Strong second half rescues point for Inter Milan, and might have turned its season

FC Yahoo
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/soccer/players/matias-vecino/" data-ylk="slk:Matias Vecino">Matias Vecino</a>’s goal late in the second half finished off an impressive stretch that might have saved Inter <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/soccer/teams/milan/" data-ylk="slk:Milan">Milan</a>. (AP)
Matias Vecino’s goal late in the second half finished off an impressive stretch that might have saved Inter Milan. (AP)

It wasn’t a win, but Inter Milan’s second-half performance against AS Roma might just be what stems the tide of its recent slide.

Midfielder Matias Vecino rose up and snapped home an equalizing header in the 86th minute as Inter drew Roma 1-1 Sunday in a critical clash in terms of Serie A’s top-four race.

It’s a race for which Inter helped set the pace in the fall, winning 12 of its first 16 league matches and drawing the other four. But a home loss to Udinese over a month ago has sent the club spiraling a bit.

Inter looked much sharper in the second half against Roma, and was unfortunate not to have won. Its 4-2-3-1 stretched the visitors with plenty of protection in behind, and Inter played crosses into the box to try to capitalize.

Four minutes before stoppage time, the Nerrazurri did just that:

It wasn’t the prettiest goal, but it was definitely coming, and goalkeeper Alisson is the reason Roma left the San Siro with a point. He made two especially clutch stops on Inter’s Mauro Icardi late to preserve the draw.

Roma took the lead in the 31st minute when Stephan El Shaarawy punished Inter for poor defending. Alisson launched a long pass in El Shaarawy’s direction down the right sideline, and Inter left back Davide Santon completely misplayed it. Teammate Miranda couldn’t catch up in time, and El Shaarawy quelled concerns after a clunky first touch with a nice finish:

Inter stays three points ahead of Roma in fourth place, though Roma has a game in hand.

Serie A has become relatively stratified, with Napoli and Juventus fighting for the title and Inter, Roma and Lazio (which also has a game in hand) settled a couple of results back. But nobody else is seriously challenging those five, so the race for two Champions League spots will likely come down to three teams.

A loss Saturday could have spelled big trouble for Inter. Instead, it might have found its stride again.

Joey Gulino is the editor of FC Yahoo and moonlights as a writer. Follow him on Twitter at @JGulinoYahoo.

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