Novara 3-1 Inter: Rigoni double helps condemn Gasperini's side to embarrassing defeat
The under-fire Nerazzurri tactician's time in the Giueseppe Meazza hot seat looks as if it could be coming to an end after a shock defeat
By Jonathan Mitchell
The Nerazzurri were already under intense pressure following a start to the season which included defeats to Palermo and Trabzonspor.
And it was an Inter old boy, Riccardo Meggiorini, who heaped further pain on the 53-year-old tactician by scoring the opening goal in the 38th minute before Marco Rigoni secured the win with two late strikes, with Esteban Cambiasso's goal proving a mere consolation as Andrea Ranocchia saw red for a professional foul.
Gasperini continued with his mystifying tendency to alter his side in every match by returning to his 3-4-3 formation while handing starts to Cristian Chivu, who had just returned from injury, and teenager Luc Castaignos.
And there was early evidence of the unease which the Inter coach’s uncertainty has transmitted to his players as Novara almost raced into a lead before one minute had even passed.
Chivu played an inexplicable pass into the centre of the box from out on the left. Meggiorini seized on the mistake, but Julio Cesar was alert to the danger and raced from his line to make a sharp block.
The visitors were not only rattled but appeared as if they had no real appetite to try and find the response needed, as Wesley Sneijder fired off a series of half-hearted efforts from 20 to 25 yards, only one of which caused Novara goalkeeper Samir Ujkani any alarm.
Novara, on the other hand, were hungry, disciplined, confident and organised – all qualities that their opponents were failing to display.
Former Inter player Meggiorini embodied everything positive about his side, and it was no surprise when he gave his side the lead in the 38th minute.
Japan international Takayuki Morimoto found Andrea Mazzarani in space wide on the right, and he rolled the ball into the path of the advancing Meggiorini, who fired off a thunderous low drive which flew into the net despite Chivu’s best attempts to block with a lunging tackle.
Gasperini attempted to change things at the break by introducing Joel Obi and Giampaolo Pazzini in place of the ineffectual pair of Diego Forlan and Castaignos.
But, despite the switches, it was the hosts who should have extended their lead in the first significant moment in the second half when Mazzarani was put through one-on-one with Julio Cesar thanks to an intelligent Morimoto flick. But the Brazilian keeper advanced from his ine to block and keep his side in the game.
Inter's embarrassment was compounded when Rigoni converted a late spot-kick after Andrea Rannochia was dismissed for a last-man foul on Morimoto.
A late flurry of activity saw Esteban Cambiasso pull one back with a well-taken strike before Rigoni tapped home after Julio Cesar had blocked a Luigi Giorgi shot to secure a win which piles the pressure on Gasperini.
If the coach remains in charge, his men face another away trip this weekend when they travel south to meet Bologna at Stadio Renato Dall’Ara in Saturday’s early evening kick-off.
Novara also find themselves on the road the following day. Last season’s Serie B play-off winners are away to away to eventual champions Atalanta in an important early-season encounter.
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