MILAN - Inter said goodbye to 2011 with goals: Pazzini dedicated his to his newborn son, Milito found the net after three months, Cambiasso celebrated Inter's third, and then Alvarez netted his first goal in Serie A in this evening's KO of Lecce. And thus the Nerazzurri bagged their fourth consecutive win and will head into 2012 with 26 points in the standings.
The first half saw a goal for the Giallorossi, and only the post and crossbar for the Nerazzurri, who hit the woodwork four times in 10 minutes through Forlan (twice), Pazzini and Samuel. Yes, the goal was cursed, but it was Pazzini who broke the spell, celebrating the birth of his first child, Tommaso, as well as the equaliser. Then Milito finally found the goal that had been eluding him since last 24 September. Cambiasso followed with a goal in the second half, then Alvarez added the fourth to seal the match.
FIRST HALF – Ranieri started with both Alvarez and Forlan. Pazzini was in attack alongside the Uruguayan, while Milito and Cambiasso came off the bench as subs and Ranocchia was in the stands.
After a touch from Maicon, it was Thiago Motta who sought the goal in the 7th minute with a shot from distance that ended up sailing over the crossbar. The Brazilian defender crossed again to Pazzini who, already in the box, couldn't manage to strike the ball cleanly under the challenge of Oddo. Inter then came close to scoring on a corner from Maicon when Thiago Motta did well to aim for the near post, but the ball went all the way through the box untouched. Lecce responded through Brivio, with the defender shooting too high. The same fate befell Forlan when the Uruguayan did everything on his own before shooting over the goal. Then the visitors became the team to first find the scoreboard; Obodo's long pass picked out Muriel, who out-dribbled both Maicon and Lucio to put the ball past Julio Cesar and open the scoring. However, the Colombian attacker's position when the ball was passed seemed questionable. Inter responded with Forlan and his left-footed blast from the edge of the box that only found the post. But things didn't stop there; 3 minutes later Pazzini was foiled when his header, from Maicon's cross, smacked off the crossbar. Zanetti also had a go this evening; in the 29th minute the captain sent a powerful effort at Gabrieli's goal but his shot was off target. Inter again struck the woodwork – the third time in 6 minutes – when Samuel climbed high to send his header against the post. How about a fourth time? Incredibly it happened in the 34th minute when Forlan's header struck the upright. The goal seemed to be cursed, but then Pazzini found a way to break the spell when he stretched to poke the ball into the net with the tip of his boot from just a few yards in front of the goalmouth, bringing the result to 1-1. Once again it was Pazzo threatening after a short corner from Nagatomo, but he sent his header too far wide of Gabrieli's goal.
SECOND HALF – The second half began with two changes for Inter and one for Lecce. Milito and Cambiasso were sent on for Faraoni and Forlan, and it was El Principe who latched on to a lovely through ball sent forward to him by Alvarez; the forward then touched the ball past the shoulder of Gabrieli and into the net to put the Nerazzurri ahead. Pazzini then looked to add to that when, after a touch from Cambiasso, he took a shot under pressure from Tomovic, only to see his effort go high. The Giallorossi came close to equalising on 61 minutes when Di Michele found Corvia with a pass, but Julio Cesar blocked his effort with a foot save. At the other end Maicon picked out Alvarez and the Argentine's left-footed touch sent the ball just a hair wide of the goal. A second great opportunity was wasted by Corvia when, after the corner taken by Cuadrado, he shot over the crossbar from a dangerous position. However, the Nerazzurri were not so wasteful at the other end; after being released by Zanetti, Nagatomo did some excellent work before cutting the ball back for Cambiasso, who put the ball into the net at full stretch. Nagatomo was again the provider eight minutes later when his perfect cross was volleyed in by Ricky Alvarez for the fourth, ending Inter's 2011 in style.
After two minutes of injury time the match ended; Inter 4-1 Lecce. The Nerazzurri now sit with 26 points in the standings and will next face Parma on 7 January.
Lecce 4-1 Inter (HT 1-1)
Scorers: Muriel 20, Pazzini 34, Milito 49, Cambiasso 73, Alvarez 81.
Inter: 1 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 6 Lucio, 25 Samuel, 55 Nagatomo; 37 Faraoni (Cambiasso 46), 4 Zanetti, 8 Thiago Motta, 11 Alvarez; 9 Forlan (Alvarez 46), 7 Pazzini (Obi 71).
Unused subs: 12 Castellazzi, 2 Cordoba, 29 Coutinho, 30 Castaignos.
Coach: Claudio Ranieri.
Lecce: 1 Gabrieli; 30 Oddo, 40 Tomovic, 13 Ferrario; 7 Cuadrado, 18 Giacomazzi, 8 Obodo (Pasquato 75), 10 Olivera (Piatti 46), 28 Brivio; 24 Muriel (Corvia 54), 17 Di Michele.
Unused subs: 50 Turbacci, 16 Diamoutene, 20 Bergougnoux, 21 Grossmulle.
Coach: Serse Cosmi.
Referee: Marco Guida (Torre Annunziata).
Booked: Obodo 30, Maicon 86, Pasquato 87.
Added time: 0+2 minutes.