Inter Milan vs. Livorno: Final score 2-0, Javier Zanetti returns as Inter cruise to victory

Claudio Villa

Javier Zanetti's appearance off the bench was the highlight of Inter's mostly-boring 2-0 win over Livorno.

Inter Milan cruised to a 2-0 win over Livorno on Saturday night, continuing their impressive run of form. It was a fairly routine and unspectacular victory, save for the late cameo from nerazzurri captain Javier Zanetti; back after more than half a year on the sidelines through injury.

More from our team blogs: Inter Milan blog Inter Offside

Inter dominated the game right from the outset, though it played in front of the Livorno defence; struggling to break through the determined amaranto ranks. Unfortunately that was the case for pretty much the entire first half, with only the odd cross whipped in from deep causing the visitors any problems.

The hosts needed a helping hand from their young goalkeeper on loan at Livorno, Francesco Bardi, to finally break the deadlock. Just short of the half hour mark, a low cross from nerazzurri wing-back Jonathan was pounced upon by the Italy U21 international, who unfortunately could only divert the ball backwards into his own goal.

Up until that point, Livorno's stifling tactic had proved effective. Inter found themselves in front without having recorded a single shot on target.  Before the first half was out they did at least record a shot on goal, with Bardi making a fantastic diving stop in stoppage time to keep out Ricky Álvarez's shot towards the far post.

Inter's control of the game continued after the restart, with Rodrigo Palacio squandering a great chance to kill Livorno off 20 minutes into the second half. Yuto Nagatomo wriggled down the left and flashed a low cross into the six-yard box, though Bardi was on hand to make a great save on the Argentine's near-post flick.

Esteban Cambiasso also had a great opportunity to seal the victory inside the final 20 minutes, though his shot from inside the area was tame, and comfortably held by Bardi. As the clock ticked on neither side looked likely to produce another goal, though the home fans cheered like Inter had scored a second when captain Zanetti was substituted on inside the final ten minutes after more than six months on the sidelines.

In stoppage time they did actually have a second goal to cheer, with Nagatomo capitalizing on some great work from young substitute Mateo Kovačić to double Inter's advantage. Of course, Zanetti was involved in the build-up. It capped a routine victory for the in-form nerazzurri, but one made much more special by El Tractor firing up once again.

Inter Milan: Handanović; Samuel, Rolando, Ranocchia; Nagatomo, Álvarez (Kovačić 59'), Cambiasso, Taïder (Zanetti 82'), Jonathan; Guarín (Belfodil 71'); Palacio.

Goals: Bardi o.g. (30'), Nagatomo (90+1).

Livorno: Bardi; Valentini, Emerson, Ceccherini; Gemiti (Borja 87'), Luci, Duncan (Benassi 46'), Schiattarella, Mbaye; Paulinho, Siligardi (Emeghara 65').

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