Inter Milan vs Genoa, Final Score 1-1: Grifone gift Juventus an early Christmas surprise

Claudio Villa

Gigi Delneri may have bought himself another week in charge of Genoa as his side withstood a late Inter barrage to hold on for a point at the San Siro.

Genoa took the lead through Ciro Immobile in the second half, only for Cambiasso to level minutes later. By the end of the game Inter Milan had created ample opportunities to take the lead, though thanks to their profligate finishing they had to settle for a point.

Nerazzurri coach Andrea Stramaccioni surprised in his selection by ditching the 3-4-3 in favour of a 4-2-3-1, as Ricky Alvarez got the nod on the left of the midfield trio -- though was brought off with injury mid-way through the first half. Gigi Delneri looked to suffocate the hosts' creativity by ditching his beloved 4-4-2 in favour of a 4-1-4-1. For the first half, at least, it proved brutally effective.

Sitting deep before counter-attacking through the impressively energetic right-midfielder Marco Rossi, Genoa created the best early chance, though the grifone captain's early cross in the opening few minutes wasn't met in the box.

In an end-to-end start, Inter could have taken the lead themselves inside the opening five minutes. Antonio Cassano - drifting over to his favoured left side -- managed to curl a cross into the box, though -- as with Genoa's chance moments earlier -- it somehow evaded the attackers.

Gradually the game settled into a rhythm, with Genoa dropping so deep keeper Sebastien Frey was getting claustrophobic. Nevertheless, Inter could have taken the lead again through a chance via another Cassano cross minutes later. This time it did meet a player in the area, though after his diagonal run inside, Rodrigo Palacio couldn't get enough on the ball to squeeze it in.

Inter's central defensive duo were largely effective at breaking up any counter-attacks the disciplined side created, and it took half-an-hour before Genoa tested Samir Handanović for the first time. Ciro Immobile found some space on the edge of the area and stroked the ball to the keeper's left, as he made a sprawling save to keep the scores level.

Genoa's defensive solidarity was quickly out of the window soon after the second half started, as Rodrigo Palacio squeezed through on goal just minutes after the restart. However, the Argentine blazed over the bar under pressure.

Palacio had the best chance of the match moments later, but once again failed to capitalise. A perfectly weighted chipped ball from his compatriot Diego Milito saw Palacio through on goal, though he volleyed straight at Frey before Milito blazed the rebound over.

With Inter now dominating the game, it came as a huge shock when the away side took the lead. Ciro Immobile -- who was having an excellent game -- picked the ball up wide with no-one in support, before charging towards goal, holding off Ranocchia and poking past Handanović for 1-0.

But, with the goal coming with 15 minutes to go, there was ample time for Inter to draw level. With five minutes of the regulation 90 remaining, they did. Esteban Cambiasso met a cross from the left perfectly, arrowing a header beyond Frey.

The Inter onslaught continued, and they should have taken the lead as substitute Marko Livaja made a late bid for worst miss of 2012 in the dying moments. Latching onto a drilled Milito cross from the left, Livaja -- who was practically stood on the goal line -- contrived to smash the ball against the post, as Inter's poor league form continued.

Inter Milan (4-2-3-1): Handanović; Juan Jesus (Chivu 46), Samuel, Ranocchia, Zanetti; Cambiasso, Gargano (Livaja 78); Álvarez (Pereira 31), Cassano, Palacio; Milito

Genoa (4-1-4-1): Frey; Antonelli, Granqvist, Canini, Sampirisi; Tőzsér; Vargas, Bertolacci (Anselmo 69) (Krajnc 91), Kucka, Rossi (Piscitella 72); Immobile

Goals: Immobile 77 (G) Cambiasso 85 (I)

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