Fiorentina 1-2 Inter: Icardi Breaks Viola Hearts

Gabriele Maltinti

The 20-year-old came off the bench to score the winner and secure the Nerazzurri's second straight win in the process...

Inter was hoping to complete the season sweep over an injury-riddled Fiorentina side at the Stadio Artemio Franchi on Saturday.

The Nerazzurri were coming off a nervy 1-0 win over Sassuolo and were now looking to record their first road win since their 3-0 triumph against Udinese on Nov. 3.

Walter Mazzarri once again opted to start the much-maligned Zdravko Kuzmanovic in midfield much to the chagrin of the Inter faithful, but it was still a pretty stellar lineup that gave even the most-cynical Nerazzurri supporter a glimmer of hope.

I said in the preview leading up to the match that I couldn't shake the feeling that we had a legitimate chance to win this game, but shrugged it off to the illogical part of my brain playing tricks on me.

I also admitted that another loss here would heap more pressure on Mazzarri, who already looked like he had reached his boiling point. So this game was important for a plethora of reasons.

Official Lineups:

Inter: 3-5-2: Handanovic; Rolando, Samuel, Juan Jesus; Jonathan, Guarin, Kuzmanovic, Hernanes, Nagatomo; Palacio, Milito

Substitutes: Mauro Icardi 55', Saphir Taider 72', Danilo D'Ambrosio 87'

Coach: Walter Mazzarri

Fiorentina: 3-5-1-1: Neto; Diakite, Gonzalo, Compper; Cuadrado, Aquilani, Pizarro, Mati Fernandez, Vargas; Joaquin; Ilicic

Substitutes: Nenad Tomovic 62', Mario Gomez 68', Alessandro Matri 79'

Coach: Vincenzo Montella

MATCH SUMMARY

The Nerazzurri made a bright start to the contest and were almost rewarded for their ambition when Rodrigo Palacio latched onto a pass from Fredy Guarin and rifled a shot that bounced off the post before the Colombian skied the rebound over the bar in the 12th minute.

Inter kept on coming and almost opened the scoring when Hernanes picked out Diego Milito, who unleashed a drive that Neto did well to keep out.

It was all Inter at this point and Milito had another opportunity to put his team out in front but he could only hit the side-netting from an acute angle after twisting away from his marker.

The breakthrough came in the 33rd minute when Palacio chested down Guarin's pass and slipped the ball past the onrushing Neto. It was exactly what the Nerazzurri deserved as Mazzarri would've been thrilled with his team's solid start.

Fiorentina almost hit Inter with a late sucker punch but Samir Handanovic ensured the Nerazzurri took a 1-0 lead into the break with a smart save at his near post.

However, the Viola levelled matters just a minute into the second half when Juan Cuadrado's curling effort found its way past Handanovic

It was a bitter blow for the Nerazzurri and Mazzarri went looking to his bench for answers as Mauro Icardi was brought on for Diego Milito in the 55th minute.

Icardi's introduction was a breath of fresh air for many Interisti, who have been clamouring for the youngster's inclusion in the past few games.

It did not take long for Icardi to make an impact as he beat his defender to the spot and side-footed Yuto Nagatomo's cross past Neto in the 65th minute.

The joy on the striker's face was evident as he was mobbed by his teammates and it was nice to see him making some headlines on the pitch instead of so many off it.

Inter was hardly free and clear at this point due to their frustrating inability to hold a lead especially late in games.

Nerazzurri Nation had their hearts in their mouths in the final few minutes, especially in the last minute of injury time when Mario Gomez just missed tapping in Alessandro Matri's low cross.

Inter held on to record its second consecutive win and with Cagliari on deck at San Siro, extending that streak to three will be the minimum expectation.

But for now, let's just enjoy this victory and hope that this will be the spark that reignites our Champions League challenge. Too idealistic? Probably but a man is allowed to dream.

Inter will be the favorites in nine of its next 10 games before meeting Napoli on April 27. How many of you thought that we would take all three points from Fiorentina?

Forza Ragazzi!

Goalscorers: Palacio (33'), Cuadrado (46'), Icardi (65')

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