Inter welcomed Lazio at San Siro hoping to keep new runners-up Milan at a safe distance ahead of the final part of the season. Coach Jose Mourinho opted for a 4-3-2-1 formation with Luis Figo and Amantino Mancini behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic up front, while Lazio played in a 4-4-2 line up with Mauro Zarate and Tommaso Rocchi in attack.
The champions started the game well and had a couple of chances in the opening minutes. Following a corner kick for the home side in the first minute, Esteban Cambiasso found Mancini unmarked in the area, but from a difficult position he could not get a shot on target.
The next minute, Figo made a good run on the right and sent in a dangerous cross that was missed by goalkeeper Fernando Muslera, but no Inter player was on hand to take advantage.
In the 7th minute, Lazio responded as Rocchi and Zarate played a nice one-two that gave the Italian a chance to shoot in front of Julio Cesar, who came up with an alert save.
Inter struggled to take control of the match overall, as they often resorted to long balls, but they came close in the 22nd minute, when Ibrahimovic headed the ball inches wide on a cross by Figo.
Four minutes later, Lazio defender Aleksandar Kolarov fired a powerful shot from distance that went just wide, although Julio Cesar had the angle covered.
On the half hour mark, Sulley Muntari missed a good chance for Inter on a counterattack, as he played the ball forward to Ibrahimovic, who in turn crossed it back into the area for the Ghanaian, who headed the ball wide from a very good position.
Toward the end of the first half, the home side started to struggle and Julio Cesar had to come in action on more than one occasion. In the 36th minute, Zarate fired a mean shot from the edge of the area which was parried away for a corner by the Brazilian keeper.
The first half finished on a goalless draw that reflected an uneventful first half with few chances for both teams.
The teams came back on the pitch unchanged from the first half. Lazio continued to look more comfortable at the start, and in th 48th minute Zarate tried to make a run into the area, but forgot about the ball and lost it to Samuel.
Out of nothing, though, it was Inter who took the lead ten minutes later, as Ibrahimovic responded to some sections of the crowd who had started to jeer him by taking a shot from the edge of the area, after dribbling past David Rozenhal, and beat Muslera with a precise effort toward the corner of the net.
The Nerazzurri looked more comfortable after that, and seemed in control of the proceedings while Lazio looked tired. However, in the 68th minute there was a chance for the visitors, as Rocchi tried to volley in a long ball by Pasquale Foggia, but sent it wide.
Two minutes later Inter doubled their lead, once again thanks to some great play by Ibrahimovic, who played a great pass into the area while under pressure from Lazio’s defence, and found Muntari, who made it 2-0 with a low shot.
In the final part of the match, the home side comfortably controlled the match, and did not feel like pushing forward for a third goal. Ibrahimovic continued to look nervous though, and in the 85th minute he got himself booked after a tussle with Matuzalem, which means he will miss the next match against Chievo.
In the final minutes there were a number of yellow cards for both sides, but in the end Inter won’t care too much as they secured a crucial victory that brings them 10 points clear of Milan ahead of their match against Catania tomorrow, virtually ending the Scudetto race.
Inter (4-3-2-1): Julio Cesar; Santon (56’ Vieira), Cordoba, Samuel, Chivu;, Zanetti, Cambiasso, Muntari (74’ Burdisso); Figo, Mancini (56’ Crespo); Ibrahimovic. Coach: Mourinho.
Lazio (4-4-2): Muslera; Siviglia, Radu, Rozenhal, Kolarov; Brocchi, Ledesma, Matuzalem, Del Nero (62’ Foggia); Zarate (84’ Kozac), Rocchi. Coach: Rossi.
Goals: 58’ Ibrahimovic (I), 70’ Muntari (I)
Booked: Samuel, Vieira, Ibrahimovic, Chivu (I); Del Nero, Matuzalem, Ledesma (L)