Inter got their Champions League campaign back on track, as they beat Borussia Dortmund 2-0 at San Siro to draw level with their opponents on four points.
Dortmund sprung a surprise by using a back three and flicking between formations, which confused Inter for the opening 20 minutes. As the Nerazzurri struggled to see how they could get to grips with their opponents, there was nothing wrong with Stefan de Vrij's vision.
The Dutchman stepped out of defence, stroked the ball over Dortmund's back five and Lautaro Martinez chested down, slotting home to give Inter the lead. Other than an Inter penalty shout and Jadon Sancho drawing a stoppage-time save from Samir Handanovic, that was it for a cagey first half.
Dortmund dominated much of the second half and Inter were happy to counter, proving why when 17-year-old substitute Sebastiano Esposito's pace caused Mats Hummels to concede a penalty. Martinez fluffed his chance to put the game to bed, his poor penalty saved by Roman Burki.
Inter had their second with just a minute left on the clock and it was fittingly from a counter attack. Marcelo Brozović set Antonio Candreva away behind the stretched Dortmund defence to lash home emphatically.
Here's 90min's take on the game.
Key Talking Point
This was a game that Inter really needed to win. If Dortmund were victorious there would be six points between the sides after three matches - two of which Inter would have played at home.
But this was Conte's Inter at their patient best, even more so once they had a lead to protect. Caught between pressing Dortmund and trying to counter attack behind their back five, they laboured before Martinez put them ahead.
Once they had the lead, they were happy to slow the game down and let Dortmund have the ball. The Germans enjoyed 58% possession on the night, but Inter are now a different beast under their fiery manager and defended outstandingly.
They were obviously following their manager's instructions to a tee - we had to wait until the 63rd minute for a close-up on Conte and he even then he wasn't exactly barking orders. A job well done all round.
Starting XI: Handanovic (7); Godín (7); de Vrij (8), Skriniar (7); Candreva (8), Gagliardini (6), Brozovic (7), Barella (6), Asamoah (7); Lukaku (5) Martínez (8*)
Substitutes: Esposito (6), Biraghi (5), Valero (5)
In a game which chances were at a premium - we're talking a grand total of three first half shots here - a cool head and clinical feet were needed. Enter Lautaro Martinez, who timed his run to perfection to sneak in behind Dortmund's defence and give Inter the lead.
With Romelu Lukaku having an off day, it was almost solely Martinez's movement that occupied the opposition defenders and became increasingly more important as Dortmund had the lionshare of second-half possession.
Lautaro continues his stunning form for Inter. He keeps on getting better.— Matteo Bonetti (@BonettiESPN) October 23, 2019
That’s now five goals in his last four Inter games in all competitions, including a strike against Barcelona at Camp Nou.
Inter 1-0 Borussia Dortmund.
He drew fouls to get his penned-in team higher up the pitch, ran into the channels to provide an option for balls in behind and showed a few flicks and tricks to get Inter fans off their seats - the highlight a backheel through to Kwadwo Asamoah.
The only fly in the striker's ointment was that missed penalty, which proved to be of little bearing and he left the San Siro pitch to booming applause.
Key Talking Point
Once the team sheets had been announced it was hard to work out how Lucien Favre had set up his side. With Paco Alcacer and Marco Reus injured, Julian Brandt was charged with leading Dortmund's line, but how was the team shaping up behind him? On paper it seemed like Manuel Akanji would play right back and Achraf Hakimi just ahead in 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2.
In reality, Favre's choice of personnel enabled the team to switch between 5-4-1 and a 3-4-3 which frustrated Inter but meant they were outnumbered in midfield. More strikingly, Dortmund hardly had a presence in Inter's box when they did transition into attack - they were sorely missing a focal point.
Dortmund's formation is actually 5-2-the void of nothingness-3— Lars Pollmann (@LarsPollmann) October 23, 2019
Favre tried to tweak this as the game went on, but could only draw on creative midfielders and a full back. They showed plenty more attacking intent in the second half and carved out chances, but there's not many better at defending deep than Inter.
Starting XI: Bürki (6); Akanji (6), Weigl (6), Hummels (6), Schulz (5); Witsel (7), Delaney (6); Hakimi (7), Hazard (6); Sancho (7*), Brandt (6).
Substitutes: Dahoud (5), Bruun Larsen (5), Guerreiro (4).
It was slim pickings, but Jadon Sancho was Dortmund's best attacking outlet on the night and his effort can't be faulted. Back in the team after the weekend's omission, he seemed determined to show his worth.
The England international drew a fine save from Handanovic and saw a shot cleared off the line by Brozovic, which was sadly as close as his team were to scoring on the night. He dropped deeper, switched positions with those around him but without something to aim at in the box, his crossing ability and pace in the wide areas were wasted.
Schulz is having a nightmare. Played Lautaro onside, and anytime Dortmund go to him on the left, he's closed down quickly and panics— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) October 23, 2019
All of Dortmund's magic has come from quick cross-field switches to Achraf and Sancho
Lautaro is everywhere -- even dropping deep to win the ball
Inter face Parma at San Siro this Saturday before consecutive Serie A away fixtures with Brescia and Bologna. The Champions League then resumes with the reversal of this fixture at Signal Iduna Park.
Between now and then, Dortmund face a trio of tricky Bundesliga fixtures against Schalke, Borussia Monchengladbach and Wolfsburg.