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Inter 3-1 Atalanta: Hosts Come From Behind To Reclaim Top Spot

Inter 3-1 Atalanta: Hosts Come From Behind To Reclaim Top Spot

The Orobici remain in the relegation zone...

Inter came from behind to beat Atalanta at the Giuseppe Meazza on Saturday evening. Simone Tiribocchi had put the Orobici in front early on but Diego Milito, McDonald Mariga and Cristian Chivu secured the three points for the hosts.

The Nerazzurri were far from being at full strength, with the likes of Esteban Cambiasso, Lucio and Walter Samuel being rested for the clash, and the Orobici looked to take advantage as they tried to take the game to the hosts early on.

After only five minutes, it had paid off as Thomas Manfredini slid a ball through that caught Marco Materazzi asleep, and Tiribocchi latched onto it and powered the ball past Julio Cesar. Barely two minutes later, the striker was given a free header from a set piece but he couldn't hit the target.

Ten minutes in, the Nerazzurri's defence was caught on the hop again as a Jaime Valdes cross found Cristiano Doni in the area but the striker couldn't quite turn to get a shot away. It was 21 minutes before Inter finally fashioned a chance when the already-booked Paolo Bianco conceded a foul 25 yards out. Wesley Sneijder stepped up to take the free kick, but it was straight into the wall.

It was a warning sign for the visitors, and some calamitous defending allowed Inter to level the scores. Bianco's attempt at clearing Sneijder's pass only sent the ball into the path of Milito who nonchalantly chipped the ball over the advancing Ferdinando Coppola and into the corner.

Moments later a poor clearance from Manfredini should have resulted in a second goal for the Nerazzurri but Samuel Eto'o dragged his shot so far wide it went out for a throw in. Nonetheless it was another sign of Inter's growing dominance in the match. Fortune favoured the visitors when the ball dropped at the feet of Ivan Cordoba from a corner on the half hour, but the defender's shot cannoned off a team-mate and it looped wide for a goal kick.

Ten minutes before the break, they were not so fortunate. The Nerazzurri swept down the left hand side with Sneijder before the Dutchman slid Eto'o into space in the penalty area. The striker kept his head up and cut the ball back through a crowd of players for Mariga to sidefoot home into the back of the net.

The Nerazzurri were now really hitting their stride and Sneijder almost caught out Coppola with a delicate chip from the edge of the box but couldn't quite get the height on the shot. Both Cordoba and Eto'o had chances to score Inter's third of the game towards the end of the first half, but they still held the lead at the break.

Atalanta were inches away from drawing level less than a minute after half-time when Cordoba's header fell nicely for Tiberio Guarente but his powerful volley grazed the bar as it flew over. Manfredini then brought a good save from Julio Cesar with a shot from 30 yards as the visitors re-enacted the first half by pressing early on.

Bertolo Mutti tried to reverse his ailing side's fortunes by changing to a 4-3-3 system, but their attacking emphasis left them open in defence. Manfredini was forced to bring down Eto'o after 63 minutes on the edge of the box, but the striker couldn't get his effort on target.

Five minutes later, Dejan Stankovic combined well with Milito as the Nerazzurri counter-attacked, and the Argentine pulled the ball back for Sulley Muntari to strike a shot from the edge of the area but Coppola made a good save to keep the ball out.

Inter were showing no signs of letting up and were seeking a third goal to consolidate their lead, and Coppola had to get down quickly to his left to save Thiago Motta's 20-yard shot 15 minutes from time.

The fourth goal of the game came moments later, and it was scored by the most unlikely of candidates when Chivu received the ball 25 yards from goal before unleashing a fierce shot that flew past the Orobici shot-stopper into the right hand corner.

Atalanta were unable to find any way of getting back into the match in the final moments, despite the brave tactical shift by Mutti, and the defeat keeps them in the relegation zone while Inter reclaim top spot from Roma, who play Sampdoria on Sunday.

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