MILAN - Thiago Motta opened and completed the scoring with his second and third goals of the season, with Mario Balotelli adding his tenth in between as Inter romped to a 3-0 victory over Bologna.
The convincing Easter Saturday win at the Giuseppe Meazza keeps the Nerazzurri a point ahead of Roma - 1-0 winners away to Bari - with six games of the season remaining.
The Brazilian midfielder netted a minute before the half hour as Inter capitalised on a dominant period, with the young Italian scoring the second shortly after the break. Thiago Motta put the icing on the cake with his second of the game four minutes from time.
With Zanetti, Lucio, Maicon and Eto'o all serving one-game bans, José Mourinho rang in the changes for Serie A Week 32. Balotelli started in attack with Thiago Motta returning in midfield and Cordoba, Chivu and Santon earning recalls in defence.
Franco Colomba countered Inter's 4-3-3 with a 4-4-2, with Di Vaio and Adailton leading the front line.
A fast start by the Nerazzurri saw Milito narrowly miss the target with a classy shot on the turn. Bologna replied through Adailton, his inswinging free kick shaving the near post.
Inter piled on the pressure and Viviano made saves from Balotelli and Pandev, the Italian youngster also having a goal ruled out for a foul on Portanova.
It was a question of when, not if, and Thiago Motta popped up with the deserved opener a minute short of the half hour when he chested down outside the area and picked his spot before crashing beyond Viviano and into the far corner.
Mourinho's men could easily have been four-nil up at the break. Stankovic rose unchallenged at the far post to nod wide a Milito cross, while Balotelli saw one shot hit the outside of the post and another saved by Viviano on the stroke of half time.
Bologna started the second period with Zalayeta on for Modesto and the Rossoblu appeared to have an extra spring in their step. But Inter soon put the game beyond the visitor's reach when Balotelli sidefooted under Viviano after a superb pass from Milito on 52 minutes.
Thiago Motta completed a miserable afternoon out for the Rossoblu with another fine effort in the closing stages as the Nerazzurri saved their energy for Tuesday's Champions League clash against CSKA Moscow. He exchanged passes with Stankovic to prize open the defence and bury his shot into the bottom left corner.
Inter 3-0 Bologna (HT: 1-0)
Scorers: Thiago Motta 29, 86, Balotelli 52.
Inter: 12 Julio Cesar; 39 Santon, 2 Cordoba, 25 Samuel, 26 Chivu; 5 Stankovic, 19 Cambiasso (15 Krhin 87), 8 Thiago Motta; 45 Balotelli, 22 Milito (11 Muntari 87), 27 Pandev (10 Sneijder 69).
Subs not used: 1 Toldo, 7 Quaresma, 17 Mariga, 23 Materazzi.
Coach: José Mourinho.
Bologna: 1 Viviano; 84 Raggi, 13 Portanova, 6 Britos, 23 Lanna; 24 Buscè, 8 Mingazzini (32 Casarini 27), 14 Guana, 30 Modesto (25 Zalayeta 46); 85 Adailton; 9 Di Vaio (20 Gimenez 80).
Subs not used: 15 Colombo, 3 Santos, 11 Succi, 21 Zenoni.
Coach: Franco Colomba.
Referee: Luca Banti (Livorno).
Booked: Lanna 54, Stankovic 72.