MILAN - In-form Dejan Stankovic scored one and made two as Inter went on to beat AC Milan 4-3 in a thrilling derby encounter at the Giuseppe Meazza. The memorable victory moves Mancini's men three points clear of Palermo at the top of the table ahead of Sunday's matches.
Serbian midfielder Stankovic, who has excelled for Inter since switching to an attacking midfield position, crossed for Hernan Crespo to head in the opener on 17 minutes. Five minutes later he collected a pass from Maicon and rifled an unstoppable right-foot shot into the top left corner to notch his fourth of the season.
Inter kept up the first-half pressure after taking a 2-0 lead, limiting Milan to shots from distance with Kakà twice denied by Julio Cesar. Stankovic and Crespo had chances to increase Inter's lead, but Dida was equal on both occasions.
Carlo Ancelotti made three half-time substitutions, bringing on Oliveira, Gilardino and Maldini on for Ambrosini, Inzaghi and Jankulovski.
Inter looked to have knocked the wind out of Milan's sails two minutes in when Ibrahimovic fired past Dida following a central run on goal by Stankovic.
But the Rossoneri pulled one back soon after when Seedorf's shot rebounded off Cordoba and into the net with Julio Cesar stranded.
Gilardino then had a headed goal ruled out for offside before Mancini introduced Figo and Burdisso for Dacourt and Grosso.
Marco Materazzi rose to head in a Figo cross on 68 minutes and give Inter a seemingly unassailable 4-1 lead, only to be sent off for a second bookable offence after celebrating by pulling his jersey over his face.
With the Nerazzurri down to ten men for the final twenty minutes, Milan rallied and further reduced the arrears when Gilardino met a Cafu cross from the right and sent a flicked header into the top left corner.
Julio Cesar pulled off fine saves from Oliveira, Seedorf and Kakà, and Cordoba made a couple of crucial interventions to preserve Inter's two-goal advantage before Kakà set up a tense finale with a lobbed goal in the first minute of added time.
Oliveira headed narrowly wide of the far post in the dying seconds after rising to meet a Gattuso cross.
AC MILAN 3-4 INTER (HT: 0-2)
Scorers: Crespo 17, Stankovic 22, Ibrahimovic 47, Seedorf 50, Materazzi 68, Gilardino 76, Kakà 90+1
AC MILAN: 1 Dida; 2 Cafu, 13 Nesta, 4 Kaladze, 18 Jankulovski (3 Maldini 46); 8 Gattuso, 21 Pirlo, 10 Seedorf, 23 Ambrosini (7 Oliveira 46); 9 Inzaghi (11 Gilardino 46), 22 Kakà
Subs not used: 16 Kalac, 17 Simic, 20 Gourcuff, 32 Brocchi
Coach: Carlo Ancelotti
INTER: 12 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 2 Cordoba, 23 Materazzi, 11 Grosso (16 Burdisso 61); 5 Stankovic, 14 Vieira, 15 Dacourt (7 Figo 61), 4 Zanetti; 8 Ibrahimovic (25 Samuel 83), 18 Crespo
Subs not used: 1 Toldo, 9 Cruz, 21 Solari, 91 Mariano Gonzalez
Coach: Roberto Mancini
Referee: Stefano Farina (Novi Ligure)
Booked: Vieira 3, Gattuso 5, Inzaghi 19, Seedorf 30, Gilardino 50, Maicon 54, Materazzi 56, 69, Pirlo 84, Julio Cesar 88, Burdisso 90+5
Sent-off: Materazzi 69