Argentine strikes clinical treble in extraordinary encounter which sees new home 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, while 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 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.
With 13 minutes gone, the deadlock was been broken. 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.
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. Ex- AC Milan player Kahka Kaladze got an unfortunate flick on that sent Milito through on goal to coolly double his side’s lead.
The Genoa back line were collectively having a torrid afternoon and this got even worse in the 38th minute. Sloppy defending saw Lucio fire across the face of goal into a melee that saw defensive stalwart Samuel convert the simplest of chances into an empty net.
As the first-half drew to a close, the complexity of the match changed somewhat. 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 Moretti which gave the visitors a much-needed boost.
The second half started with Alberto Gilardino coming close for the visitors, and although his unchallenged effort was comfortably smothered by Julio Cesar, 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 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 12 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 keeper was unlucky not to stop Gilardino’s penalty, claiming a hand onto the spot kick, but the ball made its way over the line.
Further chaos ensued in the Genoa half as a moment of madness saw Fernando Belluschi lunge at substitute Fredy Guarin, the defender receiving a straight red. 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.