The clinical Argentine hits a treble in an extraordinary encounter which sees the new Nerazzurri coach get off to the best possible start
This was a match that had everything: goals, fine attacking football, controversy, red cards and numerous penalties.
Inter struck through a Diego Milito hat-trick as Walter Samuel and Mauro Zarate also got on the score sheet. Genoa’s goals came from Rodrigo Palacio and a brace of penalties from Alberto Gilardino.
The match was a case of two halves, with Inter looking rejuvenated in the first but falling into defensive frailities of old in the second. On reflection, they did, however, deserve victory in what was Andrea Stramaccioni’s first match in charge.
Newly appointed coach Stramaccioni sprung a surprise with his team selection, giving Mauro Zarate a rare start. The Argentine lined up in an all-South American attack, complimented by Diego Forlan and top goal scorer, Diego Milito.
Meanwhile, Genoa tactician Pasquale Marino led his side into action as they looked to end their winless run of eight.
The match began with a high intensity, as both sides traded blows and attacked at will.
Surprise inclusion Zarate looked particularly bright, cutting in from the right to fire just wide of Sebastien Frey’s near post, while Rodrigo Palacio looked threatening for the visitors.
Genoa came closest to opening the scoring with Giuseppe Sculli rising high only to have his header cleared off the line by Esteban Cambiasso. The home side looked vulnerable from corners but managed to keep the opposition at bay.
With 13 minutes gone, the deadlock was finally broken in what was a pulsating encounter.
The goal involved all of the Inter forwards, with Zarate beginning the move and finding Forlan who had plenty of time to pick out a cross and find Milito who applied the finishing touch which gave Stramaccioni the dream start. Out of respect, the former Genoa striker didn’t celebrate.
The hosts could have doubled their advantage shortly after but Cambiasso’s header failed to trouble Frey, following smart play from Lucio.
Inter continued to apply the pressure on the Grifoni and this told just before the half-hour mark, as Dejan Stankovic’s speculative long ball over the top completely exposed the Genoa defence, and in particular ex-Milan player Kahka Kaladze who got the assisting flick-on that sent Milito through on goal to coolly double his side’s lead.
The Genoa defence were collectively having a torrid afternoon and it got even worse in the 38th minute. Sloppy defending saw Lucio fire across the face of goal into a melee that evaded the visitors’ defence once again and defensive stalwart Walter Samuel converted the simplest of chances into an empty net.
As the first-half drew to a close, Genoa finally exposed the Nerazzurri’s vulnerability from set-pieces as Giuseppe Sculli was again denied by a Cambiasso clearance, only for his acrobatic follow-up to take a wild deflection off Emiliano Morretti which gave the visitors a boost going into the remaining half.
The second-half started much like the first, with a rich vein of attacking football on display from both sides.
Alberto Gilardino came close for the visitors but his unchallenged effort was comfortably smothered by Julio Cesar, but this served as a warning to Stramaccioni and his side.
Genoa continued to assert themselves in the Inter half and their persistent bombardment resulted in yet another game changing moment.
Sculli, who had made himself a nuisance all afternoon in the air, saw his header handled by Inter captain Javier Zanetti leaving the referee no choice but to award a spot kick for the visitors. From the resulting penalty, Palacio slotted home to reduce his side’s arrears to just one goal leaving the natives restless.
However, the match once again swung in the Nerazzuri’s favour as Mauro Zarate stepped inside Giandomenico Mesto with ease to strike into the far right hand corner leaving Frey helpless.
This restored Inter’s two goal advantage but their defensive frailties remained. With twelve minutes remaining, a piercing ball cut the home side’s defence with ease as Rodrigo Palacio looked to round Julio Cesar only for the Brazilian to bring down the forward. This saw the home goalkeeper receive his marching orders.
Inter sacrificed Zarate for Luca Castellazzi and the young goalkeeper was unlucky not to stop Alberto Gilardino’s penalty, claiming a hand onto the spot kick.
Further chaos ensued in the Genoa half as a moment of madness saw Fernando Belluschi lunge at substitute Fredy Guarin, as the defender received a red and his marching orders. Milito stepped up to send Frey the wrong way and complete his hat-trick.
Stramaccioni breathed a huge sigh of relief, but this wasn’t the end of the action.
Genoa won yet another penalty, as Lucio charged inexplicably into Sculli. Gilardino again stepped up to emphatically convert his spot-kick, this time down the middle to score the ninth goal of the contest.
The closing moments of the match saw Inter hurry and hassle their opponents, and this was enough to secure victory and begin their march up the Serie A table.