Andrea Stramaccioni’s Inter debut was certainly dramatic! It was a nine-goal thriller as they squeezed past Genoa 5-4 thanks to a Diego Milito hat-trick with two red cards!
Claudio Ranieri was sacked on Monday night after the 2-0 defeat to Juventus, just 24 hours after Stramaccioni won the NextGen Series with the Inter Primavera side, effectively the Champions League for Under-19s. The 36-year-old tactician here made his Serie A debut, but was without Wesley Sneijder and Douglas Maicon. Genoa have been struggling all season and missed Kevin Constant, Juraj Kucka, Luca Antonelli and Andreas Granqvist for this trip.
Rodrigo Palacio had a couple of early chances, the second smothered at his feet by Julio Cesar. From a corner Esteban Cambiasso had to clear a looping Giuseppe Sculli header practically off the line at the back post.
However, Inter took the lead against the run of play. Cambiasso, Zarate and Forlan all combined for the Uruguayan’s cross from the left that Milito turned in with a cushioned header from six yards. The former Genoa hero refused to celebrate against his old club.
The Nerazzurri went close to a second, as Walter Samuel knocked down a long Lucio free kick for Cambiasso’s header, forcing a spectacular reaction save out of Sebastien Frey. Milito could’ve had a second, but Forlan intercepted to shoot off target from a deflected Zarate cross.
Milito doubled his tally after some disastrous Genoa defending. He sprung the offside trap when a long ball was flicked on by the defence, leaving him one-on-one to strike past Frey with the inside of his right foot.
Samuel made it 3-0 in another well-worked move. Lucio got down the right and flashed a ball into the six-yard box where Samuel came sliding in from a couple of yards, completing an all-defender goal.
Genoa did manage to pull one back in first half stoppages. Cambiasso managed another goalline clearance, but then Sculli’s overhead kick ricocheted off teammate Emiliano Moretti to wrong-foot Julio Cesar.
Genoa threatened a second at the dawn of the second half, but Gilardino at full stretch could not get enough power to beat Julio Cesar on Giandomenico Mesto’s cross. Frey palmed away a powerful Zanetti right-foot strike from the edge of the box.
However, Genoa were awarded a penalty when Sculli’s header struck Javier Zanetti’s arm in the box. The veteran did not move towards it, but his arm was also somewhat out-stretched. Rodrigo Palacio stepped up and confidently converted the spot-kick to make it 3-2.
Fredy Guarin made his debut in an Inter jersey, replacing Dejan Stankovic. A Cambiasso curler was just wide and Milito rolled across for a Forlan fresh-air shot.
Inter added a fourth with Zarate’s stunning solo effort. He curled a wonderful finish from the outside left edge of the box into the far bottom corner past Frey’s flailing hand.
It still wasn’t over, though, as Palacio sprung the offside trap in the final third and was clear on goal when tripped by Julio Cesar. The penalty and red card for the Inter goalkeeper were inevitable. This time Gilardino took the spot-kick and buried it in the near bottom corner past the hand of substitute Luca Castellazzi.
However, 10-man Inter earned a penalty of their own with debutant Guarin. Replays show Belluschi’s sliding tackle appeared to be clean, but he was still sent off and the referee pointed to the spot. Milito went up to complete his hat-trick, leaving Frey rooted to the spot.
This never-ending match just kept adding drama, as Lucio was penalised for a high foot on Sculli and Gilardino converted yet another penalty to make it 5-4.
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Sent off: Julio Cesar 78 (I), Belluschi 84 (G)