Crotone 0 Inter 2: Skriniar and Perisic deliver as Spalletti's side leave it late
Late goals from Milan Skriniar and Ivan Perisic helped maintain Inter's 100 per cent start to the Serie A season as they edged past a stubborn Crotone side 2-0.
Luciano Spalletti's men looked in real danger of dropping their first points of the campaign at Stadio Ezio Scida before Slovakian defender Skriniar poked home with just eight minutes remaining.
Croatian forward Perisic then doubled Inter's advantage in stoppage time with a low strike.
Joao Mario had missed a golden opportunity to give Inter the lead in the first half, while Crotone's best chance went to Marcus Rohden, whose close-range header was superbly kept out by Nerazzurri goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.
It was a hugely improved performance from Crotone, but they are yet to score in four games so far this season.
Inter will hope to maintain their impressive start when they travel to Bologna on Tuesday, while Crotone will be eyeing their first three points - and goal - of the campaign with a trip to Atalanta on Wednesday.
Inter started confidently, but it was the hosts who enjoyed the first sight of goal after eight minutes. Aleksandar Tonev picked Miranda's pocket on the halfway line and burst towards Inter's box, but his drilled shot was comfortably repelled by Handanovic.
Perisic then had Inter's first effort on goal but he struggled to generate enough power on his left-footed shot to trouble Alex Cordaz.
Just a minute later and Handanovic was called into action again. Ante Budimir failed to make a clean connection on his long-range half-volley, but the Inter goalkeeper could only fumble it around the post when it looked easier to gather.
Joao Mario then missed a golden opportunity to give his side the lead just before the half-hour mark.
Borja Valero stole possession just inside the Crotone half before releasing Perisic, whose through ball was latched onto by Joao Mario. The Portuguese international, though, was only able to roll his low shot past Cordaz's far post.
The final chance of the half went to the hosts as Bruno Martella's fierce drive from a short free-kick careered agonisingly past Handanovic's post.
The half-time break did little to halt Crotone's momentum and they should have been ahead five minutes into the second period.
Tonev latched onto a long ball over the top of the Inter defence, but when confronted with Handanovic he could only hit his effort into the body of the Slovenian.
Handanovic was called into action again midway through the second half with a stunning save.
Rohden met a teasing cross with a close-range header but the Inter keeper showed incredible reflexives to tip the ball over the bar.
Just when it looked like Inter would have to settle for a point, Skriniar stepped up in the 82nd minute and prodded home after a scramble in the middle of the Crotone area.
Perisic then compounded Crotone's misery with a deflected strike to wrap up all three points.
Key Opta stats:
- The last team which have failed to score in the first four Serie A games was Venezia in 1998-99.
- Inter have won their first four Serie A games of the season for the sixth time. In the previous four, they finished in the top four at the end of the season.
- Inter have kept two clean sheet in a row for the first time since February.
- Ivan Perisic has had a hand in 10 goals (six assists, four goals) in his last six Serie A games.
- Milan Skriniar has scored his first goal in Serie A, in his 42th appearance.