Esteban Cambiasso fought back to give Inter a slender point at home to Genoa, but Marko Livaja missed from a yard!
The Nerazzurri’s Scudetto hopes took a hammering with last week’s 1-0 defeat to Lazio, so a result was sorely needed to close the seven-point gap at the top of the table. Genoa looked like the ideal victims after one win and a draw in Gigi Del Neri’s nine games in charge. Fredy Guarin was suspended, joining the injured Dejan Stankovic, Joel Obi, Gaby Mudingayi, Yuto Nagatomo and Luca Castellazzi. Emiliano Moretti and Felipe Seymour sat out bans, joining Cesare Bovo, Cristobal Jorquera and Bosko Jankovic, while Marco Borriello was dropped following yesterday’s blazing row with director Rino Foschi.
This was a special fixture for Andrea Stramaccioni, who made his Serie A debut in an epic 5-4 Inter victory over Genoa on April 1, while Diego Milito and Rodrigo Palacio faced their former club. The Grifone last conquered San Siro in 1994, followed by seven defeats and two draws in all competition.
Sebastien Frey performed a bizarre save feet first when Palacio went clear on an Antonio Cassano ball over the top. At the other end, Juraj Kucka shinned into the air from a promising position.
Andrea Ranocchia was booked and will be suspended for the first game of 2013 against Udinese.
Genoa had a great chance on 29 minutes when Andrea Bertolacci’s disguised pass set up Ciro Immobile on the edge of the box, forcing a one-handed save out of Samir Handanovic.
Play had to be halted for a few minutes, as the linesman’s flag needed repairs, but during that break Cassano went to say hello to his former Sampdoria Coach Del Neri. Alvarez was also carrying a thigh problem and had to make way for Alvaro Pereira.
Juan Manuel Vargas wasted a golden opportunity, as he tried to shoot when Marco Rossi was totally unmarked in the middle. The former Fiorentina winger also blasted over from just outside the box.
There was another substitution after the break, as Cristian Chivu replaced Juan Jesus for his Serie A debut this season. The Romanian, who was out for four months with a serious toe injury, had made his comeback in the Coppa Italia midweek. It was a change of system with Chivu in midfield, moving Javier Zanetti and Alvaro Pereira to full-backs.
Straight after the restart, Palacio burst forward on to a Milito through ball only to blast over the bar. Palacio again sprung the offside trap from a Milito assist, but his chest and strike on the volley was brilliantly beaten away by Frey at the near post, then Milito fired the follow-up off target.
Handanovic bravely flung himself at Rossi’s feet to stop him turning in a Kucka ball over the top from six yards, getting a knee in the face for his trouble.
Bertolacci limped off with cramp and Handanovic again had to react quickly to palm a dangerous Giammario Piscitella pass off the foot of Immobile from close range.
There had been warnings and Genoa took the lead with Immobile, who sprung the offside trap down the left and beat Ranocchia in a one-on-one to beat Handanovic with a fierce left-foot angled drive. The Neapolitan Under-21 international reacted angrily in his celebrations, urging the previously jeering Genoa fans to stay quiet.
Stramaccioni threw on Marko Livaja for midfielder Walter Gargano, so there were four strikers on the field. Ranocchia’s header from a corner was just over the bar, while Immobile’s first touch let him down on another counter-attack.
Inter poured forward and it was Esteban Cambiasso who drew level with a precise header at the near post from six yards for his second goal of the season. Cassano had whipped in the cross from the left.
The Nerazzurri were now desperate to turn it around in the final five minutes, but Palacio’s first touch was poor and from the corner Frey grabbed Ranocchia’s header.
Livaja incredibly failed to score at the 90th minute, as Milito put the ball across the face of goal that only had to be tapped in, but it was thumped against the post from a couple of yards! It then ricocheted off Palacio back out where it was again fired off target.
Genoa replaced substitute Anselmo after just 20 minutes on the field and Daniel Tozser’s free kick daisy-cutter whistled past the post, while Cambiasso shinned a volley well wide. With the last kick of the game, Alvaro Pereira needed a crucial tackle to stop Kucka on the counter.