Hernanes made his debut, but it was Walter Samuel who gave Inter their first victory of 2014, squeezing past Sassuolo.
Walter Mazzarri gave Hernanes his debut and welcomed back Fredy Guarin for the first time since his proposed transfer to Juventus collapsed, while Walter Samuel replaced Hugo Campagnaro. Ricky Alvarez and Esteban Cambiasso were injured, as the Nerazzurri looked for their first win of 2014. Sassuolo lost 7-0 earlier this season and made their historic maiden visit to San Siro without Francesco Magnanelli, Gaetano Masucci, Francesco Acerbi, Marius Alexe, Emanuele Terranova and the suspended Pedro Mendes.
Alberto Malesani lost his first game with the Neroverdi and had an unenviable run of five consecutive defeats against Inter at San Siro. Inter had won just one of their last 10 games, while Sassuolo had one in eight. Curiously, both of those victories were against Milan.
It was an even start, as Sassuolo did not seem in any way over-awed. Gianluca Pegolo parried a Guarin snapshot from distance, but couldn’t stop it squirming away for a corner.
Paolo Cannavaro’s poor clearance fell to Hernanes, whose curler from outside the box was inches wide of the top corner.
Davide Biondini hobbled off with a suspected groin strain to make way for Chibsah. Lorenzo Ariaudo nodded an Alessandro Longhi free kick over the bar, while Walter Samuel had penalty appeals for a tussle with Cannavaro in the box.
Sassuolo had an excellent scoring opportunity on 32 minutes, as Domenico Berardi curled one of his trademark free kicks over the wall and Samir Handanovic flew across his goal to palm it round the post.
Rodrigo Palacio surged forward down the left on the counter and pulled back from the by-line for Diego Milito, but Pegolo stuck out a foot to parry the shot.
Moments later Palacio burst down the right and rolled across for Milito, but once more Pegolo was alert and managed to charge down Il Principe’s finish from point-blank range.
Pegolo fumbled before the break and Rolando knocked it down for Palacio, who was unable to make the most of the situation.
Inter finally broke through after the restart when a corner was floated in for the head of Samuel, who got in front of his marker to nod in. It was the veteran defender’s first Serie A goal since October 2012.
Aleandro Rosi was booked for a late tackle and will be suspended against Napoli. Pegolo only punched away a cross for Jonathan to blast over from the edge of the box.
Hernanes threaded through for Milito, who again fired straight at Pegolo, while the goalkeeper used his legs to deny the ex-Lazio midfielder after Palacio had anticipated Bianco.
Antonio Floro Flores turned wide on the half-volley and Luca Marrone wasted a counter-attack when his touch let him down and Rolando was able to clear.
Deep into stoppages, Pegolo kept the scoreline down with a double save on Guarin and Botta’s follow-up.