Inter gifted the advantage in the Serie A title race to rivals AC Milan as they slumped to a bitterly disappointing 2-1 defeat to Bologna on Wednesday night.
Simone Inzaghi’s side trailed Milan by two points but this was their game in hand, and a win would have taken them back to top spot and kept the title within their grasp.
It looked like they were going to get the win they needed when Ivan Perisic opened the scoring just three minutes in. A nice one-two handed him some space on the edge of the box, and he rocketed home a glorious effort to give Inter an early lead.
The shots continued to fire in. Federico Dimarco saw his own long drive turned away by Bologna stopper Lukasz Skorupski, and the rebound was fired high and wide by Lautaro Martinez. Inter were absolutely on fire and they looked set to score five or six.
However, against the run of play, it was Bologna who bagged the next goal. Marko Arnautovic started a nice move and finished it with a dominant header that saw him bully Dimarco en route to powering home an equaliser.
Denzel Dumfries wasn’t far off restoring Inter’s lead with his own header, but he rose too early to meet Perisic’s cross and sent his effort over the bar.
It all got a little scrappy for Inzaghi’s men at the end of the first half, and that story continued into the second.
Inter had to work really hard for their chances and they thought they had taken the lead ten minutes after the restart as Joaquin Correa’s header was superbly saved by Skorupski.
A change of shape followed as Edin Dzeko and Alexis Sanchez entered the fray, but the story remained very similar – Inter relied on crosses and long shots but couldn’t create anything of note.
And then, again out of nowhere, Bologna took the lead.
With eight minutes to go, goalkeeper Ionut Radu completely fluffed a backpass, missing the ball and presenting an open goal to Nicola Sansone, who could hardly believe his luck as he tapped home.
Inter went straight down the other end and saw an effort cleared of the line by Danilo D’Ambrosio, and they pushed and pushed and pushed in an attempt to avoid a defeat which may well define their season, but it just wasn’t to be.
With four games to go, it’s advantage Milan.
GK: Ionut Radu – 4/10 – Had very little to do on this rare start but may well have made the mistake that costs his side the title.
CB: Milan Skriniar – 6/10 – Decent going forwards but guilty of some poor decisions at the back. Needed to take more control as he left Dimarco with Arnautovic. Denied the Austrian really well after the break.
CB: Stefan de Vrij – 5/10 – Pretty similar but seemed to get battered by Arnautovic whenever he tried to deal with him.
CB: Federico Dimarco – 5/10 – His attacking output was clear but his defensive deficiencies were even clearer. Regularly targeted by Arnautovic.
RM: Denzel Dumfries – 5/10 – A dominant start but slowly faded away as Aaron Hickey grew into proceedings.
CM: Nicolo Barella – 3/10 – Started well but fell off massively. Looked more interested in starting a fight than playing an accurate pass.
CM: Marcelo Brozovic – 4/10 – Faded away like Barella. A massive disappointment.
CM: Hakan Calhanoglu – 5/10 – Absolutely superb before Bologna’s equaliser but couldn’t manage the same impact after. Booked and suspended for the next game.
LM: Ivan Perisic – 6/10 – An real screamer of a goal and some unreal passing early on. Delayed his drop-off until after the break.
ST: Lautaro Martinez – 4/10 – Couldn’t get into the game really. His movement was a little underwhelming.
ST: Joaquin Correa – 3/10 – Looked on a different wavelength to most of his team-mates. His wrong decisions and slow play cost his team.
SUB: Edin Dzeko (63′ for Barella) – 5/10
SUB: Alexis Sanchez (63′ for Correa) – 5/10
SUB: Danilo D’Ambrosio (79′ for Dimarco) – 6/10
SUB: Roberto Gagliardini (80′ for Calhanoglu) – 5/10
SUB: Matteo Darmian (80′ for Dumfries) – 5/10