MILAN - Inter scored four without reply before half time but Palermo produced a strong second-half comeback before Diego Milito celebrated his return from injury with goal number five in a thrilling 5-3 victory at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.
In a match which saw Cordoba make his 400th appearance in black and blue, Stankovic his 300th for Italian clubs, and Javier Zanetti surpass Giacinto Facchetti's total of 476 Serie A games, strike partners Samuel Eto'o and Mario Balotelli scored braces to seemingly put Inter in complete control at the half-way mark, but Miccoli added a double of his own either side of Hernandez' goal to leave the result hanging in the balance.
Diego 'Il Principe' Milito, on for Balotelli in the second half, restored a two-goal advantage for the Nerazzurri with his sixth of the season to put José Mourinho's defending champions four points clear at the top of the table.
Cameroon goal machine Eto'o opened the floodgates from the penalty spot early on, sending Sirigu the wrong way after a Melinte foul on Balotelli in the box. The Italy Under-21 international added the second ten minutes before the break, rising above the Rosanero defence to head home Maicon's corner.
Inter were goal hungry and they were three-nil up by the 42nd when Balotelli saw Cambiasso's header over the line after Sirigu failed to clear Samuel's header. Not to be outdone, Eto'o crashed home the fourth - his fifth in Serie A - within sixty seconds after Balotelli brilliantly turned Migliaccio before setting up his team-mate.
The second half was anything but a walk in the park as Zenga's men battled their way back, scoring three times in a 20-minute spell. Miccoli beat Samuel to a long ball forward before lifting over Julio Cesar and crashing into an open net four minutes after the break. The Palermo striker slid home his second from a tight angle on 67 minutes, just after substitute Hernandez slotted home a pin-point cross from Cassani.
Suddenly, Inter had a game on their hands, and things weren't looking good when Eto'o hobbled off after hurting his foot when taking a shot. He was replaced by Thiago Motta and the Nerazzurri reorganised well to keep a buoyant Palermo side at bay.
Milito gave his team the required breathing space with seven minutes remaining when he slotted home from close range after Maicon's superb move down the right.
Inter 5-3 Palermo (HT: 4-0)
Scorers: Eto'o (pen) 7, 43, Balotelli 35, 42, Miccoli 49, 67, Hernandez 61, Milito 83.
Inter: 12 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 2 Cordoba, 25 Samuel, 26 Chivu (39 Santon 46); 4 Zanetti, 19 Cambiasso, 11 Muntari; 5 Stankovic; 9 Eto'o (8 Thiago Motta 74), 45 Balotelli (22 Milito 48).
Subs not used: 1 Toldo, 6 Lucio, 14 Vieira, 30 Mancini.
Coach: José Mourinho.
Palermo: 46 Sirigu; 3 Goian, 24 Kjaer, 8 Migliaccio; 21 Melinte (90 Hernandez 46), 30 Simplicio (9 Nocerino 85), 23 Bresciano, 16 Cassani; 6 Pastore (14 Bertolo 84); 7 Cavani, 10 Miccoli.
Subs not used: 1 Brichetto, 19 Succi, 26 Morganella, 88 Blasi.
Coach: Walter Zenga.
Referee: Paolo Tagliavento (Terni).
Booked: Chivu 36, Goian 38, Bertolo 86.