Inter reclaimed top spot in Serie A after a first-half strike from Geoffrey Kondogbia earned them a hard-fought 1-0 win at Torino.
The visitors headed to the Stadio Olimpico di Torino boasting an unbeaten away record this term and showed their now customary defensive resolve to grind out their seventh 1-0 victory of the campaign.
With previous leaders Fiorentina not in action at Sampdoria until later on Sunday, the three points were enough to lift Roberto Mancini’s men back into pole position.
The result marked Torino’s first home defeat of the season and stretched their winless streak to an alarming six games, although they did strike the woodwork and have two strong penalty claims turned down.
Giampiero Ventura’s men also went close in the second half through Fabio Quagliarella and were a touch unfortunate not to bounce back from last weekend’s derby defeat against Juventus by picking up at least a point.
After a forgettable opening 10 minutes, it was Inter who carved out the first meaningful chance, Kondogbia getting away down the left and drilling in a dangerous cross that was helped on by Felipe Melo before Mauro Icardi eventually looped his header over the crossbar.
Torino had to wait until the 20th minute for their first sight of goal, Bruno Peres firing wildly over after a surging run that took him from inside the centre circle to the edge of the box.
The home side then went agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock on the half-hour mark as Marco Benassi rattled the crossbar with a superb 20-yard curler after Inter had only managed to half-clear a corner.
Two minutes later, however, it was Inter who got their noses in front courtesy of the lively Kondogbia.
Torino were guilty of switching off as they attempted to defend a Yuto Nagatomo free-kick, completely failing to track Kondogbia’s run at the far post and allowing the Frenchman to volley home his first goal of the season from close range.
Stung by that setback, the hosts finished the first half on the front foot and had a decent penalty claim waved away when Jeison Murillo appeared to bring down Andrea Belotti in the box.
Ventura’s men started the second half in a similar vein and almost levelled things up after 48 minutes. Cristian Molinaro’s cross-shot was volleyed goalward by Quagliarella, Samir Handanovic parried the shot and Belotti was just unable to force home the loose ball from right on the line.
With the game starting to open up, Handanovic was forced into action to deny Quagliarella for a second time moments later, while at the other end, Nagatomo flashed a long-range shot narrowly wide of the target following a swift Inter break.
The officials then infuriated the home fans for a second time when substitute Maxi Lopez appeared to be impeded by Miranda as he prepared to shoot, but no penalty was forthcoming.
The industrious Quagliarella was next to test Inter’s impressively solid defence, but Handanovic got down well to tip his low shot around the post.
Torino continued to throw bodies forward in the closing stages, but the visitors calmly saw out the final few minutes to secure an eighth victory from 12 league games.
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