Contentious Icardi spot-kick maintains Spalletti's unbeaten run

Mauro Icardi's controversial penalty rescued a point for Inter as Luciano Spalletti's unbeaten start continued with a 1-1 draw at Bologna.

Icardi kept his nerve to slam home in the 77th minute.   -  AP

Inter continued its unbeaten start under Luciano Spalletti in Serie A and edged to the top of the table as Mauro Icardi's penalty salvaged a 1-1 draw at Bologna.

It looked as though Simone Verdi's first-half stunner would prove enough for Bologna to claim a first top-flight victory over Inter after six encounters without a win, but the Nerazzurri was handed a lifeline in fortuitous circumstances.

With Bologna on the back foot after Inter's second-half resurgence, Ibrahima Mbaye slipped in the host's area and fell into Eder, who flopped to the floor.

The referee showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot and - after double-checking with the video assistant referee - the decision stood, with Icardi keeping his nerve to slam home in the 77th minute

It set up a grandstand finish, and though Inter could not craft a winner, Roberto Donadoni's side was left to rue some golden opportunities squandered in a first half it dominated.

The point maintains Spalletti's impressive start to his Inter tenure, though does bring to a halt the Nerazzurri's four-game winning streak under the former Roma boss.

Inter should have been ahead inside the first minute when Joao Mario failed to connect with Antonio Candreva's cross after the former Lazio winger stole in behind Bologna's defence.

Bologna responded forcefully - Federico Di Francesco curling a strike just wide before Verdi hit the right-hand upright from an acute angle.

Verdi should have done much better shortly afterwards, having latched onto a poor pass from Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic, but he atoned for that miss in the 32nd minute.

Moments after testing Handanovic with a dipping free-kick, Bologna's striker breezed his way through Inter's defence before thumping a sublime long-range shot into the left-hand corner.

Inter would have found itself level prior to the break had Mauro Icardi got on the end of Ivan Perisic's cross, and that chance seemed to boost Spalletti's men after the restart.

However, it was not until the hour that Inter would bring a save out of Antonio Mirante, who reacted sharply to deny Milan Skriniar a second goal in as many matches.

Spalletti's side grew in confidence, though Bologna continued to present a threat on the counter - Godfred Donsah blazing a strike over from distance.

Bologna was made to pay for an overall sluggish second-half approach when Eder made the most of Mbaye's unfortunate tumble.

Icardi made no mistake with an emphatic finish high into the net, sparring Inter's blushes and take it - temporarily at least - top of Serie A.

 

Key Opta stats
- Simone Verdi’s goal came from his sixth shot of the game and attempted seven shots in the first half, a record during the opening 45 minutes of a Serie A match this season.
- Mauro Icardi has scored six goals in the opening five matchdays of the Serie A in each of the last two seasons.
- Inter has won the joint-most penalties in the top five European leagues this season (three).
- Seven of Inter's 11 goals scored in Serie A this season have come during the last 15 minutes of games.
- Six of the seven Bologna have let in have come after half-time.
- Inter has won the joint-most points (four) from behind, while Bologna has dropped the same amount from winning positions.