GENOA - There was no Diego Milito against his ex-team. There was no Samuel Eto'o, who is nursing a foot injury. But there was Mario Balotelli, who showed great strength of character after being plagued by fouls from start to finish. There was a five-man midfield that soaked up every Rossoblu manoeuvre. And there was a flat back four that ensured Julio Cesar an easy ride as Inter ripped Genoa to shreds at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
Saturday's 5-0 victory moves Serie A leaders Inter three points clear of Genoa's city rivals Sampdoria, and four clear of Juventus and Fiorentina who drew 1-1 in the early game in Turin.
Esteban Cambiasso opened the floodgates six minutes in. Maicon headed Wesley Sneijder's free kick to the Argentine who saw his shot on the turn go in via Modesto. Inter doubled their lead just past the half hour. Zanetti tackled Zapater in the Genoa third, allowing Sneijder the space to free Balotelli and the Italian powered his shot into the far corner.
The third goal was nothing short of amazing. It came from the feet of Dejan Stankovic, who got his reward in incredible fashion after creating a host of chances thanks to his telepathic interplay with Sneijder. Deep in injury time at the end of the first half, the Serbian intercepted a clearance by Amelia - who was out of his area - and volleyed home from the halfway line, much to the incredulity of the home fans.
Anyone who thought Inter would save their energy for Tuesday's Champions League visit of Dynamo Kiev was much mistaken, as Mourinho's side added two more goals in the second half to complete a memorable victory.
The fourth came on 66 minutes when Sneijder elegantly turned his marker and played into the path of second-half substitute Patrick Vieira. The Frenchman held off a challenge from Modesto and rifled past Amelia.
Maicon added the fifth six minutes later, bending his shot round the Genoa custodian after Muntari kept three opponents at bay before poking through to his team-mate.
Genoa 0-5 Inter (HT: 0-3)
Scorers: Cambiasso 6, Balotelli 31, Stankovic 45+4, Vieira 66, Maicon 72.
Genoa: 32 Amelia; 25 Biava, 24 Moretti, 26 Bocchetti; 15 Papastathopoulos (40 Tomovic 70), 77 Milanetto, 21 Zapater, 23 Modesto; 10 Palladino, 33 Floccari (9 Crespo 62), 14 Sculli (8 Palacio 62).
Subs not used: 73 Scarpi, 7 Rossi, 16 Esposito, 18 Raggio Garibaldi.
Coach: Gian Piero Gasperini.
Inter: 12 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 6 Lucio, 25 Samuel (2 Cordoba 77), 26 Chivu; 4 Zanetti, 11 Muntari, 19 Cambiasso (14 Vieira 46); 5 Stankovic, 10 Sneijder (30 Mancini 73); 45 Balotelli.
Subs not used: 1 Toldo, 18 Suazo, 39 Santon, 89 Arnautovic.
Coach: José Mourinho.
Referee: Emidio Morganti (Ascoli Piceno).
Booked: Balotelli 11, Modesto 23, Samuel 24, Muntari 46, Milanetto 70.
Sent off: Scarpi 45+5.