GENOA - Sulley Muntari came off the bench and scored in added time at the end of the first half as Inter saw off Genoa at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
The 1-0 win lifts the Italian champions above AC Milan, who take on Juventus tomorrow, and within a point of Serie A leaders Lazio, who travel to Palermo on Sunday.
Genoa made an attacking start to the Friday night fixture but Luca Toni failed to take advantage of several clear chances.
Inter lost Esteban Cambiasso to injury in the 19th minute and on came Muntari.
In the last minute of first-half stoppage time the Ghana midfielder received from Wesley Sneijder and whacked a left-foot shot past Eduardo to give Inter the upper hand.
The Nerazzurri suffered a further injury blow twenty minutes after half time when Julio Cesar came off with a muscular problem.
On came Luca Castellazzi for his first Serie A game for Inter after a substitute appearance against Werder Bremen, and the Brazilian's understudy protected his team's lead with saves from Toni and Destro.
Genoa 0-1 Inter (HT: 0-1)
Scorer: Muntari 45+3
Genoa: 1 Eduardo; 3 Dainelli 16 Ranocchia,13 Kaladze; 2 Chico (22 Destro 58), 77 Milanetto, 7 Rossi (25 Boakye 79), 4 Criscito; 18 Rafinha, 9 Toni, 20 Mesto (36 Zuculini 59).
Subs not used: 73 Scarpi, 5 Tomovic, 23 Modesto, 24 Moretti.
Coach: Gian Piero Gasperini.
Inter: 1 Julio Cesar (12 Castellazzi 65); 13 Maicon, 6 Lucio, 25 Samuel, 39 Santon; 4 Zanetti, 19 Cambiasso (11 Muntari 19); 88 Biabiany (2 Cordoba 84), 10 Sneijder, 29 Coutinho; 9 Eto'o.
Subs not used: 22 Milito, 23 Materazzi, 27 Pandev, 40 Nwankwo.
Coach: Rafael Benitez.
Referee: Luca Banti (Livorno).
Booked: Santon 31, Milanetto 60, Muntari 82, Boakye 90+4.