20.03.10 / 22:54
PALERMO - Inter's return trip to Sicily ended in a 1-1 draw as Palermo successfully defended their long unbeaten home run.
Diego Milito scored from the penalty spot as the Nerazzurri made a dream start at the Stadio Renzo Barbera, but Edinson Cavani brought the teams on level terms to set the tone for an exciting game.
José Mourinho made two changes to the side that knocked Chelsea out of the Champions League. Thiago Motta and Goran Pandev dropped to the bench with Dejan Stankovic and Javier Zanetti starting in midfield and Davide Santon returning at left-back in a diamond 4-4-2.
After early chances for Stankovic, Eto'o and Milito, who hit the post from an acute angle, Lucio earned his team a penalty kick in the tenth minute after being brought down by Bovo. Milito stepped up to the stop and fired home his 20th goal of the season as Inter capitalised on their early domination.
The hosts responded to the early setback in the 24th minute, Miccoli turning Cambiasso and playing a low ball through to Cavani who took a quick touch before shooting past Julio Cesar.
After Palermo's equaliser the game opened up and it was end-to-end stuff with both sides producing plenty of chances.
Twenty minutes into the second half Mourinho replaced Stankovic with Thiago Motta and introduced Thiago Motta for Santon.
The result was a more attacking Inter with opportunities on goal for Sneijder, Eto'o, Cambiasso, Maicon, Samuel, but the ball wouldn't go in.
Palermo were dangerous on the counter-attack but Cavani wasted great chances to put his team ahead.
The Rosanero came closest in added time when Miccoli directed an his left-wing free kick at the near post, forcing Julio Cesar into a difficult save.
Saturday night's draw sees Serie A leaders Inter go two points clear of second-placed Milan, who host Napoli on Sunday.
Palermo 1-1 Inter (HT: 1-1)
Scorers: Milito (pen) 11, Cavani 24.
Palermo: 46 Sirigu; 16 Cassani, 5 Bovo, 24 Kjaer, 42 Balzaretti; 8 Migliaccio, 30 Simplicio (14 Bertolo 54), 9 Nocerino; 6 Pastore; 10 Miccoli, 7 Cavani (90 Hernandez 89).
Subs not used: 28 Benussi, 3 Goian, 20 Budan, 88 Blasi, 89 Celustka.
Coach: Delio Rossi.
Inter: 12 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 6 Lucio, 25 Samuel, 39 Santon (8 Thiago Motta 65); 5 Stankovic (27 Pandev 65), 19 Cambiasso, 4 Zanetti; 10 Sneijder; 9 Eto'o 22 Milito.
Subs not used: 1 Toldo, 2 Corodoba, 7 Quaresma, 17 Mariga, 23 Materazzi.
Coach: José Mourinho.
Referee: Antonio Damato (Barletta).
Booked: Bovo 10, Stankovic 15, Lucio 45+1, Maicon 59, Samuel 82, Migliaccio 86, Milito 90+1.