Inter struck twice in four second-half minutes to beat Bologna 2-1 in Serie A on Saturday and boost their Champions League qualification hopes.
Roberto Mancini’s side went into the match five points behind third-placed Roma, but gave themselves a lift ahead of next week’s trip to the capital despite a largely lacklustre display at San Siro.
Maurco Icardi’s early injury came as a blow to a side who have struggled to find a consistent goal threat this season, though Bologna, who had drawn their last three league games 0-0, were too often disappointing in the final third to take advantage.
Adem Ljajic and Ivan Perisic came close with efforts from distance, but goalkeepers Antonio Mirante and Samir Handanovic enjoyed a fairly quiet 90 minutes, with Bologna’s Godfred Donsah wasting presentable chances at the start of each half.
But Perisic turned home following a corner to give Inter the lead and Danilo D’Ambrosio steered in a volley just four minutes later to put Inter in command.
Franco Brienza pulled one back in the final minute, but it was too late to trouble Inter, who put the pressure back on Roma ahead of their meeting with Udinese on Sunday.
— F.C. Internazionale (@Inter_en) March 12, 2016
Icardi was forced to go off with a knee problem after stretching to reach Eder’s shot across goal, with Geoffrey Kondogbia replacing the captain in a tactical reshuffle from Mancini.
Bologna lost Mattia Destro to a knock not long afterwards and both sides struggled to find their feet in disjointed opening exchanges, though Donsah blasted a good chance wide on the counter-attack for the visitors.
Ljajic came close as he forced Mirante into a fingertip save at his near post, before Marcelo Brozovic flicked the ball just wide from a Ljajic cross as Inter finished the half on the front foot.
D’Ambrosio rifled an overhead kick narrowly wide following a corner, but Bologna looked the more likely to break the deadlock early in the second half and Donsah should have done better when he smashed the ball across goal and out of play with Sergio Floccari unmarked just a few yards from goal.
Perisic whistled a shot wide of the far post after cutting in from the left as Inter tried to up the tempo again and the Croatia international broke the deadlock at last after 72 minutes as the home side made their spell of pressure tell.
Bologna failed to deal with a deep corner and Perisic was perfectly placed to nod the ball into the net from just a couple of yards out at the near post.
Just four minutes later, San Siro breathed a sigh of relief as Inter grabbed their second – Miranda headed down to D’Ambrosio who, unmarked in the middle of the box, volleyed into the far corner past a motionless Mirante.
Bologna grabbed a late lifeline when Brienza collected Luca Rizzo’s pass before firing a deflected shot which looped into the far corner from the edge of the box, but Inter held out for three important points.
Key Opta Stats:
– Inter have won their four last home Serie A matches in a row for the first time since 2012.
– Bologna have not conceded goal in the first half in 24 games – a record in this season’s Serie A.
– Ivan Perisic has scored three goals and made two assists in his last six Serie A appearances.
– Danilo D’Ambrosio has scored three Serie A goals against Bologna, more than any other team in the top Italian league.