The Nerazzurri had started their 2009-10 season in flying form, winning four matches in a row after the 1-1 home season opener against Bari. However, the fast start to the season started to fade quickly heading into October, as the team had lost 1-0 away at Sampdoria and also tied its first Champions’ League match against Ruben Kazan.
With aspirations of European glory and repeating as Scudetto champions, the focus quickly shifted to getting the form back on track as Udinese traveled to San Siro to take on Inter in round seven. The visitors were off to a decent start out the gates. Coming off a seventh-place finish in the season before, the expectations were high from the Zebrette.
However, after losing their lead goal scorer Fabio Quagliarella to Napoli, Udinese had not yet found the same form. After dropping points earlier on, the Friuli side started a winning streak on the back of Antonio Di Natale’s sparkling form. With a young Alexis Sanchez to partner the attack, Udinese was an exciting young team with lightning-fast counter-attack with a pin-point precision of Di Natale to finish off the counter-attacks.
Jose Mourinho fielded a 4-3-1-2 formation Inter attack, with Julio Cesar in goal and defense of Chivu, Zanetti, Lucio, and Samuel. Midfield trio of Muntari, Stankovic, and Cambiasso. Sneijder the majestic trequartista and the dynamic duo of El Principe Diego Milito and Samuel Eto’o to lead the front line.
The team was coming off a tough Champion’s League match at Ruben Kazan and there were bound to be some tired legs which the special one would have to manage as the game went on.
Pasquale Marino had Udinese lined up in a flat 4-4-2 formation with Alexis Sanchez and Antonio Di Natale leading the attack. Midfield quartet of Floro Flores, Pepe, Inler, D’Agostino. Present-day Inter goal-keeper, Samir Handanovic in goal and defensive line of Domizzi, Coda, Lukovic, and Basta.
Nerazzurri retained the majority of the possession right from the start. Being the home side, started the game with the high press to win the ball back and commit numbers forward. Udinese had the opportunity to play on the counter-attack however earlier on in the first half, opportunities were not easy to come by.
However, it was the home side that scored the opening goal of the match on a counterattack led by Samuel Eto’o with Milito and Stankovic on either side. Bringing the ball forward with his pace, catching Udinese midfield out of position and with just defense to beat, he played a well-timed ball into the box for Stankovic who smashed home the strike from the right edge of the box. A vintage Deki shot, struck with power and precision, leaving no chance for anyone to save.
Inter took the early lead, however, Udinese came right back into the match a few minutes later as Antonio Di Natale equalized for the visitors after Inler intercepted the ball in midfield and played a piercing through-ball to Di Natale who was kept onside by horrid positioning of Christian Chivu.
With only Julio Cesar to beat, he comfortably placed the ball in the back of the net at the twenty-seven-minute mark. Right before the equalizer, Mourinho was forced to make a substitution in attack as Milito hobbled off due to a thigh injury. He was replaced by the Italian enigma, Mario Balotelli. Before half-time, Sneijder strung together a serious of combination plays to open up the attack for Mario, but nothing came off it and the score remained 1-1 at half-time.
As the second half resumed, Udinese tried to mount an attack, playing out the back and launching long ball passes from defense straight to attack, to try and catch Inter defense off-guard, targeting Di Natale and Alexis Sanchez. Di Natale’s constant movement in and around the box constantly created issues for the defense.
The Udinese captain managed to carve Inter defenses with his exquisite movement and causing problems along with Sanchez. Both sides went back and forth with end-to-end action, creating chances on either end. Cesar and Handanovic both were up to the challenge to retain the score at 1-1.
Balotelli and Di Natale both getting one-on-one chances to give their sides a lead, failed to convert their chances. The game seemed destined to end at a 1-1 stalemate. In the dying minutes of the match, Balotelli was fouled by Udinese substitute defender Christian Zapata, clearly stepping on his foot inside the box, but the referee waved off a clear penalty appeal from the home side. In the dying seconds of the match, Balotelli was brought down inside the box once again by Zapata and yet again a clear penalty appeal waved off as referee asked to play on.
However, in the same sequence, the flying Dutchman Wesley Sneijder struck a low curled shot from the most impossible of angles to get the ball past diving Handanovic to give Inter a 2-1 at home. The win gave the team a tremendous morale boost and started another winning streak to put the side back on track for all it’s season’s goals.