Inter dominated the first half, went 3-0 up and hit the woodwork twice, but ultimately held on for a 3-2 victory over Sampdoria.
The Nerazzurri could temporarily go top with a victory and fielded the same XI for the third game running after Milan and Napoli, as only Marcelo Brozovic was out. Samp had lost just one game all season and missed Emiliano Viviano and Dodo, while resting Ivan Strinic and Gianluca Caprari.
Sampdoria have won this top flight fixture only eight times along with 16 draws and 36 defeats. Before last season’s 2-1 result, their last Serie A victory at San Siro was a 4-3 thriller in December 1996.
It was a very bright start from the visitors, with Fabio Quagliarella and Duvan Zapata off target, but after four minutes Antonio Candreva’s screamer flashed inches past the far post.
Ivan Perisic shrugged off two defenders down the left only to fire straight at Christian Puggioni, then pulled back another assist for Danilo D’Ambrosio to prod just wide.
Inter took the lead with the man who left Sampdoria over the summer, as Puggioni parried a Candreva counter and the resulting corner was flicked on for Milan Skriniar to bundle over the line. The goalkeeper should’ve been quicker to react, but Skriniar did not celebrate against his former teammates.
Perisic almost scored the goal of the season on 29 minutes, as he spotted Puggioni off his line and aimed the lob from midfield, but with the goalkeeper beaten, it bounced off the inside of the far post.
Puggioni made up for it with tough saves on Yuto Nagatomo and a Mauro Icardi header, but could do nothing on a wonderful right-foot volley from Icardi as the cross from the right was deflected into the air. He waited for it to come down and smashed the volley into the far bottom corner.
It was a dominant performance from the hosts, as Icardi’s header hit the upright from another corner. On the stroke of half-time, Duvan Zapata’s first touch let him down, allowing Samir Handanovic to smother.
Gianluca Caprari – who moved to Samp from Inter as part of the Skriniar transfer – came on for the second half and immediately hit the side-netting with a free kick.
Again, just as the Blucerchiati were turning up the pressure, Inter added a third goal at the end of a wonderful team move, Icardi cushioning a volley with the inside of his left boot on a Perisic cross from the right.
Quagliarella blasted over from distance and Perisic rattled the woodwork yet again, running on to an Icardi disguised pass to thump the bar from a tight angle.
Moments later, Samp proved Inter could not be complacent by getting back in to the game. A long Quagliarella cross surprised Handanovic and found substitute Dawid Kownacki to tap in the volley at the back post.
It was almost 3-2, as Caprari threaded through for Quagliarella to blast just wide of the near top corner. The visitors increased the pressure in the final 15 minutes, with Yuto Nagatomo’s risky back-header to Handanovic almost causing a problem and Perisic back for a decisive sliding block on Quagliarella’s shot from eight yards.
It still wasn’t over, as with five minutes remaining, Dennis Praet’s looping cross from the right found Quagliarella’s header for 3-2.
Suddenly it was wide open, as Inter had visibly taken their foot off the gas. Icardi still came close to adding a fourth within a minute, his shot parried by Puggioni’s foot at the near stick, but Gian Marco Ferrari’s cross was inches away from Quagliarella as he came sliding in and Caprari volleyed a Nicola Murru assist over the bar.
Deep into stoppages, Skriniar needed a sliding tackle to block another attempt, as Inter eventually clung on for the victory.