BOLOGNA - Inter made light work of Bologna with a well-deserved victory at the Stadio Dall'Ara, increasing their Serie A lead to eight points ahead of Sunday's matches.
Diego Milito opened the scoring on 22 minutes with a typical finish but Bologna replied within sixty seconds through Marcelo Zalayeta. Mario Balotelli, preferred to Samuel Eto'o in attack, restored Inter's lead with a headed goal before the break, with Esteban Cambiasso wrapping up the points in the second half.
After a sluggish opening period Bologna goalkeeper Viviano suddenly had his work cut out. He kept out a long-range drive from Chivu and a close-range header from Thiago Motta, but there was little he could do to save Milito's shot on 22 minutes. Thiago Motta's wayward header from Balotelli's corner was headed back into the middle of the area by Lucio and Milito swivelled before crashing home.
Bologna's reply came within sixty seconds. Zalayeta brought down Adailton's long-range pass into the area and took it wide of Julio Cesar and two defenders before firing into the top right corner as the Dall'Ara erupted.
Balotelli had a quick chance to put the Italian champions back in front but Viviano did enough to narrow the angle. Stankovic went even closer with a shot that hit both posts before Viviano smothered the ball to stop Cambiasso from slotting over the line.
Balotelli got his reward four minutes before the interval. Maicon swung in a corner from left and the young Italian rose on the edge of the six-yard box to power home his header.
Inter came out for the second half with Samuel Eto'o on for Balotelli and the Cameroonian brought the match to life with an amazing piece of skill on the byline, setting up Milito who rattled the crossbar with a rising drive that Viviano somehow got a touch to.
The Bologna keeper made more saves from Cambiasso and Stankovic, before the former sealed a fourth consecutive away victory with a well-taken finish in the 72nd minute. Milito beat the offside trap and crossed for Cambiasso to stab first time into the bottom right corner.
Inter were reduced to ten men in added time when Maicon was shown a straight red card for dissent.
Bologna 1-3 Inter (HT: 1-1)
Scorers: Milito 22, Zalayeta 23, Balotelli 41, Cambiasso 72.
Bologna: 1 Viviano; 84 Raggi, 13 Portanova, 6 Britos, 23 Lanna; 7 Valiani (26 Mudingayi 59), 14 Guana (21 Zenoni 85), 8 Mingazzini; 85 Adailton; 9 Di Vaio, 25 Zalayeta (22 Osvaldo 71).
Subs not used: 15 Colombo, 10 Bombardini, 11 Vigiani, 41 Marazzina.
Coach: Franco Colomba.
Inter: 12 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 6 Lucio, 25 Samuel, 26 Chivu; 4 Zanetti, 19 Cambiasso, 8 Thiago Motta; 5 Stankovic (14 Vieira 75); 22 Milito (30 Mancini 80), 45 Balotelli (9 Eto'o 46).
Subs not used: 1 Toldo, 2 Cordoba, 15 Krhin, 23 Materazzi.
Coach: José Mourinho.
Referee: Roberto Rosetti (Turin).
Booked: Balotelli 37, Thiago Motta 76.
Sent off: Maicon 90+1.