After their 1-1 draw with Bologna last week, Roberto Donadoni made just two changes to his Parma side, bringing in Marco Parolo and Antonio Cassano for Afriyie Acquah and Ezequiel Schelotto. Walter Mazzarri made just the one enforced change following Inter's 4-0 destruction of Sampdoria, the suspended Andrea Ranocchia making way for Hugo Campagnaro.
After a slow start for both sides, it was Parma who managed to carve out the first real opportunity of the match, Antonio Cassano took Raffaelle Palladino's cross from the left, but his finish ended up well wide of Samir Handanović's post.
Inter began to put on the pressure around the half-hour mark, carving out a number of opportunities. First, Mauro Icardi's near-post header from a Hernanes corner hit the side netting. Then a fierce Rodrigo Palacio volley was parried over by Antonio Mirante and Esteban Cambiasso had an effort from 18 yards well saved by the Parma custodian.
Parma managed to weather the storm and had a golden chance to open the scoring just before halftime, as Marco Parolo was felled in the area by Walter Samuel in what looked like an accidental collision. The referee, Gianluca Rocchi, pointed straight to the penalty spot. Antonio Cassano stepped up but his low effort was tipped on to the post by Handanović, and Palladino put the follow-up well wide.
At the other end just a minute later, Esteban Cambiasso was twice denied by Mirante, although the goalkeeper knew little about his second stop as the ball hit the inside of the post, then bounced past the post off his back.
Within a minute of play resuming for the second half, Parma were reduced to ten men as Gabriel Paletta was given his second booking for a foul on Rodrigo Palacio. It proved to be even more costly when Hernanes whipped the resulting free-kick to an unmarked Rolando at the back post, who powered a diving header high past Mirante to give Inter the lead.
Despite being a man short, Parma continued to attack and they came as close as can be to an equaliser ten minutes later, Alessandro Lucarelli rising above Walter Samuel to head against the crossbar. Substitute Felipe shinned the rebound well over the bar.
As hard as they tried, Parma just couldn't exert any influence over proceedings and Inter were looking increasingly comfortable in protecting their lead as the match wore on and in the penultimate minute of normal time, Fredy Guarín made sure of the result, scoring with his second touch as he lashed home from 25 yards to put Inter in control of their European hopes for next season.
Parma: Mirante; Cassani, Paletta (red 46'), Lucarelli, Molinaro (Schelotto 63' (Amauri 73')); Gargano, Marchionni, Parolo; Biabiany, Cassano, Palladino (Felipe 50')
Inter: Handanović; Campagnaro, Samuel, Rolando; D'Ambrosio (Zanetti 59'), Hernanes (Guarín 88'), Kovačić, Cambiasso, Nagatomo; Icardi (Botta 81'), Palacio
Goals: Rolando (48'), Guarín (89')