Leaders Inter maintained their 100 per cent start at the top of Serie A with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Verona at San Siro.
Felipe Melo’s second-half header was enough to seal a fifth consecutive victory as Inter equalled their club record start to a league season, the winner arriving moments after Verona’s Jacopo Sala saw a vicious strike cannon off the crossbar.
That was as close as the visitors, missing talismanic striker Luca Toni, came to troubling Roberto Mancini’s men, who will now be quietly confident of mounting a serious title challenge.
Despite their impressive form coming into Wednesday’s contest, Inter were slow out of the blocks, with Verona – who made five changes from the draw with Atalanta – doing well to frustrate Mancini’s side during a largely uneventful opening 15 minutes.
The visitors were dealt a blow five minutes later when Giampaolo Pazzini, in for the injured Toni, was forced off with an apparent ankle problem.
Inter nearly took advantage after 22 minutes, with Fredy Guarin seeing a low effort blocked on the edge of the area, before Ivan Perisic forced a smart save from goalkeeper Rafael.
The Brazilian was called into action again after half an hour, this time denying Alex Telles, while Geoffrey Kondogbia nearly capitalised on a defensive lapse following Davide Santon’s cross 10 minutes before the break, only for his acrobatic half-volley to whistle over the bar from six yards.
Verona looked to have weathered the storm and came close to taking the lead when Sala rattled the woodwork nine minutes after the break, but Inter soon picked up the pace again and found a breakthrough just before the hour when Melo rose highest to head home a teasing Telles corner.
Inter came close to doubling their lead on 64 minutes when Perisic was denied by Rafael at the near post, but Verona refused to allow the floodgates to be opened and should have levelled 15 minutes from time.
A superb run saw Leandro Greco weave in from the left to tee up Luca Siligardi inside the area, only for the substitute to fire wide.
Mauro Icardi saw an effort smothered at the other end two minutes later as Inter remained threatening but, for the third game on the bounce, one goal proved enough for Inter to seal victory.
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