MILAN - An eight-goal thriller at the Meazza this evening saw the Nerazzurri run out 5-3 winners over Roma in Week 24 of Serie A 2010/11.
Inter immediately went ahead thanks to Sneijder's sweet strike after Maicon's cross but Simplicio put Roma back on level terms 10 minutes later. Eto'o restored Inter's lead in the 35th minute, sidestepping Riise to squeeze an angled shot beneath Julio Sergio. The game took a decisive turn after the restart, when Burdisso was sent off in the 63rd minute for bringing down Pazzini (through on goal) and Eto'o netted his second and Inter's third from the spot. Thiago Motta celebrated his call-up to the Italy squad with a goal when he nodded home Eto'o's far-post header in the 71st minute but Vucinic pulled one back and Loria reduced the arrears further to give the Meazza crowd a fright. However, 10-man Roma's hopes of an unlikely comeback were extinguished by Cambiasso, who slotted home a fifth on 90 minutes. 5-3 the final score and the Nerazzurri move up to third on 44 points, 5 behind leaders AC Milan.
FIRST HALF - In front of Julio Cesar, Leonardo put out the previously untried central defensive partnership of Cordoba and Ranocchia, with Maicon (making his 200th Inter appearance) and Zanetti in the full-back berths, a three-man midfield of Kharja, Thiago Motta and Cambiasso, and Sneijder sitting in the hole behind Pazzini and Eto'o.
Roma were the first to threaten through Menez but it was Inter who took an early lead, when Sneijder controlled Maicon's low cross on the edge of the box and struck a lovely left-footed shot on the bounce into the top corner. Julio Cesar had to be alert to Borriello's effort after 6 minutes, while down the other end Maicon hit a thunderbolt that flew just wide. Roma found an equaliser in the 13th minute when Vucinic beat Cordoba and laid off for Cassetti on the overlap; the right-back played a low cross in to the back post and Simplicio slid in ahead of Maicon to knock the ball past Julio Cesar. Two minutes passed and Inter's Brazilian goalkeeper was called into action to make a superb double save, first from Menez's shot and then from Borriello's follow-up. On 22 minutes Inter had a great chance after Julio Sergio failed to hold onto Sneijder's freekick and a goalmouth scramble ensued, with Ranocchia, Thiago Motta and Eto'o all unable to find a way through. Four minutes later Eto'o hit a clean volley just wide from the edge of the box and in the 31st minute Julio Sergio pushed away a venomous right-footed effort from Sneijder. Inter took the lead again on 35 minutes when Eto'o cut in from the right and stepped past Riise, creating an angle for himself to shoot beneath Julio Sergio. The Cameroonian had another chance just a minute later but his effort went over the bar. With four minutes of the half remaining Roma's keeper denied Sneijder once more, and the first half ended 2-1 after two minutes of added time.
SECOND HALF - There were no substitutions made during the break. Riise tried his luck a minute into the half but failed to hit the target. After 56 minutes, Cambiasso played Pazzini in with a fine ball and our January signing finished with style, only to see his effort ruled out as a borderline offside decision went against him. Pazzini was through again in the 62nd minute, thanks to Sneijder's weighted ball over the top of the defence, but this time he was knocked to the ground by a clumsy challenge from Burdisso. The referee Tagliavento pointed to the spot and showed the ex-Inter defender a straight red. Up stepped Eto'o: 3-1 to Inter. The Nerazzurri could sense more goals and continued to pile on the pressure: in the 68th Sneijder had another shot saved by Julio Sergio and a minute later the Dutchman found Eto'o on the left wing and his cross was met by Pazzini, whose effort was also blocked by the Roma keeper. The fourth goal did come two minutes later, and this time it was Thiago Motta who got on the score sheet, thus celebrating his call-up to the Italy squad: Sneijder's deep cross was met at the far post by Eto'o, who cushioned a header back across goal for Motta to nod in from a few yards out. Vucinic reduced the deficit with a quarter of an hour remaining, sticking out a foot to deflect De Rossi's low freekick into the opposite corner. Six minutes later it was 4-3: Juan's header came back off the upright and Loria pounced on the rebound to set up a nervous finale. Inter went looking for a fifth and only a great save from Julio Sergio denied Eto'o his hat-trick in the 89th minute. As the game entered stoppage time the Cameroonian jigged his way down to the by-line and played in a low ball that was cleared only as far as Zanetti; under pressure the skipper laid off intelligently for Cambiasso, who tucked his shot inside the near post and finally put the game to bed. After three minutes of added time, the referee blew the final whistle on a highly entertaining game of football, which saw Inter beat Roma 5-3.
Inter 5-3 Roma
Scorers: 3 Sneijder, 13 Simplicio, 35 and 63 (pen) Eto'o, 71 Thiago Motta, 75 Vucinic, 81 Loria, 90 Cambiasso
Inter: 1 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 15 Ranocchia, 2 Cordoba, 4 Zanetti; 14 Kharja, 8 Thiago Motta, 19 Cambiasso; 10 Sneijder (Nagatomo 75); 7 Pazzini (Milito 70), 9 Eto'o
Subs: 12 Castellazzi, 20 Obi, 23 Materazzi, 27 Pandev, 29 Coutinho
Roma: 27 Julio Sergio; 77 Cassetti, 29 N. Burdisso, 4 Juan, 17 Riise; 20 Perrotta (Taddei 67), 16 De Rossi, 30 Simplicio (Greco 71); 94 Menez (Loria 64), 22 Borriello, 9 Vucinic
Subs: 32 Doni, 3 Castellini, 33 Brighi, 87 Rosi
Coach: Claudio Ranieri
Referee: Paolo Tagliavento (Terni)
Booked: 37 Kharja, 43 Borriello, 88 De Rossi
Sent off: 62 Burdisso
Added time: 2+3