MILAN - Wesley Sneijder opened his scoring account for Inter in dramatic fashion as the Nerazzurri saw off Udinese in Week 7 of the Serie A championship.
The match was heading for a draw after Antonio Di Natale cancelled out Dejan Stankovic's opener, but the Dutch ace popped up with the winning goal in added time to put Inter on top of the table ahead of Sunday's matches.
Mourinho made three changes from the draw with Rubin Kazan. Milito, Muntari and Sneijder returned to the starting lineup with Mancini and Balotelli dropping to the bench, while Zanetti switched to right-back in place of the suspended Maicon.
Balotelli came on sooner than he expected when Milito pulled up with an injury in the 26th minute, with Inter already a goal up thanks to Stankovic's clinical diagonal finish. The Serbian passed to Eto'o and the Cameroonian made a darting run on goal before setting up his team-mate, whose snapshot flew into the top corner via the fingers of Handanovic.
Udinese produced a quick reply and it came from the feet of Serie A top scorer Antonio Di Natale. The Italian beat the offside trap to Inler's through ball and crashed past Julio Cesar from close range to bring his tally to nine goals in seven games.
Inter bossed the Bianconeri for the remainder of the first half, but Marino's team should have gone into the break on top when Sanchez rounded Lucio and blasted over with just Julio Cesar to beat.
There were fewer chances in a slower second half, but plenty of bookings as both sides adopted a cat and mouse approach in search of a winner. Floro Flores and Di Natale had scoring opportunities early on, before Inter stepped up the pressure midway through the half with Stankovic forcing a one-handed save from Handanovic.
Udinese failed to capitalise on chances from counter-attacks in the final stages with Lukovic blasting wide from an inviting position and Julio Cesar narrowing the angle to deny Di Natale, before Sneijder brought the house down in time added on with a diagonal shot into the far corner.
Inter 2-1 Udinese (HT: 1-1)
Scorers: Stankovic 22, Di Natale 27, Sneijder 45+3.
Inter: 12 Julio Cesar; 4 Zanetti, 6 Lucio (39 Santon 88), 25 Samuel, 26 Chivu; 5 Stankovic, 19 Cambiasso, 11 Muntari (18 Suazo 73); 10 Sneijder; 9 Eto'o, 22 Milito (45 Balotelli 26).
Subs not used: 1 Toldo, 2 Cordoba, 15 Krhin, 30 Mancini, 39 Santon.
Coach: José Mourinho.
Udinese: 22 Handanovic; 8 Basta (2 Zapata 70), 13 Coda, 80 Domizzi, 24 Lukovic; 11 Sanchez, 21 D'Agostino, 88 Inler, 7 Pepe (26 Pasquale 89); 83 Floro Flores (9 Corradi 75), 10 Di Natale.
Subs not used: 6 Belardi, 14 Sammarco, 19 Felipe, 84 Lodi.
Coach: Pasquale Marino.
Referee: Mauro Bergonzi (Genoa).
Booked: Sneijder 19, Floro Flores 45, Domizzi 45+1, Chivu 55, Pepe 68. Corradi 78, Coda 84.