The Nerazzurri made it seven wins on the bounce in all competitions without ever having to move out of second gear against their game but desperately ineffective Ligurian rivalsInter progressed to the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia with a relatively comfortable 2-1 victory over Genoa at the Giuseppe Meazza on Thursday night.
The Nerazzurri never came even remotely close to hitting top form but still managed to make it seven successive victories in all competitions thanks to a stunning early strike from Maicon and a fine volleyed finish from Andrea Poli, with Valter Birsa's injury-time goal proving nothing more than a consolation strike for the game but horribly limited visitors.
Coming four days after the Derby della Madonnina and with both sides having made a raft of changes to their respective line-ups, the game began in a predictably subdued and low-key atmosphere.
However, Maicon punctuated the early tedium with a goal of the utmost quality, the Brazilian full-back finding the top-left corner of the Genoa goal with an unstoppable 30-yard drive with the outside of his right foot, a strike made all the more remarkable for the staggeringly low back-lift with which it had been executed.
Both sides would have been hard pressed to produce a comparable moment of skill during the remainder of the match, but what followed was desperately disappointing nonetheless.
Genoa played some tidy football at times but never threatened the Inter goal, while the hosts struggled to hold on to the ball for any great period of time, with Wesley Sneijder surprisingly wasteful in possession.
The Netherlands international did produce the Nerazzurri’s only other shot of note during the opening 45 minutes, which Cristiano Lupatelli got down well to parry away to safety, but Sneijder squandered a number of other promising openings with poor either poor control or poor decision-making.
Luckily for Sneijder, Poli proved far more clinical when he was presented with a chance to double Inter’s advantage, the on-loan Sampdoria midfielder volleying into the bottom corner after a terrific one-two on the edge of the area with Joel Obi.
Credit to Sneijder, he did look more like his old self as the game wore on and he curled narrowly wide after turning Alberto Marchiori on the edge of the area before slipping the ball through the legs of Mario Sampirisi.
Genoa had shown little attacking threat up until that point, with Lucas Pratto having wasted their best opening just after the break when he fluffed his header after being picked out by Birsa.
The Ligurians did make things ever so slightly interesting when Birsa fired home in the second minute of added time after Pratto had headed against the bar, but they had left it too late to prevent Inter from setting up an intriguing quarter-final clash with Napoli.