Diego Milito had his penalty saved, but he and Walter Samuel struck in the final minutes to sink Chievo in Inter’s first win since January.
The Nerazzurri ended their run of defeats by fighting back to hold Catania 2-2, but had still managed only two points from the last nine official games. Wesley Sneijder returned to the starting XI with Diego Forlan and Diego Milito, but Esteban Cambiasso was dropped. Andrea Ranocchia, Fredy Guarin and the suspended Luc Castaignos missed out.
Chievo welcomed back Sergio Pellissier from a ban, but were without Gennaro Sardo, Santiago Morero and Nikola Gulan. Inter President Massimo Moratti was in the stands.
The Nerazzurri were awarded a penalty after 13 minutes when Acerbi fell for a Lucio flick and handled in the box. Milito stepped up only to fire his central spot-kick straight at Stefano Sorrentino, who stuck up a hand to parry. The Chievo goalkeeper continued his excellent record at saving penalties, parrying three this season alone.
Sneijder was very unlucky not to open the scoring, as his looping right-foot curler from the edge of the box beat Sorrentino only to crack against the top of the crossbar.
Javier Zanetti only scuffed his finish under pressure from two Chievo defenders, while a Dejan Stankovic shot on the volley was just over the bar.
A Luciano cross-shot landed on the roof of the net with Julio Cesar scrambling across and Andrea Poli’s wayward clearance threatened an own goal. An acrobatic Stankovic scissor-kick volley was charged down in the box.
It was almost 1-0 to Chievo before the break, as Pellissier surged forward on the counter to hold off Lucio and his shot from a tight angle was beaten away by Julio Cesar’s trailing leg with nobody ready to tap the loose ball into an empty net.
At the other end, Forlan’s flick whistled just wide and a Sneijder attempt was too weak to trouble Sorrentino.
After the restart, Sneijder’s chipped pass across the face of goal went past everyone, including the head of Douglas Maicon and outstretched Poli foot.
Maicon burst past Michael Bradley, but Acerbi performed a decisive and clean tackle to stop him short in the area. Chievo moved to a five-man defence and made it very difficult for Inter to create chances in the second half.
Stankovic had another shot charged down and Giampaolo Pazzini replaced Forlan, but it was Chievo who threatened with Bradley’s free kick just over the bar.
Esteban Cambiasso came off the bench and should’ve scored with practically his first touch, as Sneijder’s free kick was palmed into his path, but he blasted over the bar.
Inter kept pushing and at the 87th minute a corner found Walter Samuel’s towering header across the face of goal to open the scoring. The Argentine defender got away from marker and former Inter player Marco Andreolli.
The Nerazzurri secured their first victory since January with Milito also escaping the defence to nod in Javier Zanetti’s cross from six yards. The cameras trained on Coach Ranieri, who seemed misty-eyed at this late fightback.
Missed penalty: Milito 14 (I)