Inter rattled the woodwork twice and tested Federico Marchetti, but Miroslav Klose got the late goal as Lazio won 1-0.
These two sides have been among the surprise packages of the campaign and while the Nerazzurri made their intentions clear by beating Napoli to go into second place, the Aquile were still dark horses in the Scudetto race. Ederson was injured with Pedro Cavanda and Libor Kozak suspended, but Miroslav Klose returned from the start. Inter switched to a four-man defence with Fredy Guarin as trequartista behind Antonio Cassano and Diego Milito.
Senad Lulic stepped in for Antonio Candreva and threatened a goal when running on to a ball over the top, but was flagged offside. Some desperate Inter defending from a corner saw several shots charged down until it was eventually turned wide.
Javier Zanetti rushed back to stop Stefano Mauri turning in a Klose assist, then Cristian Ledesma drilled wide after a poor Andrea Ranocchia clearance.
Samir Handanovic smothered a Hernanes effort, but at the other end Guarin’s shot was deflected just past the post for a corner off Michael Ciani, from which Ranocchia nodded over.
Inter again rode their luck after Abdoullay Konko flashed a ball across the face of goal, but Mauri just failed to get hold of it and Klose’s shot was charged down behind him.
Lulic went on the counter and set up Mauri, but Walter Samuel got a crucial touch in to turn it out for a corner. From that set play, Klose’s header came off Giuseppe Biava to go over the bar.
Klose was furious on 41 minutes, as he felt that Alvaro Pereira clipped the back of his heels as he tried to get on the end of a Mauri cross in the box, though it could be argued they were both looking at the ball and got tangled.
In first half stoppages Mauri should’ve smashed it when in space on the edge of the box, but hesitated and tried to pass instead, giving possession away.
After the restart Federico Marchetti had to punch a dangerous cross off Diego Milito’s feet, while Hernanes blasted high and wide on the counter-attack from a promising position.
The game was finally opening up and Guarin drilled just wide between four Lazio players in the D. Esteban Cambiasso limped off for Rodrigo Palacio, moving Guarin into a deeper role. Stefan Radu was lucky not to score an own goal when putting a long pass out with nobody around him. Handanovic flapped at a corner, but Mauri’s overhead kick was penalised for dangerous play.
Guarin came so close to giving Inter the lead on 66 minutes, as his daisy-cutter from distance surprised Marchetti to crack against the base of the far post. It just dribbled inches past the goalkeeper’s fingertips and the Lazio man was glad to see it bounce back out.
Handanovic did well to read a Hernanes free kick and pluck it out of the near top corner.
However, there was an incredible double chance at the other end. Marchetti got a fingertip to Cassano’s curling shot to turn it on to the post, then got back up immediately to parry Yuto Nagatomo’s follow-up from point-blank range.
Palacio curled just wide from the resulting corner. Candreva cut in from the left to also fire past the upright.
Klose really should’ve scored on 79 minutes when he sprung the offside trap from a Mauri cross and was clear on goal, but tried to take a touch rather than shoot straight away and ended up prodding it meekly into the arms of Handanovic from eight yards.
Moments later Klose found space through the middle and went on a mazy run, but he lost his balance and went down. The move continued and at the other end an Inter three-against-one was stopped by a Milito push on Biava.
Klose made up for that earlier error by giving Lazio the lead. The German veteran ran between two defenders on a Mauri through ball and at full stretch anticipated them to fire past the on-rushing goalkeeper.
Philippe Coutinho almost scored with his first touch, nodding over totally unmarked from a Cassano free kick. Antonio Candreva was booked for going through the back of Palacio in a very late tackle. Inter poured forward, as Ranocchia's overhead kick and a Coutinho half-volley were charged down in the same move amid penalty appeals for a Michael Ciani shirt-tug, but Lazio held out for all three points.