21.02.09 / 18:04
BOLOGNA - No messing around in Bologna. Those were the orders from José Mourinho, and the Nerazzurri obliged with a 2-1 victory that sees us move a massive twelve points clear at the top with the chasing pack still to play their Week 25 fixtures.
Esteban Cambiasso capped a period of pressure with the opening goal early after the restart but Bologna fought back and got their reward ten minutes from time when Britos snatched an equaliser. But Mario Balotelli came off the bench and restored Inter's lead within a minute with a magnificent curling free kick.
Mourninho chose to rest Dejan Stankovic and advance Sulley Muntari to the playmaker position for Satuday afternoon's clash at the Dall'Ara, with Maxwell alongside Cambiasso and Zanetti in an all-South American midfield.
But the Nerazzurri suffered a set-back in the warm-up phase when Walter Samuel pulled up with a left-calf injury. Nelson Rivas took his place in the starting lineup with Mancini the extra sub on the bench.
Bologna boss Sinisa Mihajlovic kept faith with the 4-5-1 lineup that held Napoli 1-1 last weekend, Marco Di Vaio the Rossoblu's lone striker.
Referee Nicola Ayroldi got proceedings under way after a moving minute's silence in memory of Bologna and Azzurri legend Giacomo Bulgarelli, and Inter produced a series of early chances as Antonioli made saves from Ibrahimovic and Santon.
The Bologna goalkeeper then denied Muntari, narrowing the angle to force the Ghana midfielder to shoot over after an intelligent through pass from Ibrahimovic.
Julio Cesar was a spectator for much of the first half but, as always, was prepared. The Brazilian blocked Zenoni's arrowed shot after a rare sortie by Bologna, moving quickly to thwart Di Vaio before the break.
Volpi went close to what would have been a spectacular equaliser in time added on, his curling free kick sailing narrowly wide of the back post.
Mourinho threw on Stankovic for Muntari at the start of the second period and Inter asserted their superiority. Cambiasso broke the deadlock twelve minutes in, latching on to Adriano's headed assist from Maicon's cross and hooking into the net.
Julio Cesar made last-gasp saves from Mingazzini and Marazzina as Bologna reacted strongly, but there was nothing he could do to keep out Uruguayan defender Britos' downwards header into the far corner in the 80th minute.
But the Nerazzurri weren't messing around and Mario Balotelli came off the bench to curl a left-wing free kick into the bottom right corner.
Inter survived a late surge from the Rossoblu and Di Vaio should have done better from close range in the last minute but found a Julio Cesar on top of his game.
Bologna 1-2 Inter (HT: 0-0)
Scorers: Cambiasso 57, Britos 80, Balotelli 82.
Bologna: 1 Antonioli; 21 Zenoni, 18 Moras, 6 Britos, 23 Lanna; 7 Valiani (41 Marazzina ), 26 Mudingayi, 8 Mingazzini, 5 Volpi, 10 Bombardini (20 Adailton 78); 9 Di Vaio.
Subs not used: 15 Colombo, 4 Amoroso, 19 Terzi, 25 Mutarelli, 84 Balleri.
Coach: Sinisa Mihajlovic.
Inter: 12 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 2 Cordoba, 24 Rivas, 39 Santon; 4 Zanetti, 19 Cambiasso, 6 Maxwell (45 Balotelli 81); 20 Muntari (5 Stankovic 46); 8 Ibrahimovic, 10 Adriano (14 Vieira 78).
Subs not used: 1 Toldo, 7 Figo, 9 Cruz, 33 Mancini.
Coach: José Mourinho.
Referee: Nicola Ayroldi (Molfetta).
Booked: Moras 31, Zenoni 81, Rivas 83.