Pazzini late show stumps Cesena
© AFP

Two stoppage-time goals from Giampaolo Pazzini kept Inter Milan in the hunt for the Scudetto with a fortunate 2-1 win at relegation-threatened Cesena.

The home time appeared to be on course for a crucial victory after Igor Budan gave them a deserved lead in the 56th minute, but Pazzini struck twice in the 91st and 95th minutes to stun the home team and reduce the arrears on AC Milan at the top of the table to five points.

The result means Milan cannot now be crowned Serie A champions tomorrow while Cesena could slip into the bottom three this weekend. Cesena had already beaten Milan at the Stadio Dino Manuzzi this season and they were keen on sending Inter the same way.

We looked at it as a decisive game and it was very important to get the three points for the Champions League, even if qualification isn't yet secured.
Leonardo, Inter Milan coach

They started brightly with Emanuel Giaccherini missing the first chance in the sixth minute when he was put through on goal, but his shot was initially saved by Luca Castellazzi, who was glad to see Maicon covering behind him to clear the ball definitively.

Inter weathered the early storm and started to get on top of the game, albeit without posing any threat in attack. Leonardo's men controlled possession, but the tiredness which has seen them fall out of touch at the top of the table recently was clear to see.

Pazzini leaves it late
Cesena got their second wind at the start of the second half and Luis Jimenez almost surprised Castellazzi at his near post from a very tight angle. And the home side took the lead in the 56th minute when Budan met Ceccarelli's cross from the right win with a volley from seven yards for his first goal of the season.

Inter dug deep into their energy reserves to try and find a way back into the game, but apart from a few headers wide of the post from Lucio and Pazzini, a Nerazzurro goal did not look likely. They even risked falling two behind when Dominique Malonga cut in from the left and saw his shot deflected just wide by Ranocchia.

Cesena were trying to play down the clock, but had not counted on Pazzini in stoppage time. The Italy international first met Samuel Eto'o's cross with an outstretched leg to beat Francesco Antonioli from six yards out in the first minute of additional time, before heading in from exactly the same spot in the final minute.

Inter coach Leonardo said after the game: "We looked at it as a decisive game and it was very important to get the three points for the Champions League, even if qualification isn't yet secured. Winning in this way really is incredible even if it's not our first comeback.

"We're five points behind Milan so anything can happen," he added having laughed at a question regarding Inter's title hopes. "Our aim for today was the Champions League, now we'll see what happens."