Inter beat Bologna, extend lead
Inter Milan moved eight points clear at the top of Serie A with a dominant 3-1 win at Bologna this evening.
Diego Milito put I Nerazzurri ahead in the 22nd minute, but Marcelo Zalayeta equalised within a minute. Mario Balotelli restored Inter's advantage three minutes before half-time and Esteban Cambiasso sealed the win in the 72nd minute to enable Inter to prepare for Tuesday's UEFA Champions League match with Barcelona having established a comfortable lead at the top of their domestic championship.
Inter defender Maicon spoilt his side's evening when he received a red card in stoppage time for insulting one of the referee's assistants.
It was clear from the way Bologna lined up that they did not rate their chances very highly. They left Zalayeta alone up front and put ten men behind the ball, and Inter were happy to attack.
The first moment of danger in front of Emiliano Viviano's goal came in the 13th minute when the Bologna goalkeeper could only parry Cristian Chivu's shot to Cambiasso, but there were no takers for his inviting cross into the centre. Thiago Motta headed straight at Viviano from close range as Inter threatened with a corner from the right.
The next corner from the same side heralded the opening goal with Motta again given space for the header, but this time the ball was off target and reached Lucio who headed it back to Milito, who turned and blasted the ball into the roof of the net.
Before Inter could reorganise at the back, Zalayeta had found space between Walter Samuel and Lucio to latch on to Adailton's long ball forward and bring Bologna level. His first touch to control the ball was excellent and made the room for him to beat Julio Cesar into the top right-hand corner of his goal.
Balotelli wasted the chance to put Inter ahead in the 29th minute when he broke free, but he delayed his shot too long with just Viviano to beat and, when he finally did decide to pull the trigger, the Bologna goalkeeper had an easy save. Dejan Stankovic could hardly have come any closer to scoring in the 36th minute, when his shot hit both posts before Viviano dived on the loose ball almost in disbelief just ahead of Cambiasso.
But Inter got the lead they deserved in the 42nd minute from another corner. This time it was Balotelli who found room unmarked in the centre of the six-yard box and he directed his header just to the left of Viviano.
Inter continued their dominance into the second half, with Samuel Eto'o setting up Milito whose shot was flicked instinctively on to the crossbar by Viviano. Stankovic had a volley saved by the Bologna custodian just before Cambiasso finally put the result beyond doubt in the 72nd minute.
Miguel Britos hesitated and left a cross from Milito without realising that Cambiasso was just behind him, and the Argentinian took the invitation to place his shot into the far corner. The only sour note on an easy evening for Inter came in stoppage time when Maicon was given his marching orders for a verbal tirade at an assistant referee.