Inter entered their match against Genoa in positive mood. Earlier in the week the Nerazzurri fell short of a deserved draw away against Napoli after putting in a valiant effort. On the other hand, the Grifone lost to Carpi at home 2-1 and went into the match in poor form. The main talk around the Inter camp was the starting 11. Mancini fielded a strong side, as Alex Telles started instead of the suspended Nagatomo, and Felipe Melo returned to the starting 11. Rodrigo Palacio, Adem Ljajic, Stevan Jovetic, and Jonathan Biabiany were given the responsibility to score against a struggling Genoa. It was the second time this season in which Mancini stared the team in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Genoa were without the Leandro Pavoletti due to suspension. Gianpiero Gasperini brought his team to the San Siro in search of points to get out of the relegation battle. Mancini’s side needed all three points to maintain their title challenge.
Inter started the match out in confident mood after their brave performance away in Naples. It only took the Nerazzurri two minutes to find an opening, as Palacio’s low cross was struck poorly by a free Melo inside the area. Inter kept possession very well and Genoa were pinned back for the entire first half. Medel and Miranda recovered every lost ball. The Nerazzurri pressed very well, and were up against a Genoa side that played eleven players behind the ball. There were times in which three to four players blockaded Ljajic down the wing. The midfield battle was very physical, highlighted by Genoa’s Rincon’s aggression. Alex Telles started the game well, but gave the ball away time and time again. The Brazilian lacked confidence at time, and was lucky the rest of his compatriots pressed to great effect. Inter began to pick up the pace towards the end of the first half. In the 42nd minute, Telles’s cross was met by Ljajic on the volley, but Perin made a save that even warranted an applause from the Inter fans. Ljajic continued to fool the Genoa defenders, and nearly put Inter ahead three minuted after his earlier chance. The Serb’s strike on the run went agonizingly close, and Inter and Genoa went into the break on level terms. Inter’s best players in the first half were Ljajic and Miranda. The former was Inter’s go to player in attack due to his trickery and flair. The latter was ever-present, and cut out every Genoa attack. Inter need a spark to get the three points.
Mancini was forced into making the first change of the patch, as Melo suffered a head injury and was replaced by Marcelo Brozovic. Inter started off slowly in the first half, but started to turn it up a notch after 10 minutes. Palacio’s cross met Jovetic in a great position, but the Montenegrin’s volley sailed over. A minute later, Adem Ljajic’s fantastic freekick from a crossing position evaded everyone including Mattia Perin to give Inter the lead. It was the Serb’s second goal in as many games. Following Inter’s breakthrough, Genoa had to open up and look to find an equalizer. Two minutes after the goal, Brozovic played Ljajic through on goal, but the linesman wrongly waved the Serb for offside, denying Inter of a certain goal. Perisic came on for Jovetic, who had a tough match against a side that was parking the bus. The Croation fed Ljajic at the edge of the area on 75 minutes, but the final product was aimed straight at Perin and the chance went begging. Genoa began to attack, but Inter easily dealt with Perotti’s driving runs and Pandev’s neat touches. In the 87th minute, D’Ambrosio picked up a second yellow card after a foul on Perotti. The ref’s decision was controversial to say the least, and left Inter with a man down for the remainder of the match. Inter closed off the match with ease and collected their 10th win of the season to go top of the table.
Inter earned a deserved victory against Genoa. The scoreline did not reflect the Nerazzurri’s dominance. Adem Ljajc was Inter’s star in attack. The former Roma man’s trickery fooled the Genoa defenders on every occasion. Biabiany’s pace and work-rate helped Inter on the wings. Handanovic did not have much to do all night, but when called upon, he delivered. Roberto Mancini made a brave decision to not play Mauro Icardi, but the tactical decision seemed to pay off. It will be interesting to see how the club captain will react to this. Overall, Inter got a great win, an Ljajic’s importance to this team has become massive.