play remaining, tapping in Martinez’s low cross at the back post, although the visitors could have won by more, with two more goals ruled out. Gagliardini was penalized for handball and Stefano Sensi was flagged in the closing stages.
This was a return to winning ways for Inter, although they often deliver against Empoli, who they have now kept an away clean sheet against in their past seven league meetings – their longest run against a single opponent in the competition and tied for the best streak for any one side against another.
Inter have also won eight in a row in the league against Empoli – the hosts’ joint-worst run against a single team.
Inzaghi’s men, who are seven points off the summit, will hope to be similarly comfortable going forward against more testing opponents, having disappointed against Lazio and Juventus.
Inter’s attackers may take the credit for an efficient away performance, but Alessandro Bastoni was key in a defense that has looked timid in recent weeks. The center-back made a game-high 73 successful passes, succeeded in six of his eight duels, and produced a team-leading six clearances.
Patrick Cutrone scored his first Serie A goal since July 2020 with a strike against Salernitana but was disappointed against Inter’s three-man defense, now without a goal or an assist in seven meetings with the Nerazzurri.
The former Milan striker completed just two passes before his 67th-minute removal, enduring a frustrating in which he was afforded only nine touches while winning a meager third of his duels.
Both teams will be back in action on the weekend. Inter host Udinese on Sunday at San Siro, while Empoli travels to face Sassuolo on the same day.