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Icardi on target but Inter Milan slip again

Milan (AFP) – Mauro Icardi hit his first goal of the season but Inter Milan’s plans for Champions League qualification suffered a second knock in as many weeks in a 1-1 home draw with Palermo on Sunday.

After last week’s shock 2-0 defeat at Chievo, Inter were keen to make amends in their first game of the campaign at the San Siro, where new signing Joao Mario was presented to fans minutes before kick-off.

But Inter, who were busy in the summer transfer market following their recent takeover by Chinese tycoon Zhang Jindong, are still a work in progress under new coach Frank De Boer.

Palermo only narrowly avoided relegation last season but the San Siro gasped with relief when Edoardo Goldaniga just failed to get on the end of Oscar Hiljemark’s free kick for the visitors in the opening minutes.

Inter showed little in the way of creativity while in possession, prompting a long chorus of jeers from unhappy fans, but luck didn’t always go their way.

When Gary Medel pounced on a loose ball to strike from 12 yards his effort was cleared off the goalline by Sinisa Andelkovic. 

Yet the hosts kept the pressure on and came close to breaking the deadlock only for defender Joao Miranda to head wide from a corner after Palermo ‘keeper Josip Posavec flapped at Ivan Perisic’s shot.

Jeison Murillo glanced another header wide from Ever Banega’s corner soon after, while at the other end Hiljemark blasted over Handanovic’s crossbar from the edge of the area following a poor clearance from the ‘keeper.

Inter picked themselves up after the interval, but it was Palermo who found the net first.

Argentine midfielder Banega, signed from Sevilla in the close season, crucially lost possession deep in midfield, and when the ball eventually fell kindly to Andrea Rispoli on the edge of the area his deflected shot off Davide Santon sent ‘keeper Samir Handanovic the wrong way.

Anton paid for his unintentional gaffe when he was replaced by Senna Miangue in the 69th minute. But it was the arrival of Antonio Candreva in place of Perisic at the same time that paid the biggest dividends.

Icardi had fans up out their seats when he rose to flash a glancing header just wide of Posavec’s upright.

Barely a minute later, a superbly-worked cross from ex-Lazio winger Candreva found Icardi unmarked just inside the box for the Argentine to glance past Posavec and inside the bottom far corner of the net.

But the goals just would not come for the hosts.

Inter spurned a great chance to take the lead when Italy international Eder, following another great delivery from Candreva, rose to power a header just off target.

In the closing minutes Frenchman Geoffrey Kondogbia did well to keep possession on the left and deliver an inviting ball that eventually found its way to Candreva, but his drive was a yard wide of the top corner.

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