It goes from bad to worse for Inter, who lost in Palermo and saw Javier Zanetti stretchered off with a serious injury, but the Rosanero boost their survival prospects.
The Sicilians were desperate for points, as they were stuck in the relegation zone, but welcomed back Fabrizio Miccoli from injury. Andrea Dossena sat out a ban with Andrea Mantovani injured. Inter scraped a win over Parma last week, but the absentee list extended further with Walter Samuel joining Rodrigo Palacio, Diego Milito, Antonio Cassano, Walter Gargano, Fredy Guarin and more on the treatment table.
Javier Zanetti wore the same captain’s armband that he had given to Pope Francis in a special meeting earlier this week.
Miccoli tested Samir Handanovic from a Santiago Garcia pull-back after six minutes, while Stefano Sorrentino had his palms stung by a rare Zanetti snapshot.
It was the Rosanero who broke through with Josip Ilicic’s fifth consecutive goal. Matias Silvestre was given a rare start against his old club and gifted Palermo with the opener. He was all at sea when dispossessed inside the penalty area by Miccoli, allowing Ilicic to fire in from the edge of the box.
Handanovic parried a Miccoli free kick, but there was even worse news for the Nerazzurri as Zanetti was stretchered off with an ankle injury following a seemingly innocuous collision with Salvatore Aronica.
There were appeals for a Palermo penalty when Silvestre handled in the box, but it was clearly flicked on to his arm by Miccoli and could not get out of the way.
Ricky Alvarez chested down a cross and volleyed it just wide of the near post, then Handanovic got down to parry a Miccoli counter-attack.
After the restart Jonathan tested Sorrentino and Andrea Ranocchia crucially stopped Aronica tapping in at the back post, while Massimo Donati drilled just wide.
Silvestre nodded an Alvaro Pereira corner off target and Steve Von Bergen almost accidentally charged down a powerful Alvarez shot with his face.
Handanovic flew to palm a stunning Miccoli left-footed half-volley out of the far top corner. Palermo Coach Giuseppe Sannino was among several members of the two benches sent off for dissent, while Ilicic hobbled off with an injury.
Alvarez fired on to the roof of the net, then moments later blasted inches over from a tight angle.
Abel Hernandez could’ve added a second in the final minutes, but the angled drive whistled inches past Handanovic’s fingertips and the back post.