MILAN - Defending Italian champions Inter beat Lazio 1-0 in the last Serie A match of the decade to go into the winter break with an eight-point lead over second-placed AC Milan, whose Week 17 fixture away to Fiorentina was postponed.
Samuel Eto'o, who scored against Lazio in the Super Cup in Beijing last August, netted the winner on a freezing cold evening in Milan as the Nerazzurri homed in on the platonic - but significant - title of winter champions with two matches to go until the halfway point in the season.
Inter, playing with Stankovic behind the strikers in place of the suspended Sneijder, and Muntari continuing at left-back before his early exit due to injury, took the lead on 14 minutes when Eto'o fired home from close range after Muslera had blocked his header from Stankovic's cross.
Before half time Mourinho's men created two good opportunities to add to the Cameroonian's tenth goal in an Inter shirt, Cambiasso seeing his shot on the turn saved by Muslera before Milito fired narrowly wide from the edge of the box.
Eto'o had more chances early in the second half and with Lazio struggling to provide a reaction Davide Ballardini threw on ex-Inter favourite Julio Cruz for Meghni. But it was Kolarov who continued to pose the main threat. The Serbian, who saw his angled drive saved by Julio Cesar just before Eto'o's opening goal, came close with a diagonal volley that went just wide.
In a second half of few clear-cut chances, Inter's best opportunity of a second goal fell to Esteban Cambiasso, whose well executed curling free kick went wide of the diving Muslera and his left-hand post.
Inter 1-0 Lazio (HT: 1-0)
Scorer: Eto'o 14.
Inter: 12 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 6 Lucio, 2 Cordoba, 11 Muntari (14 Vieira 26); 4 Zanetti, 19 Cambiasso, 8 Thiago Motta; 5 Stankovic; 22 Milito (23 Materazzi 89), 9 Eto'o (45 Balotelli 86).
Subs not used: 1 Toldo, 15 Krhin, 18 Suazo, 29 Donati.
Coach: José Mourinho.
Lazio: 86 Muslera; 13 Siviglia, 28 Stendardo, 26 Radu; 2 Lichtsteiner, 33 Baronio, 11 Kolarov, 81 Del Nero (4 Firmani 80); 23 Meghni (74 Cruz 58), 5 Mauri; 9 Rocchi (18 Makinwa 80).
Subs not used: 88 Berni, 3 Scaloni, 25 Cribari, 87 Diakité.
Coach: Davide Ballardini.
Referee: Carmine Russo (Nola).
Booked: Thiago Motta 23, Baronio 30, Stendardo 67, Del Nero 78, Stankovic 84, Radu 85.