Inter Milan overcame a spirited performance from Bologna to grind out a 2-1 victory at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara, keeping a grip on their nine point lead at the top of Serie A.
The first half was a fairly dull affair with Zlatan Ibrahimovic forcing a save from Francesco Antonioli early on. Moments later the Swede slotted Sulley Muntari through on goal but the Ghanaian saw his effort rise into the stands.
Marco Di Vaio was a constant aerial threat for Bologna but failed to properly test Julio Cesar in the opening 45. So no goals at the break and judging by the scrappy performances of both sides, it looked set to stay that way.
But the second half was far more entertaining and saw many more chances created at both ends. Inter took the lead on 57 when Adriano headed Douglas Maicon’s corner goalwards before Cambiasso finished well from close range. Replays later showed that Adriano had handled the ball before it fell to the Argentinian.
However Bologna were not discouraged, and the home side equalised with ten minutes left on the clock when Miguel Angel Britos headed in superbly from Valiani’s corner.
Inter somehow found themselves in front again just two minutes later when substitute Mario Balotelli whipped in a free-kick that evaded everyone and crept teasingly into the far post.
JoseÃ‚Â Mourinho’s side were made to sweat during the final few moments of the match as the home side piled on the pressure and came close to drawing level again on a number of occasions. Julio Cesar was in stunning form throughout the game and produced an outstanding save from a Marco Di Vaio header in the 87th minute.
But Inter rode out the storm and took all three points to further cement their position at the summit of Serie A, still nine points ahead of Juventus.
Bologna, who held a minute’s silence before kick off in memory of former player Giacomo Bulgarelli, currently sit in 16th place in Serie A.
Speaking to the media after the game, an upbeat JoseÃ‚Â MourinhoÃ‚Â said: “I’m pleased with this victory because it came against an opponent in great form who created great difficulties for us. They are a very organised team in defence and that mirrors the qualities of their coach.”
Bologna manager, Sinisa Mihajlovic, was disappointed with the result: “It’s a shame because it was a good performance. We closed down the space well and after having equalised, I thought we could have won it. Instead they retook the lead. You’ve got to give credit to Julio Cesar, the fact that he was the best player on the pitch is telling.”
Inter’s next match is against Premier League leaders Manchester United in the Champions League on Tuesday night in Milan. And United also ran out 2-1 winners in a tricky game against a gutsy Blackburn Rovers side at Old Trafford on Saturday evening.
Antonioli, Zenoni, Moras, Britos, Lanna, Valiani (Marazzina, 65), Mudingayi, Volpi, Mingazzini, Bombardini (Adailton, 78), Di Vaio.
Julio Cesar, Maicon, Rivas, Cordoba, Santon, Zanetti, Cambiasso, Maxwell (Balotelli, 80), Muntari (Stankovic, 46), Ibrahimovic, Adriano (Vieira, 77).
Referee: Ayroldi di Molfetta
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