Inter maintained their 100% winning start to the new season, beating Sampdoria 3-1 at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris on Saturday evening, despite playing an entire half with ten men.
Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring with his first goal for his new club after 20 minutes, deflecting Stefano Sensi's wayward shot beyond Emil Audero. Sanchez doubled his tally four minutes later, poking home another Sensi effort.
However, the Chilean star then saw red, diving in the penalty area and earning a second yellow card, and Jakub Jankto pulled one back to breathe life back into the hosts. Roberto Gagliardini restored Inter's two-goal advantage five minutes later, and the away side held on to claim the three points.
Key Talking Point
You wouldn't believe it from Sampdoria's shocking start to the season, but in Fabio Quagliarella, Eusebio Di Francesco possesses last season's Serie A top scorer. Quagliarella was lethal during the 2018/19 campaign, and bagged 26 goals in 37 matches.
This season, the Italian striker looks a shadow of his former self. Di Francesco has brought a very different style of play to Sampdoria, and his star forward seems unsuited to the intense pressing system that the ex-Roma coach demands. I Blucerchiati have struggled to find the net so far, and are currently rooted to the foot of the table.
Is it time for Di Francesco to change his system, or will he be ruthless enough to drop his talisman?
Starting XI: Audero (4); Bereszynski (5), Chabot (5), Colley (6); Depaoli (5), Linetty (5), Ekdal (5), Jankto (7), Murru (5); Rigoni (5), Quagliarella (5)
Substitutes: Bonazzoli (5), Vieira (5), Caprari (6)
STAR MAN - Sampdoria seemed dead and buried in this contest, until Jankto produced a superb finish to drag his side back into the game. The Czech Republic midfielder was a beacon of light during another dim performance from the home side, who seemed incredibly blunt going forward and chaotic at the back.
Jankto did his best to take control of the midfield battle, but unfortunately for the 23-year-old, he came up against the bionic Sensi. Sampdoria are in a real fight at the bottom of the Serie A table this year, and Jankto will be key to Di Francesco's side pulling themselves away from danger.
Key Talking Point
It was all going so well for Sanchez. When a striker is going through a dry spell in front of goal, it's often said that the out-of-luck forward needs one to go in off his backside to kickstart his season. Well, that's exactly what happened to Sanchez on Saturday evening.
Sensi's shot was heading wide until it took a heavy deflection off the ex-Arsenal striker's rear, and from that moment on the Chilean star visibly grew in confidence, bagging a second soon after.
Then, the dream full-debut turned into a nightmare. A needless dive in the box meant Sanchez received his marching orders, leaving Inter in the lurch with a full half of football to see out their lead. To add insult to injury, the 30-year-old will also be suspended for Inter's biggest game of the season against Juventus next week.
Why, Alexis? Why?
Starting XI: Handanovic (7); Skriniar (7), De Vrij (8), Bastoni (8); Candreva (7), Gagliardini (8), Brozovic (7), Sensi (9), Asamoah (8); Lautaro Martínez (7), Alexis Sánchez (8)
Substitutes: Lukaku (7), Dimarco (6), Barella (6)
STAR MAN - Yep, it's that guy again. Sensi has been the stand-out performer for Conte's side, and once again the young Italian midfielder was Inter's beating heart, carrying out his coach's orders to the letter.
Sensi provided both of Sanchez's first-half goals, his shots turning into assists for the electric goalscorer. The former Sassuolo man bossed the centre of the pitch, and when the going got tough for Inter, the 24-year-old dug in deep and helped to take three points back to Milan.
An unbelievable talent.
Alexis Sanchez scores two goals in couple of minutes in his debut. The Conte effect.— hash (@hashim0307) September 28, 2019
Di Francesco will be desperate to pick up points over the coming weeks, and a trip to Hellas Verona is an excellent opportunity to get back to winning ways for I Blucerchiati.
Inter face a monumental task when they travel to Camp Nou to face Barcelona on Wednesday evening, and then I Nerazzurri host Serie A champions Juventus in Conte's biggest test of the season so far.