Internazionale cleared city rivals Milan into fourth in Serie A with an entertaining 3-1 success over Chievo at the San Siro.
Antonio Cassano had put the hosts ahead in only the second minute thanks to a howler by goalkeeper Christian Puggioni, but the stopper recovered from the early error to deny Inter on numerous occasions.
Chievo eventually levelled through Luca Rigoni, only for Andrea Ranocchia to restore Inter's lead only five minutes later and Andrea Stramaccioni's men did not look back.
Diego Milito marked his return with a strong finish five minutes into the second half which allowed the home side to relax and see out the win which sees them capitalise on their local rivals being held in Cagliari.
The prospect of overtaking their city rivals into fourth place was a rich incentive heading into this home fixture, so much so that Inter were able to take the lead with less than 120 seconds on the clock.
After Cassano’s early corner was cleared back to his feet, the striker lashed in a low second ball which squeaked inside Puggioni at the near post.
Despite conceding in such avoidable fashion, the visitors had started with confidence and enterprise and should have equalised on 12 minutes when Cyril Thereau’s ball forward picked out an onside and unmarked Franceso Acerbi, who somehow guided his free header wide.
A leveller would come after 21, however, when the Milan club gifted their guests yet another free shot, with Rigoni this time making no mistake from four yards with an intelligent headed finish across Samir Handanovic.
Parity lasted just five minutes after Puggioni had somehow denied a clean-through Esteban Cambiasso with his feet and the subsequent corner was powered home by Ranocchia’s superb 15-yard header.
The game remained end-to-end, with Handanovic bravely punching clear to deny the visitors a certain shot on goal halfway through the first period, which sparked a lightning counter ending with Walter Gargano forcing another legs block from Puggioni.
Gargano came even closer to getting on the scoresheet eight before the interval when he took direct free-kick duties in the absence of the suspended Cristian Chivu and curled a lovely effort onto the upright, with Rodrigo Palacio unable to get to the rebound.
Breathing space would come for Inter in the 50th minute as Cambiasso squared from the right to Milito inside the area, and the striker’s first touch bought time enough time and space to fire in what would be the match clincher.
The Argentine duo almost combined for two in two, but this time Puggioni again produced a brave block to deny Milito before parrying Yuto Nagatomo’s follow-up.
Puggioni well and truly washed away memories of his nightmare start to the contest with another great double save on 78 minutes to keep out Nagatomo and then Palacio in succession but even without the additional goals, the second half was a comfortable one for the Nerazzurri.
- Sports & Recreation
- Christian Puggioni
- Antonio Cassano
- Andrea Ranocchia
- Diego Milito