Inter scraped a 1-0 victory in Cesena thanks to Andrea Ranocchia’s header and the saves of Julio Cesar.
The Nerazzurri had rediscovered their form with two consecutive Serie A wins, but hadn’t won three on the bounce for seven months. Cesena had a disastrous start to the season, but Coach Daniele Arrigoni was turning it around with four wins from the last three rounds, including a shock victory to end Palermo’s 100 per cent home record.
Wesley Sneijder, Cristian Chivu, Jonathan and Emiliano Viviano were still out, while the home side missed Jorge Martinez, Giuseppe Colucci, Raphael Martinho and the suspended Marco Rossi.
Esteban Cambiasso’s cross-shot was palmed out for a corner, but Yuto Nagatomo faced his former club and hit a splendid volley just over the bar.
Surprisingly, Cesena created more opportunities in the first half with a series of crosses, although Lucio and Andrea Ranocchia were equal to them. Philippe Coutinho curled a free kick over the bar, but Julio Cesar had to get down to beat away a powerful Antonio Candreva daisy-cutter.
Thiago Motta’s free kick went into the wall, but Adrian Mutu had penalty appeals on the stroke of half-time when he tumbled under pressure from Lucio. The referee waved play on and the replays suggest it was absolutely the right decision.
Joel Obi replaced Coutinho at the break, but Roberto Guana and Eder had two shots charged down in quick succession, as Inter were caught out on the counter. Marco Parolo also stung Julio Cesar’s fingertips with his left-foot strike from distance.
Inter did take the lead with their first real chance on 63 minutes. A free kick was whipped towards the near post by Douglas Maicon for Andrea Ranocchia’s glancing header, as Francesco Antonioli mistimed his intervention.
Ranocchia was decisive at the other end too, charging down Mutu’s attempt, while a Candreva angled drive was deflected wide. Meanwhile, the Nerazzurri gave Diego Forlan is comeback after a long injury lay-off.
Cesena continued to attack as Inter tried to slow down the tempo. With five minutes to go, a Candreva free kick was knocked down by Lauro for Abdel Ghezzal’s stunning volley, but Julio Cesar somehow readjusted to parry with an outstretched leg from close range.