MILAN - Yesterday Andrea Stramaccioni said: "We'll only know if we can call last week a good one or not after 17:00 today." Well it turned out for the better, but it wasn't a match for anyone with a weak heart. Inter v Genoa finished 5-4, with four penalties and both teams receiving a red card. It really was a thriller.
Inter hadn't won a home league match since 22 January: 2-1 against Lazio. Today they did it with a new coach on the bench, who just 7 days ago was celebrating winning the NextGen Series in London with the Primavera team. There was much enthusiasm and great joy following the victory, which takes the Nerazzurri onto 44 points in the league, but thrills and spills kept Inter, Stramaccioni and the fans on the edge of their seats until the final whistle. Three of the goals came from Milito and were added to by Samuel and Zarate. This was the fifth 5-4 win by the Nerazzurri in their history. Last time it happened was in the 1932/33 season (Ambrosiana Inter 5-4 AC Milan).
FIRST HALF – With Maicon and Sneijder ruled out Stramaccioni, on his debut on the bench, chose Lucio and Samuel in the centre of defence in front of Julio Cesar, with Zanetti and Chivu playing wide of them. He picked a three-man midfield with Poli, Stankovic and Cambiasso, and sent Zarate, Milito and Forlan into attack.
Before the match began, Inter's new coach saw his past and present come together as the Primavera team, winners of the NextGen Series, completed a lap of honour with the trophy they won in London. The fans at the Stadio Meazza applauded the Inter youngsters and of course Stramaccioni.
There was an atmosphere of renewed confidence as the match kicked off: the Nerazzurri showed great tenacity and took the lead before the 15-minute mark. In the 13th minute Cambiasso passed to Zarate, who in turn passed wide to Forlan: El Cacha lofted a cross from the left for Milito and El Principe didn't waste the opportunity. The fans' hopes had been reawakened by the change. In the 20th minute they almost made it two, but Frey denied them pulling off a great save from a header by Cambiasso. In the 27th minute the second goal came and it was Milito again, with a left-foot shot this time, following a through pass from Stankovic. The Stadio Meazza burst into life again, as did president Moratti in the directors' box, but Milito, as in the first goal scored against his former team, contained himself out of respect. In the 38th minute Inter extended their lead to 3-0, taking advantage of a mistake by the Genoa defence, which the Nerazzurri capitalised on: Lucio crossed from the right and Samuel slid in to score left-footed. Two minutes into added time Genoa pulled one back as an overhead kick from Sculli took a deflection off Moretti and caught Julio Cesar wrong-footed. The whistle blew with Inter leading Genoa by three goals to one.
SECOND HALF – Genoa made one change at half time with Jankovic coming on for Veloso. The Nerazzurri opened the second half with the same aggressive attitude they had shown in the first, Stankovic going for goal immediately from outside the area, but Frey managed to deny him. In the 56th minute Zarate blasted right-footed but the Genoa keeper was on hand to save. On 59 minutes Valeri awarded Genoa a penalty after Sculli's header came off Zanetti's outstretched arm in the area: Palacio didn't miss. Guarin made his debut on the hour mark, as he substituted Stankovic. Cambiasso tried to react, curling in a shot which just missed the target.
In the 66th minute Zanetti dribbled into the box but was blocked by Belluschi's sliding tackle. In the 70th Lucio came close with a header. On 74 minutes Zarate made it 4-2 with a spectacular curling right-footed shot from the left side of the box; it was the first in Serie A for the Argentine who seemed to have found a new lease of life. In the 78th minute Julio Cesar saw red after pulling down Palacio in the area: Inter were down to ten and Zarate had to come off to make room for Castellazzi. Gilardino took the penalty: goal, and it was 4-3. In the 84th minute the ref pulled out the red card again: this time for Belluschi for a foul on Guarin. In the 85th Milito scored from the spot for his hat-trick and brought the score to 5-3. On 89 minutes Lucio made a clumsy tackle on Sculli: penalty. Gilardino scored in the 90th minute to make it 5-4. After three minutes of added time Inter v Genoa finished 5-4 and the Nerazzurri are now on 44 points.
Inter 5-4 Genoa (HT: 3-1)
Scorers: Milito 13, 27, 85 (pen) Samuel 38, Moretti 45+2, Palacio 59 (pen), Zarate 74, Gilardino 80 (pen) 90 (pen).
Inter: 1 Julio Cesar, 4 Zanetti, 6 Lucio, 25 Samuel, 26 Chivu, 18 Poli, 5 Stankovic (Guarin 60), 19 Cambiasso, 28 Zarate (Castellazzi 79), 22 Milito, 9 Forlan (Obi 75).
Unused subs: 23 Ranocchia, 55 Nagatomo, 7 Pazzini, 88 Livaja.
Coach: Andrea Stramaccioni.
Genoa: 1 Frey; 20 Mesto, 3 Carvalho, 13 Kaladze, 24 Moretti, 88 Biondini (Jorquera 82), 4 Veloso (Jankovic 46), 25 Belluschi, 81 Sculli, 82 Gilardino, 8 Palacio.
Unused subs: 22 Lupatelli, 9 Zé Eduardo, 10 Birsa, 18 Alhassan, 21 Bovo.
Coach: Pasquale Marino.
Referee: Paolo Valeri (Rome section).
Booked: Moretti 41, Jankovic 62, Poli 62, Palacio 78, Mesto 88, Lucio 89. Sent off: Julio Cesar 78, Belluschi 84.
Added time: 2+3.