MILAN - Samuel Eto'o scored a second-half stunner and his strike partner Diego Milito added a cheeky goal as Inter saw off a gritty Parma at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.
The Cameroonian striker's goal - straight out of the top drawer - came at just the right time, with frustration setting in after seventy goalless minutes.
Two minutes short of the ninety, Il Principe tucked home Balotelli's cross to make sure of the points.
Chivu and Stankovic returned from international duty with the flu, forcing José Mourinho to make two changes to the team that beat AC Milan 4-0 a fortnight ago. Santon slotted in at left-back while Vieira patrolled the right side of midfield with Zanetti filling the central role.
Eleven minutes into the match Inter had two quick chances to take the lead. Sneijder latched on to Eto'o's deflected cross and saw his snapshot parried by Mirante. Thiago Motta failed to find the target with his header from the resulting corner.
Parma's only meaningful chance of the opening forty-five fell to their captain Morrone, who wriggled into the box before sending a diagonal shot straight at Julio Cesar. Inter launched a fast counter-attack and Mirante kept out a fierce drive from Zanetti.
A goalless first half called for a change in formation and Mourinho threw on Balotelli in place of Thiago Motta. The nineteen-year-old Italian made an immediate impact as the Nerazzurri looked more dangerous coming forward.
Parma, though, were always a threat and Inter youth academy product Jonathan Biabiany made two teasing runs, pulling his shot wide after the second.
The breakthrough came in the 71st minute when Eto'o received from Balotelli and turned Lanzafame to create space to curl his brilliant shot beyond Mirante and into the top right corner.
Rene Krhin came on for Sneijder in the 78th minute and celebrated his competitive debut for Inter ten later when Milito controlled Balotelli's right-wing cross in the box and fired past Mirante with the outside of his right foot.
Inter 2-0 Parma (HT: 0-0)
Scorers: Eto'o 71, Milito 88.
Inter: 12 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 6 Lucio, 25 Samuel, 39 Santon; 14 Vieira (11 Muntari 70), 4 Zanetti, 8 Thiago Motta (45 Balotelli 46); 10 Sneijder (15 Krhin 78); 9 Eto'o, 22 Milito.
Subs not used: 1 Toldo, 2 Cordoba, 7 Quaresma, 18 Suazo.
Coach: José Mourinho.
Parma: 83 Mirante; 19 Zenoni, 24 Paci, 2 Panucci, 6 Lucarelli; 5 Zaccardo (23 Amoruso 76), 17 Mariga, 4 Morrone, 14 Galloppa (9 Lanzafame 55); 20 Biabiany, 43 Paloschi (86 Boijnov 80).
Subs not used: 1 Pavarini, 7 Castellini, 10 Dzemaili, 15 Dellafiore.
Coach: Francesco Guidolin.
Referee: Roberto Rosetti (Turin).
Booked: Vieira 9, Galloppa 14, Thiago Motta 41, Eto'o 72.