Andrea Stramaccioni's men broke the jinx of winning in Milan at long last, with this latest victory boosting their climb back into the top of Serie A.Inter ended its San Zero hoodoo by storming to a 2-1 home victory over Vincenzo Montella's Fiorentina on Sunday thanks to goals from Diego Milito and Antonio Cassano, although the match should have finished a landslide victory to the home side, save for some profligate finishing.
Searching for the team's first win of the season in Milan, Andrea Stramaccioni sent out the same three-man back line that served him well against Chievo earlier during the week. The Nerazzurri's formation mirrored the 3-5-2 sent out by the visiting team.
Philippe Coutinho, handed a rare start in place of regular playmaker Wesley Sneijder, appeared to particularly relish his chances early on, some promising play down the left with Yuto Nagatomo allowing the Brazilian to deliver Inter's first ball of the night into the Viola box, only for stopper Facundo Roncaglia proving equal to the task, solidly heading clear.
Cassano had been looking bright after making a summer switch over from cross-town rival AC Milan, this time bombing down the left flank to create an opening for Coutinho, although Gonzalo Rodriguez stood strong in the middle to intercept play. The 28-year-old signing from Villarreal was to go from hero to villain shortly after though, as a cross from compatriot Javier Zanetti came off the Argentine defenders arm, leaving referee Antonio Giannoccaro with no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Evergreen striker Milito stepped up to bury the ball into the bottom left corner of the net with aplomb, sparking wild celebrations from Zanetti and company in the 17th minute.
The goal visibly eased the home side's nerves, as Inter began looking increasingly likely to seize on mistakes conceded by Fiorentina's creaking defense every time the club lost the ball in the center. Viola talisman Stevan Jovetic kept opposing custodian Samir Handanovic on his toes with a free kick that came off the post in the 21st minute however.
Straightforward, one-way traffic was summarized as Milito conspired to miss not one, but two, easy chances to double his team's lead. The 33-year-old flicked a searching Cassano pass over the head of Roncaglia only to volley against the crossbar, then had the San Siro faithful gasping in disbelief as he fired straight at the imposing Viviano after being slipped through one-on-one by his strike partner.
Cassano ensured his teammates would not have to wait long though, as his 90th Serie A goal, and fourth in his five Nerazzurri appearances, sparked emphatic cheers from onlooking spectators. A beautifully executed dummy from midfield lynchpin Esteban Cambiasso allowed the ball to roll across to the Euro 2012 finalist, who made no mistake by wrong-footing Viviano from close range.
A consolatory header from Romulo in the 41st minute, finishing from David Pizzaro's cross, proved scant distraction from the fact the season's surprise package so far had been comprehensively outplayed, as Fiorentina headed down the tunnel with a temporary respite to whistle up a fightback. Montella subsequently introduced Matias Fernandez in place of the ineffective Adem Ljajic.
The substitution appeared to galvanize the visitors, as they controlled the opening minutes of the second period in vice-like manner. Only a silly second booking on the part of Rodriguez, and the customary sending-off, undid the visitors good work, as they contained their more illustrious counterparts in ways more effective than those seen earlier during the evening.
Milito missed another sitter after heading a cross straight at Viviano from six yards out, as Inter begin shoring up the lead with the introduction of workhorse Gaby Mudingayi. As Fiorentina begin running out of steam, in the acknowledgement that they were one man down, the match slowed to stolid, dour tactical proceedings, neither team opting to undertake risks of similar nature that so set the initial 45 minutes alight.
The credible victory for the San Siro outfit now lifts them to third, just four points behind front-runners Juventus and Napoli, while Fiorentina remain in a respectable eighth position.
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