Serie A Week 20 - 12 Jan 2013 (19.45 UK)
Inter 2 - 0
Palacio 31 (I), Guarin 54 (I)
Stadio Giuseppe Meazza

Rodrigo Palacio and Fredy Guarin secured victory over Pescara despite Inter’s injury crisis forcing them to give an 18-year-old his Serie A debut.

The Nerazzurri were in crisis after one point from the last three rounds and a 3-0 thumping in Udine. To make matters worse, they had Andrea Ranocchia and Juan Jesus suspended, while Walter Samuel, Dejan Stankovic, Luca Castellazzi, Ricky Alvarez and Yuto Nagatomo were injured. Diego Milito, Walter Gargano, Gaby Mudingayi and MacDonald Mariga were only fit for the bench, so 18-year-old Marco Benassi was given his Serie A debut after two Europa League appearances.

Pescara were fresh from causing a huge upset when ending Fiorentina’s unbeaten home record, winning three of the last four games. Juan Fernando Quintero was on international duty, Togni suspended and Uros Cosic injured, while captain Emmanuel Cascione was on the bench after suffering from toothache.

PSG star Marco Verratti was in the stands to cheer on his former teammates, while Wesley Sneijder was watching from the touchline as talks continue for a transfer to Galatasaray.

It was almost the perfect Inter counter-attack from Benassi, Fredy Guarin and Rodrigo Palacio, but the Argentine narrowed the angle too much and his finish flashed across an open goal.

Antonio Cassano stung Mattia Perin’s palms from the by-line and Birkir Bjarnason just about timed his tackle correctly in the box on Guarin. From the resulting corner, Alvaro Pereira volleyed high and wide.

It was Palacio who broke the deadlock as a smart Cassano flick carried on the Cristian Chivu through pass, he spun round Christian Terlizzi and hit a rocket into the bottom corner. It was his first goal since November.

A Guarin snapshot was deflected wide, while Antonio Balzano had to intercept a cheeky Cassano backheel into the box. Samir Handanovic took the sting out of a Giuseppe Colucci free kick under the bar.

In first-half stoppages Cassano’s pass sent Jonathan clear down the right, but his misplaced cross went past everyone.

Jonathan flashed another shot across the face of goal to go just wide and Inter doubled their advantage soon after.

Palacio ran on to a Jonathan through ball down the right, pulled back to put Colucci on the ground and rolled across for Guarin to stroke into an empty net from six yards.

It was so nearly 3-0, but Marco Capuano was crucial in closing down Palacio after good work from Cassano.

Another counter-attack came to nothing when Cassano over-hit the pass for an unmarked Palacio and was visibly furious with himself. Mervan Celik was in a promising position, but scuffed his finish into the arms of Handanovic, then nodded over from Bjarnason’s cross.

Cristian Chivu also showed good strength to hold off Jonathas in a one-on-one. Jonathas again went shoulder-to-shoulder with Chivu and this time had penalty appeals, but the goal line referee was right next to them and waved play on.

Tommaso Rocchi’s volley was deflected off Terlizzi, but Jonathas had another great chance when Chivu’s poor clearance turned into an assist only to balloon over the bar.

Perin palmed away a fierce Alvaro Pereira angled drive, then as the move continued Rocchi had another effort charged down in the box. 

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Inter: Handanovic; Silvestre, Cambiasso, Chivu; Jonathan, Zanetti, Benassi, Pereira; Guarin (Mudingayi 78); Cassano (Rocchi 68), Palacio (Milito 86)
: Perin; Balzano, Capuano, Terlizzi, Modesto; Nielsen (Cascione 64), Colucci, Bjarnason; Weiss (Caprari 82); Jonathas, Celik (Abbruscato 77)
Ref: Celi