NOVARA – There was a
party atmosphere in the air as Javier Zanetti prepared to
set another record: 757 games for Inter, a life dedicated to
these colours. There was a party atmosphere before the game and it will no doubt return soon,
but Novara ruined things in the meantime with a goal by Meggiorini
and a brace from Rigoni. Besides Zanetti, the home fans at the Stadio Silvio Piola were also in a party mood and hoping for Novara to make the best possible start on their first appearance in Serie A in 55 years. At least they went home happy.
FIRST HALF – Gasperini had Chivu available again for the Novara match and the Romanian slotted in alongside Lucio and Ranocchia in a back three, while Luc Castaignos was handed his full league debut in a three-pronged attack with Milito and Forlan.
The Nerazzurri had an early first fright after just 60 seconds when Meggiorini almost took advantage of a mistake by Chivu; the ex-Inter forward's close-range shot was saved by Julio Cesar but he took it in the face and remained on the ground for a few minutes to receive treatment. From the resulting corner, Paci nodded towards goal but Chivu was perfectly placed to clear off the line (3rd minute).On 9 minutes, a move involving Milito and Castaignos ended with Sneijder's right-footed shot being deflected behind for a corner.
Novara went on the attack again after a quarter of an hour: Rigoni's ball gave Meggorini a sight on goal and the forward showed great skill to hit an acrobatic volley that fizzed a fraction wide of the post.A minute later Julio Cesar and Mazzarini clashed head-on in mid-air: the keeper's challenge was high and rather dangerous because his opponent touched the ball first, but Bergonzi was right not to award a penalty because the Brazilian was clearly going for the ball.
On 32 minutes Forlan won a corner. The cross was punched away by Ujkani but Paci's shirt-pulling on Ranocchia might well have resulted in a penalty on other occasions.
Sneijder then took the initiative and went for goal but a deflection off Paci meant the ball ran safely to Ujkani's arms (36 minutes).
The opening goal came in the 38th minute and it was an ex-Nerazzurri player, Meggiorini, who did the damage: Mazzarani picked up the ball and advanced down the left before slipping the ball inside for Meggiorini to fire into the far corner.
That was the end of the action in the first half,
which ended 1-0.
SECOND HALF – The second half began with two changes in the Inter line-up: Pazzini and Obi replaced Forlan and Castaignos. Nagatomo immediately went looking for a leveller with a low drive that flew inches beyond the post.
Inter could have been two down in the 53rd minute, when Mazzarani sped clear of the defence and shook off Cambiasso, only to shoot at Julio Cesar's legs.
Obi took one for the team and got himself booked for a foul on Mazzarani as Novara started another counter-attack on 62 minutes, then five minutes later Gasperini used up his last substitution: Zarate on for Sneijder.
Pazzini was another who struggled this evening and the lethal finishing often associated with him was lacking in the 71st minute, when he lifted his shot on the turn high up over the bar - though via a deflection that wasn't seen by Bergonzi.
There was nothing wrong with Julio Cesar's reactions a minute later, however, as he pushed Dellafiore's stinging shot up and over the bar.The Nerazzurri's best chance came in the 76th minute: Cambiasso's through ball found Pazzini in space wide in the box but the striker dragged his finish just wide of the far post.
In the final minutes, Ranocchia – who had left the pitch shortly before with an ankle injury and then hobbled back on because Inter had no substitutions left – tussled with Morimoto as they entered the area. There was a little push by the defender but the Japanese player let himself collapse. Bergonzi sent Ranocchia off and pointed to the spot, from which Rigoni duly converted to make it 2-0 after 85 minutes.
That was the end, or so it seemed. Cambiasso pulled one back out of nothing when a half clearance was deflected into his path. But hope was short-lived because down the other end, Giorgi's shot was parried by Julio Cesar in front of Rigoni, who had the simple task of turning into an empty net.
After three minutes of stoppage time, Bergonzi called an end to the game: 3-1 to Novara at the Stadio Silvio Piola. Inter remain on one point.
Novara 3-1 Inter (HT: 1-0)
Scorers: Meggiorini 38, Rigoni 86 (pen) and 89; Cambiasso.
1 Ujkani; 15 Dellafiore, 24 Paci, 4 Lisuzzo, 3 Gemiti; 17 Porcari, 23
Radovanovic (Marianini 64), 10 Rigoni; 21 Mazzarani (Jeda 67); 11 Morimoto, 69 Meggiorini (Giorgi 62).
Unsued subs: 31 Fontana, 5 Ludi, 14 Morganella, 20 Granoche.
Coach: Attilio Tesser.
Inter: 1 Julio Cesar; 6
Lucio, 23 Ranocchia, 26 Chivu; 4 Zanetti, 19 Cambiasso, 10 Sneijder
(Zarate 67), 55 Nagatomo; 30 Castaignos (Obi 46), 22 Milito, 9
Forlan (Pazzini 46).
Unused subs: 12 Castellazzi, 25 Samuel, 29 Coutinho, 42 Jonathan.
Coach: Gian Piero Gasperini.
Referee: Mauro Bergonzi (Genoa refereeing section)
Booked: Chivu 28, Pazzini 60, Dellafiore 61, Obi 62, Lucio 84, Ranocchia 85.
Added time: 1+3 minutes.