MILAN - Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a wonder goal and Adriano converted a spot kick as the Nerazzurri saw off Bologna at the Giuseppe Meazza to join Lazio on the top of the table ahead of Sunday's fixtures.
The Swedish ace brilliantly backheeled home in the first half after a cross from Adriano, with the Brazilian stroking home his penalty right after the restart to put Inter in control. Bologna reopened the match through Evangelos Moras but Inter held out for victory after an end-to-end second half.
Mourinho made numerous changes to the team that drew with Werder Bremen in midweek, starting with Adriano and Ibrahimovic up front, Quaresma and Mancini on the wings, and Muntari and Vieira in the middle. With Materazzi and Burdisso suspended and Chivu not fully fit, the Inter coach paired Colombians Cordoba and Rivas in the centre of defence.
Bologna's Sergio Volpi shot wide and had another effort saved in the opening minutes but Inter were soon on top and Antonioli twice saved from Ibrahimovic before Quaresma went close, only for his shot to take a deflection.
Quick-thinking Ibra broke the deadlock in the 25th minute, stunning Antonioli with an irresistible backheeled goal from Adriano's left-wing cross to celebrate his 27th birthday a day late.
Inter could have been three-nil up by the break but Antonioli blocked Vieira's close-range effort from Ibra's splendid through ball, before tipping Quaresma's inswinging corner on to the far post in stoppage time.
Mourinho's men looked to have sewn up victory five minutes into the second half when Adriano sent Antonioli the wrong way from the penalty spot after Volpi handled Mancini's cross from the right.
But Bologna fought back and reduced the gap through Evangelos Moras, who fired in from just yards out after a moment of indecision between Zanetti and Cordoba.
An entertaining second half saw Maicon hit the upright with a cross-shot and substitute Stankovic test Antonioli with two cracking shots.
Nigerian forward Nsofor Victor Obinna came on for his Inter debut in the final minutes and almost brought the house down when he shot wide after setting up a counter-attack.
Ibrahimovic should have restored his team's two-goal cushion in overtime but crashed his low shot wide with Obinna lurking in space.
Inter 2-1 Bologna (HT: 1-0)
Scorers: Ibrahimovic 25, Adriano (pen) 50, Moras 56.
Inter: 12 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 2 Cordoba, 24 Rivas (19 Cambiasso 73), 4 Zanetti; 77 Quaresma (21 Obinna 88), 14 Vieira, 20 Muntari, 33 Mancini (5 Stankovic 74); 10 Adriano, 8 Ibrahimovic.
Subs not used: 1 Toldo, 9 Cruz, 25 Samuel, 36 Bolzoni.
Coach: José Mourinho.
Bologna: 1 Antonioli; 2 Marchini (77 Coelho 79), 19 Terzi, 18 Moras, 10 Bombardini; 26 Mudingayi, 5 Volpi (41 Marazzina 64); 20 Adailton (21 Zenoni 63), 4 Amoroso, 7 Valiani; 9 Di Vaio.
Subs not used: 15 Colombo, 6 Britos, 8 Mingazzini, 23 Lanna.
Coach: Daniele Arrigoni.
Referee: Maurizio Ciampi (Rome).
Booked: Cordoba 36, Quaresma 57, Marchini 69, Moras 80.