Inter Milan vs. Chievo: Final score 3-1, Inter lift themselves from their crisis

Claudio Villa

Inter Milan registered only their second victory since the turn of the year against Chievo. Diego Milito announced his return from injury with a goal and Dejan Stankovic gave the Inter fans something to cheer with his first appearance of the season.

Inter made three changes from the side that went down 3-1 to Siena, with Walter Gargano and Esteban Cambiasso coming in for the suspended Cristian Chivu and Fredy Guarin, whilst Diego Milito returned from injury to replace Ezequiel Schelotto. The suspension of Chivu also mean Andrea Stramaccioni deserted his 3-4-3 for a more conventional 4-3-3 formation. Chievo made only one change from the side the narrowly lost to Juventus the previous week, Felipe Seymour playing in place of Mario Sampirisi.

Inter got off to the best possible start, going ahead inside two minutes. Antonio Cassano's corner was met first by Andrea Ranocchia, then by Juan Jesus however it was cleared out as far as Cassano. The Italian then drilled the ball goalwards and what should have been a routine save for Christian Puggioni at his near post went somewhat awry, the ball wriggling through his hands and into the net to give the hosts an early lead.

Chievo settled into the match quickly following the goal and began to knock the ball around calmly, pushing Inter back well into their half. Felipe Seymour fired a warning shot wide from 25 yards and Francesco Acerbi's cushioned header went inches past the post following a Cyril Thereau free kick.

The Flying Donkeys were finally rewarded for their pressure with a goal. Bojan Jokic was regularly getting forward from left back and it was his cross that was met by the head of a completely unmarked Luca Rigoni. The midfielder managed to ghost into the box whilst Andrea Ranocchia and Juan Jesus stood like statues, once again exposing the frailties at centre back for Andrea Stramaccioni's side.

Conceding appeared to galvanise Inter and they began to stream forward with purpose, Esteban Cambiasso breaking forward from midfield to get on the end of Antonio Cassano's through ball, but his shot was saved by Puggioni. The resulting corner was cleared for another and it was from this second corner that Inter retook the lead. Cassano whipped in an outswinging delivery deep into the box, and Andrea Ranocchia rose highest to power a stunning header past Puggioni from all of 13 yards.

Inter began to pile on the pressure and Walter Gargano had two good opportunities to extend the lead before half time, his close range effort was saved by Puggioni following a swift counter attack and he then crashed a 25-yard free kick off the post with Puggioni rooted.

Five minutes after the break and Inter were two goals up. Esteban Cambiasso once again broke forward from midfield and squared the ball for Diego Milito just inside the box. With three defenders around him, the Argentine forward calmly took a touch and buried the ball into the side netting with his second, displaying the kind of lethal finishing that Inter sorely missed during his injury absence.

Inter were now looking comfortable and although Chievo continued to come forward in search of a way back into the match, they were limited to half-chances. The Nerazzuri, on the other hand, looked hungry for more goals, and Rodrigo Palacio's intelligent run was found by Cambiasso, Puggioni getting down well to deny him from close range. Palacio was trying his hardest to get on to the scoresheet, curling over with his left foot after the ball bobbled up off the turf and twice being denied by Puggioni in the space of a matter of seconds.

Inter eventually comfortably held on, only a late Acerbi free kick threatening Samir Handanovic's goal, but it skimmed just wide to lift Inter out of their 'crisis' and put them right back into contention for the Champions League places, just one point from third-placed Lazio.

Inter: Handanovic; Zanetti, Ranocchia, Juan, Nagatomo; Gargano, Cambiasso (Stankovic 76), Kuzmanovic (Schelotto 85); Milito (Alvarez 65), Palacio, Cassano

Chievo: Puggioni; Andreolli, Acerbi, Danielli, Jokic; Seymour (Luciano 70), Cofie (Spyropoulos 64), Rigoni, Hetemaj; Paloschi (Pellissier 76), Thereau

Goals: Cassano 2 (I), Rigoni 21 (C), Ranocchia 26 (I), Milito 50 (I)

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