Milan-based side strengthens grip on second place by garnering three points at home over the visitors from FlorenceInter defeated Fiorentina 3-1 with goals from Giampaolo Pazzini, Esteban Cambiasso, and Coutinho at San Siro to put further hold on its second place position in Serie A in the wake of rivals AC Milan securing the title.
Coach Leonardo had to deal with a number of injuries, including to star midfielders Wesley Sneijder and Dejan Stankovic, utilizing Coutinho and Houssine Kharja in their absence. He also obviously had the second leg of the club's Coppa Italia semifinal with Roma in mind as Lucio was rested with Marco Materazzi as his replacement. Pazzini earned a starting berth after his late brace against Cesena one week ago.
Meanwhile, Sinisa Mihajlovic only made one change to the lineup that defeated Udinese 5-2 with Cesare Natali at center back instead of Per Kroldrup.
The Viola nearly caused an early shock as Alberto Gilardino made contact with Alessio Cerci's whipped in ball and volleyed an effort off the crossbar from close range with Julio Cesar seemingly beaten on 10 minutes.
Inter repaid the favor just one minute later. Pazzini received the ball inside the area and turned Alessandro Gamberini before smashing a shot which was tipped onto the crossbar by Artur Boruc in a very open first phase of the game.
Pazzini eventually did get a goal against his former team to make it 1-0 half way through the first half. Samuel Eto'o beat two defenders with some close control on the left side of the area before finding a gap to feed the Italian, who did well to hold off Natali and fire low into the far corner.
It took no time at all for Inter to double the lead. Eto'o whipped in a freekick and Cambiasso rose above the lackadaisical marking of Manuel Pasqual to head home leaving the visitors with a mountain to climb.
The hosts should have made it three goals on the stroke of halftime as Maicon arrived at the end of a flowing move that involved Eto'o, Kharja, and Coutinho, however Boruc made a fantastic kick save to keep Mihajlovic's side within touching distance.
Fiorentina began the second half with more energy in its search for goals as Gilardino somehow failed to score from six yards after moving past Andrea Ranocchia in the area, but he prodded wide from a position where he certainly should have scored.
Both coaches made changes to their attacks with Goran Pandev replacing Eto'o and Adrian Mutu coming on for the ineffective Gaetano D'Agostino.
Leonardo looked to close out the win by adding youngster Joel Obi, though Fiorentina pulled one back. Gilardino made up for his earlier miss with a run straight through the defense and a powerful finish on 74 minutes.
Inter restored the two goal cushion from a set piece. Coutinho's effort from over 20 yards curled over the wall and into the bottom corner to ensure the victory, despite Fiorentina failing to take advantage of Lucio's error that sent Mutu on the break in the dying moments.
The three points took president Massimo Moratti's side four points ahead of third placed Napoli as the visitors remained in mid table.
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