Inter held off a late Genoa surge to win three crucial points thanks to Yuto Nagatomo’s second-half header.
This was Week 11’s rearranged fixture. The original match was called off after Genoa was one of a number of regions in Italy hit by severe floods that claimed a number of lives. Proceeds from Tuesday night’s match will be donated to the relief fund.
Without Rodrigo Palacio after the Argentine picked up a thigh strain last week, Genoa Coach Alberto Malesani opted for a 3-5-1-1 formation with Ze Eduardo supported by Alexander Merkel in attack. Indeed, Kakha Kaladze’s return to the line-up that allowed for the formation shift was the only change from the team that won 2-0 at Siena on Saturday. The Grifone headed into this encounter having not scored a goal or picked up a point at home to Inter in their last three League meetings at Marassi.
Meanwhile, Claudio Ranieri gave Marco Davide Faraoni a fourth consecutive start for the Nerazzurri and former Sampdoria man Andrea Poli his full debut. Javier Zanetti returned from suspension whilst Diego Milito was passed fit to start after an ankle injury. In all competitions, Ranieri’s men were unbeaten in their last four games away from home, although they had not scored more than once in any away fixture since late September.
Inter dominated possession in the early passages and mustered the first clear chance of the night after Thiago Motta’s expert through-ball found an untracked Giampaolo Pazzini free running into the area. However, the No 7’s low, side-footed effort was matched by Sebastien Frey’s quick drop to the floor.
The opening quarter of the match was hit by several untidy fouls that broke up an otherwise frenetic pace to both sides’ play. Both Faraoni and Giandomenico Mesto had to receive treatment in quick succession.
There were appeals from Inter for a free-kick and a yellow card to Merkel after he appeared to trip Pazzini after losing possession to the striker, but the referee waved play on.
At the other end, Marco Rossi proved to be Malesani’s best outlet in attack, earning a corner after a clever breakaway attack and later earning a throw-in for chasing down Walter Samuel and Lucio for the ball. The half was characterised by frenetic wing-play by both teams, but wasteful crossing and off-target long-range efforts.
Just after the half-hour mark, Inter had a great double-chance to take the lead. Samuel broke free from his marker at a corner for a free header that Frey did well to save. From the rebound, Milito controlled the ball to fire it goalwards from point-blank range, only for the effort to be straight at an alert Frey who managed to hold on to it.
There was a controversial moment soon after when Milito fell to the ground under pressure when through on goal from Pazzini’s flick-on. The striker was aggrieved not to be awarded a free-kick of a penalty for Andrea Granqvist’s attentions on the edge of the area. Replays highlighted that the Swedish centre-back, who was caught the wrong side of the striker, did put his arm across the top of the forward.
Kevin Constant’s strong run down the left caused late panic in the first half for Inter as it forced Julio Cesar to punch clear under Ze Eduardo’s challenge for an excellent cross. Yuto Nagatomo then created as much uncertainty at the other end for an improvised effort off his knee that ran across Frey’s goal.
A quiet start to the second half was initially lit up 10 minutes in when Granqvist thought he had put the home side in front. However, match officials ruled out the effort, whistling that there had been a push in the area in the build-up to the free-kick that the defender had headed in.
Inter took the lead midway through the cagier second half when half-time substitute Ricky Alvarez’s cross from the right side of the pitch was met by an untracked Nagatomo. Alvarez was unchallenged in finding the cross, Nagatomo unmarked in meeting it.
Soon after, Pazzini tested Frey with a snapshot from 14 yards out whilst Milito’s diving header was inches away from meeting a low out-swinging ball across the six-yard box. 10 minutes later, a speculative effort by Alvarez from 30 yards beat Frey but not the upright, the curling effort bouncing before hitting the post and rebounding wide.
Soon after, Genoa almost levelled after Granqvist’s cross was expertly laid off by substitute Andrea Caracciolo to Rossi, but for his effort to take a slight deflection to go wide.
Diego Forlan made his return from injury in the late stages, coming off the bench to replace Milito after several weeks out.
Play was briefly suspended in the closing stages so that Genoa substitute Alberto Marchiori could receive medical attention on the sidelines before being taken away on a stretcher. The unused substitute and primavera captain had collapsed and appeared to be unconscious.
Genoa almost dramatically equalised at the game entered stoppages. A low cross caused chaos and left Rossi with a free shot on goal that was excellently stopped between Nagatomo and Julio Cesar whilst Miguel Veloso’s follow-up effort also required Julio Cesar’s save to tip it over.
From the resulting corner, Inter broke to almost add a second but for Pazzini’s effort to be easily saved by Frey. The game had a frantic finish as Genoa pressed to equalise, but Inter eventually held on for the three points that move them up to joint-sixth in the table.