Inter had to fight back from a shock opener to scrape a 2-1 victory over already-relegated Cesena.
The Nerazzurri were still unbeaten under Andrea Stramaccioni and surprisingly right back in the race for a Champions League spot. They were the overriding favourites against already-relegated Cesena, especially as Vangelis Moras, Giuseppe Colucci and Vincenzo Rennella were all suspended with Martinho, Raphael Martinez and Daniel Pudil injured. However, Adrian Mutu and Vincenzo Iaquinta returned to the starting XI.
Inter also had to make changes, as Javier Zanetti, Cristian Chivu, Walter Samuel, Luc Castaignos and the suspended Dejan Stankovic missed out. Giampaolo Pazzini was given a rare start with Wesley Sneijder in support, as Diego Milito and Mauro Zarate were rested. Julio Cesar picked up a last-minute elbow injury, making way for Luca Castellazzi.
Yuto Nagatomo went on a fine run down the left flank and his cross-shot was beaten away at the near post by Francesco Antonioli. Ricky Alvarez skimmed the upright with a daisy-cutter, but Pazzini was off form and it showed, as he side-footed straight at the goalkeeper from point-blank range when a lucky ricochet sent him completely clear on goal.
Douglas Maicon hit the side-netting and Sneijder’s free kick skimmed the bar, while Iaquinta had a couple of efforts from long-range.
Antonioli got down well on 37 minutes to turn a Sneijder daisy-cutter round the base of the near stick. Sneijder chipped up a pass for Pazzini’s glancing header, but Antonioli performed a crucial save to palm it out from under the bar from point-blank range.
43-year-old Antonioli bravely got in the way of a Lucio screamer from a corner, but it was straight at his nose from six yards and the goalkeeper was felled.
At the dawn of the second half Iaquinta scared Castellazzi with a strike that sailed just over the crossbar, while a Pazzini angled drive at the end of a long passing move was blocked by Antonioli.
Less than 30 seconds later, Cesena really should’ve taken the lead at San Siro! Iaquinta squirmed between two defenders and fired on to the crossbar with Castellazzi well beaten from 10 yards.
It was a warning, as relegated Cesena did go in front soon after. Rodriguez hit a cross field pass for Luca Ceccarelli, whose strange cross-shot from the outside edge of the box flew past Castellazzi into the far top corner!
The celebrations lasted only 90 seconds, as Joel Obi’s horribly wayward shot took a massive deflection off Steve Von Bergen to leave his own goalkeeper helpless.
Fredy Guarin blasted over, but substitute Mauro Zarate gave Inter the lead for the first time. Milito sprung the offside trap from a long Sneijder pass, his shot was charged down and the ball was put back in by Guarin for Zarate’s cushioned header from six yards.
In stoppages Andrea Poli’s counter-attack was deflected wide, as Inter sat back and tried to defend their lead.