Inter’s run ends at 10 wins on the trot, as they were surprisingly beaten 3-2 in Bergamo with German Denis bagging a brace.
The Nerazzurri were looking for an 11th consecutive victory, both in general and away from home, after ending the 49-match Juventus unbeaten run last week. The last time they failed to win in all competitions was September 23 against Siena.
However, an injury crisis ruled out Wesley Sneijder, Philippe Coutinho, Dejan Stankovic, Cristian Chivu, Walter Samuel, Andrea Ranocchia, Joel Obi, MacDonald Mariga and Gaby Mudingayi. Atalanta are local rivals to the Milan clubs, but for this game were without Ivan Radovanovic, Ivan Capelli, Ferreira Pinto, Mattia Scozzarella and Giampaolo Bellini. German Denis was again supported by Maxi Moralez and Giacomo Bonaventura.
Perhaps trying to surprise Atalanta, the official Inter website listed the system as 3-4-3 with Esteban Cambiasso in defence, but instead the same players came out in a 4-3-2-1.
It was Atalanta who took a surprise lead after nine minutes with on-form winger Bonaventura. Federico Peluso whipped in a cross from the left and Bonaventura was allowed a free header into the ground and towards the far post.
Denis nearly made it 2-0, as his volley was into Samir Handanovic’s arms and Maxi Moralez – the shortest player in Serie A – sent a diving header wide.
Cristian Raimondi missed an easy clearance, allowing Antonio Cassano through, but Andrea Consigli kept his cool to push the ball off his foot without causing a penalty.
Consigli was again decisive, as a corner was knocked on by Matias Silvestre for Cambiasso’s header that the goalkeeper parried from point-blank range.
Inter almost scored an own goal, as Denis hesitated and Cambiasso prodded it off his foot, a deflection off teammate Juan Jesus rolling wide for a corner.
Denis incredibly failed to make it 2-0 on 34 minutes, as Schelotto rolled across for the unmarked Tanque who somehow ballooned over an open goal from six yards undisturbed!
Cassano chipped up an inspired assist for Palacio’s bullet header, but Consigli again performed a fantastic reaction save at the near post.
At the other end, Luca Cigarini unleashed a sudden rocket that whistled inches wide with Handanovic rooted to the spot.
After the restart Consigli again fingertipped a Fredy Guarin daisy-cutter round the base of the upright. Rodrigo Palacio was furious and left with a bleeding nose after a tussle with Raimondi, but the referee judged it to be an accident, as they were wrestling each other.
Cassano’s free kick was over the bar, but Guarin took the next one and it was a ground-to-air missile into the near top corner. Consigli got a hand to it, but the shot was simply too powerful to redirect.
However, the momentum was immediately shattered as Atalanta restored their advantage. Moralez sprung the offside trap from Cigarini’s pass and rolled across for Denis to tap in from six yards.
Inter poured forward, but Moralez sprung the offside trap again and went to dribble round Matias Silvestre, prompting the referee to point to the spot. However, replays suggest he got the ball. Denis converted by sending Handanovic the wrong way and giving Atalanta a two-goal cushion. It was the first penalty awarded to the Orobici this season.
Maxi Moralez nearly got a fourth on the counter, but his first touch let him down after a poor clearance. Substitute Facundo Parra had a great chance set up by Schelotto too, but Handanovic used all his height to flap it out for a corner.
Palacio had a terrible night, but pulled one out of the hat to get Inter back into the game. He gathered a smart Walter Gargano through ball and smashed his strike across Consigli into the far top corner.
The referee flashed a straight red card at Atalanta substitute Parra when he clattered into the back of Guarin during a counter-attack. However, again it looked as if the referee was harsh, because there was at most a little shove to move him out of the way.
Deep into stoppages Guarin’s screamer was deflected wide for a corner and even Handanovic went up for the final kick with Atalanta desperately hanging on. Handanovic got the header, but also crashed into his goalkeeping colleague for a foul.
Sent off: Parra 93 (A)