A much-changed Inter side warmed up perfectly for their midweek meeting with Barcelona in the Champions League by taking Genoa apart 5-0 at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on Saturday afternoon.
Roberto Gagliardini was an unlikely double goalscorer as Luciano Spalletti’s rotations made a claim for a place in the team on Tuesday.
It may have been Gagliardini who got the lion’s share of the goals but Matteo Politano was the standout performer for the Nerazzurri, causing problems from the first minute.
All eyes were on Lautaro Martinez from kick off and he should have given Inter an early lead and Politano picked him out early on but he passed up a big chance, oddly appearing to send the ball over the crossbar with his thigh.
Gagliardini then did his best impression of absent captain Mauro Icardi by converting a poacher’s chance before Politano doubled the lead before much more time had passed.
Inter then went into cruise control and Gagliardini got his second after half-time, rifling in a loose ball from close range after Ivan Perisic has a chance of his own.
Joao Mario made it four after the 90th minute with a low strike from the edge of the box before Radja Nainggolan made it 5-0 with the game’s very last touch, heading in and prompting the final whistle.
Goleador Gagliardini proving his point
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Roberto Gagliardini since he made his move from Atalanta 18 months ago and, after a bright start, the last year or so has been difficult for the midfielder.
On Saturday though he showed that there is still a talented player there and, with confidence and when used correclty, he has plenty to offer Spalletti’s side.
His goals were just the icing on the cake of an impressive performance from the 24-year-old Bergamasco and he barely put a foot wrong all afternoon.
It could have been even better for him had a late chance fallen more kindly for him, but he was forced into an acrobatic effort that was never likely to come off and was easily caught by Andrei Radu.
Politano warms up for Barcelona
One thing was clear from the first whistle on Saturday and it was that Matteo Politano was in the mood to cause problems for the Grifone.
Right from the off, he was looking to find the most direct route to Radu’s goal and he did his best to gift Lautaro Martinez an early opener, before going on to get Inter’s second himself.
Nearly everything the Biscione did came through the ex-Sassuolo winger and if they were in the final third and it wasn’t Politano in possession, whoever had the ball looked to him before anyone else to find that cutting edge.
Him delivering is nothing new and it’s true that he has been one of Inter’s biggest threats this season but, in the first half in particular, he was excellent against Genoa.
No Piatek, big problems for Genoa
It was never likely that Krzysztof Piatek’s incredible early-season form would continue at quite the same rate and the Rossoblu became reliant on his goals.
Of their 16 Serie A goals this season, the Pole has his name to nine and with him sitting on the bench at the San Siro his team looked lost without a focal point in attack on their rare ventures out of their own half.
The No.9 was introduced in the second half, immediately after Inter had taken a 3-0 lead but there was little anyone could do to salvage the situation at that point and, other than some quick footwork moments after his arrival, he barely had a sniff.