Old guard helps Inter bounce back

Inter Milan defeated Chievo 2-0 at the San Siro to bounce back from their midweek UEFA Champions League loss and earn three points in Serie A. The champions moved, temporarily at least, up to second, closing the gap on leaders and city rivals AC Milan to just two points ahead of tomorrow's games.

It was the old guard of Esteban Cambiasso and Maicon who proved decisive as the Nerazzurri showed they could still have a say in the Scudetto chase.

Even before kick-off the pressure was on Inter, and in particular coach Leonardo, following the 3-0 loss to AC Milan and a 5-2 shocking at home to Schalke 04 in the past seven days that had seemingly left their season in tatters. Leonardo sprang a surprise by leaving Wesley Sneijder, Diego Milito and Thaigo Motta on the bench, but he could at least recall Lucio to the backline.

The hosts were soon pushing forward as Japan full-back Yuto Nagatomo got free down the left on 15 minutes and hit an inch-perfect cross into the box where Samuel Eto'o failed to make contact. A minute later and the other Inter full-back Maicon played in Giampaolo Pazzini behind the defence, but he rushed his shot on the turn and dragged it wide of the far upright.

Chievo were not just defending, but Davide Moscardelli rushed his volley after a defensive mistake and did not hit the target, while Sergio Pellissier had a header from distance that also flew wide.

Inter's chances were clearer, though, and on 38 minutes Eto'o created half a yard of space with his pace, but dragged his shot across the face of goal. Leonardo realised he needed something extra and brought Sneijder on for Dejan Stankovic at half-time.

Pellissier gave Inter another warning soon after the restart as he beat Andrea Ranocchia and Nagatomo to a Bojan Jokic cross only to head high. Kevin Constant also missed the ball when presented with a tap-in from Cyril Thereau's centre.

That, though, was when Inter struck from a half cleared corner as Lucio pulled the ball back to Maicon who crossed for Cambiasso to send a right-foot shot goalwards with a deflection off Marco Andreolli deceiving Stefano Sorrentino in goal.

Chievo should have been level 12 minutes from time as Jokic crossed for Pellissier, but presented with an identical chance to Cambiasso's, the striker blazed over the bar. Inter kept living dangerously as Fernando Uribe got behind the defence only to fire wide of the near post.

However, Maicon made the points safe with the second six minutes from time with a poked finish after a scrappy goalmouth scramble. Nagatomo had a great chance on the counter-attack in injury time, but shot straight at Sorrentino.