MILAN (AFP) – Roberto Mancini suffered his second straight defeat as coach of Inter Milan after a shock 2-1 reverse to Udinese that left his side in 12th spot in Serie A on Sunday.
A week after a 4-2 defeat away to Roma, Inter welcomed former handler Andrea Stramaccioni back to the San Siro for the first time since his sacking at the end of last season.
Udinese were looking to end a five-game winless streak, and it was 38-year-old Stramaccioni who walked away with the plaudits after a composed and determined performance by the northerners.But the Udinese coach admitted Inter and their staff are “still close to my heart” when he told Sky Sport: “Some things you don’t forget. It would have been better to beat Milan.”
Mauro Icardi gave Inter a first-half lead on the stroke of half-time.
But Bruno Fernandes levelled on the hour before Frenchman Cyril Thereau, who replaced Antonio Di Natale on 64 minutes, gave Udinese the lead seven minutes later.
Inter, who sacked Walter Mazzarri last month, have now failed to win their past five games and Mancini – who took over in time for a 1-1 draw with city rivals Milan – hit out at his players’ lack of focus in the second half.
Thereau admitted Stramaccioni had done a perfect job preparing the side for his return to the club that sacked him in the summer of 2013 after a ninth-place finish.
It was Udinese’s first win since a 2-0 home defeat of Atalanta on October 26 and moves Stramaccioni’s side up to eighth, 14 points behind leader Juventus but level with seventh-placed Milan. Inter remain 12th, 18 points off the pace and nine behind third-placed Genoa in the third and last Champions League qualifying spot.
On a weekend that saw the top three – Juventus, Roma and Napoli – held to draws, Genoa were among the few top-five teams left celebrating.
Genoa welcomed Filippo Inzaghi’s Milan to the Luigi Ferraris looking to stretch their unbeaten run to nine games and had plenty of incentive after Napoli were held 2-2 by Empoli earlier.