Following a strong recent run going unbeaten in four matches, Giuseppe Sannino left his side largely unchanged from the derby draw with Catania, only changing Egido Arevalo Rios for Ezequiel Munoz and Fabrizio Miccoli playing in place of Mauro Boselli. Much to Andrea Stramaccioni's relief, Inter got through their last fixture without incurring any further injuries and only a tactical reshuffle sees Matias Silvestre replace Ezequiel Schelotto as Inter switched from 4-4-2 to 3-5-2.
Palermo were out of the blocks quicker than their more illustrious visitors, Fabrizio Miccoli forcing the first save of the match out of Samir Handanovic after Santiago Garcia turned inside Javier Zanetti down the left hand side. The Inter captain then went on a marauding run from Handanovic's delivery and unleashed a rare shot of his own from 25 yards, forcing a save out of Stefano Sorrentino at the other end.
After just ten minutes, Palermo were ahead. Matias Silvestre attempted to clear the ball from inside his own box however he lost his footing and Fabrizio Miccoli was able to scramble in front of him to retrieve the ball. The Palermo captain then laid off for the in-form Josip Ilicic, his shot leaving his compatriot Handanovic rooted to the spot.
Inter, already with massive injury problems, were dealt a hammer blow after just 17 minutes. An innocuous-looking challenge by Salvatore Aronica saw Javier Zanetti hobbling off the pitch, and the Inter captain was stretchered off in obvious pain. Unconfirmed reports suggest Zanetti, who has missed just nine league matches since 2007, has an achilles tendon problem which could be a big problem for him at the age of 39. Ezequiel Schelotto replaced him.
Ricky Alvarez went close just after the half hour mark, a brilliant touch took down Alvaro Pereira's cross but his shot on the turn was scuffed and the ball bobbled just wide, Tommaso Rocchi shooting straight at Sorrentino with a similar effort.
If ever a graphic illustration if Inter's injury woes was needed, it was this match. Faced with a Palermo team battling against relegation, they simply couldn't break them down and Palermo were being made to look like a very solid defensive unit.
The second half continued in this fashion, with Inter easily out-possessing the Rosanero but lacking any kind of movement or energy in the final third to fashion any meaningful chances aside from long-range efforts.
Palermo were threatening on the break and Fabrizio Miccoli forced an acrobatic save out of Handanovic after teeing up his own volley.
Inter's best chance of the second half came after the Palermo midfield gave the ball away cheaply, Ricky Alvarez easily beating Salvtore Aronica in the box but his effort with his weaker right foot sailed well over the bar when it looked easier to score.
Despite Inter throwing more and more men forward, Palermo were still easily soaking up all their pressure and Inter never really looked like scoring at any point. Abel Hernandez had a chance to put the match to bed on the break but his shot whistled just wide and Palermo held on for a vital victory that lifts them out of the relegation zone following Siena's loss to Roma. Inter meanwhile are slipping further and further away from the European places and the loss of their inspirational captain Zanetti means that things are looking pretty bleak for the Nerazzuri.
Palermo: Sorrentino; Von Bergen, Donati, Aronica; Morganella, Barreto, Arevalo Rios, Kurtic, Garcia (Nelson 80); Ilicic (Hernandez 72), Miccoli (Munoz 87)
Inter: Handanovic; Ranocchia, Silvestre (Garritano 70), Juan Jesus; Jonathan, Zanetti (Schelotto 17), Kuzmanovic (Forte 87), Kovacic, Pereira; Rocchi, Alvarez
Goals: Ilicic 10 (P)