Hernanes bagged a brace against his former club, but Inter struggled to beat nine-man Lazio and Mauro Icardi missed a penalty.
The Aquile had the chance to recapture second place from rivals Roma, who were beaten by Milan last night, while Roberto Mancini and Hernanes needed points against their old club to keep Euro hopes alive. Lucas Biglia and Miroslav Klose returned, though Stefan de Vrij, Senad Lulic and Lorik Cana were still sidelined.
Lazio had won the last four editions of this fixture and it was a strong start from the hosts, as Antonio Candreva’s snapshot bounced of Samir Handanovic’s chest.
Felipe Anderson burst into the box down the left and pulled back for Candreva, whose strike with the inside of the foot this time squirmed under Handanovic.
Mauro Icardi really should’ve equalised on 14 minutes when a Hernanes nutmeg sent him clear on goal, but he ballooned over the bar from 12 yards.
Lazio somehow didn’t go 2-0 up through Marco Parolo, as first his low drive forced Handanovic into a one-handed save, then the follow-up was cleared off the line by an Andrea Ranocchia diving header.
The game turned when Rodrigo Palacio was going clear on goal, dragged back on the edge of the box by a clumsy Mauricio. The referee opted for a straight red card.
From that incident, Hernanes curled a free kick round the wall and low into the far bottom corner to draw Inter level. He celebrated with his trademark back-flip, infuriating his old fans. Federico Marchetti was also angry, as he felt Gary Medel was offside and blocking his view.
Icardi blasted over the bar, while Marchetti showed quick reflexes on a deflected Palacio strike. The hosts remained dangerous even with 10 men, as Biglia’s first touch let him down on a smart Felipe Anderson assist.
Fredy Guarin stung Marchetti’s gloves at the near post on a well-worked free kick. In first half stoppages Felipe Anderson ran at a crowd of Inter defenders, brought down by Ranocchia, for a Biglia free kick fingertipped over the bar.
Guarin picked up a muscular injury and made way for Lukas Podolski. Marchetti flapped at a Hernanes free kick and Inter started piling on the pressure, but Hernanes and Palacio had efforts charged down.
Klose still could’ve restored Lazio’s lead when springing the offside trap with a flick off the outside of his boot, but Handanovic did just enough to get the ball trapped under his body.
Moments later Icardi went clear on goal from a Hernanes through ball and went down under a clumsy Marchetti attempt to smother at his feet. The referee awarded a penalty and flashed another red card for the goalkeeper, reducing Lazio to nine men.
Etrit Berisha came off the bench, replacing Klose, but the Albanian international goalkeeper’s first touch was to save the Icardi penalty. It was a central and fairly meek effort from the Argentine, but allowed the Aquile to stay in it.
The Biancocelesti kept earning corners and going on dangerous counter-attacks, while Podolski hit a fresh-air shot and when he did get the ball it was straight at Berisha. Dusan Basta skipped past Juan Jesus for a cross-shot charged down and Parolo fired over from a tight angle. Another Podolski attempt was charged down decisively by Parolo from eight yards.
Despite being down to nine men, Lazio continued to attack and were caught out on the counter by a Palacio flick to send Hernanes clear. He kept his cool and placed the angled drive back across Berisha into the corner.
Lazio bravely kept pushing regardless until the final whistle and were almost surprised again, Berisha denying Marcelo Brozovic at the near post.
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Sent off: Mauricio 24 (L), Marchetti 61 (L)
Saved penalty: Icardi 63 (I)