Inter made it four wins from four in Serie A as Mauro Icardi’s first goal of the campaign ensured a 1-0 victory over Chievo at the Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi on Sunday.
Roberto Mancini’s new-look side have made an impressive start to the season and followed up their Milan derby victory last time out with a hard-fought win over second-placed Chievo.
Icardi’s winner came at the end of a first half in which Rolando Maran’s men had largely dominated, with the hosts unable to continue their early-season scoring streak off the back of a 1-1 draw with champions Juventus.
Instead Icardi gave Inter a somewhat undeserved half-time lead in Verona before Mancini’s men relied on a new-found defensive strength to claim maximum points.
Alberto Paloschi provided Chievo’s greatest threat, but was thwarted, while the visitors were dealt a potential blow with Jeison Murillo’s injury-enforced withdrawal.
It was the hosts – missing injured pair Miranda and Juan Jesus – who had the first effort on target as Lucas Castro’s ambitious volley was collected by Samir Handanovic.
The in-form Stevan Jovetic saw his lob creep over the crossbar at the other end, but Mancini’s side struggled to find their feet going forward for much of the half.
Maran’s men remained resolute at the back and would have led were it not for Gary Medel clearing a dangerous Paloschi cross with Riccardo Meggiorini awaiting a tap-in five minutes after the half-hour mark.
However, Inter broke the deadlock against the run of play courtesy of a cool Icardi finish four minutes before the break.
Massimo Gobbi failed to clear Geoffrey Kondogbia’s clipped delivery, allowing Icardi to cut inside onrushing goalkeeper Albano Bizzarri and open his account for the season.
Handanovic was required to deny Valter Birsa and Castro before the interval and Chievo again went close to levelling when Paloschi fired a shot narrowly over from inside the area early in the second half.
Mancini watched on as Murillo limped off after the hour – potentially adding to Inter’s defensive injury woes – as the visitors’ limited attempts to put the game to bed were denied by an organised Chievo defence.
Chievo substitute Roberto Inglese went close before seeing play pulled back for a foul in the area, while Ivan Perisic spurned the chance of a second for Inter when he burst clear only to see a shot blocked with Rodrigo Palacio free in the box.
Bostjan Cesar glanced a header wide of Handanovic’s right-hand post late on, but Icardi’s strike proved enough as Inter strengthened their position as early pacesetters.