Inter outclassed league new boys Delfino Pescara 1936 2-0 at the San Siro on Saturday to move two places up to third and close the gap to leaders Juventus to six points.
Juventus were away to Parma yesterday, but were expected to pick up three points against a side they beat 2-0 at home on the opening day of the season in August last year.
SS Lazio remain second, five points shy of Juventus, ahead of the visit of Atalanta BC yesterday. SSC Napoli sit fourth at seven points adrift ahead of their hosting of US Citta di Palermo.
Earlier on Saturday, Bologna picked up only their sixth win of the season when they dominated AC Chievo Verona 4-0 at home, with a brace coming from striker Alberto Gilardino, to move up two places to 13th.
Meanwhile, Inter put the distraction of the Wesley Sneijder transfer saga and several absences due to injury behind them in a workmanlike performance in their first home game of the year.
Nerazzurri coach Andrea Stramaccioni started with Diego Milito on the bench and was without his fellow Argentinian, injured defender Walter Samuel.
Defender Andrea Ranocchia and Juan Jesus were both suspended, and Dejan Stankovic, Luca Castellazzi, Ricky Alvarez and Yuto Nagatomo joined Samuel on the injured list.
It meant Stramaccioni handed a Serie A debut to Marco Benassi, and the 18-year-old defender did not disappoint as Inter put the memory of last week’s 3-0 humbling at Udinese behind them.
“We’re happy because despite having so many players unavailable we played a creative game and gave very little away,” Stramaccioni said.
Rodrigo Palacio made sure an Argentinian got on the scoresheet when he broke the deadlock on the half hour.
Romanian Christian Chivu, making a rare appearance in a makeshift three-man defense with midfielder Esteban Cambiasso and Matias Silvestre, got the ball rolling for the opener when surged forward to feed Antonio Cassano.
The pacy No. 10 found Palacio, who controlled, turned and beat Pescara keeper Mattia Perin with a low right-foot drive.
Pescara were creating few chances and their hopes of an upset appeared dead and buried when in the 54th minute Colombian Freddy Guarin doubled the score when he tapped home Palacio’s pass from just in front of goal.
Barely a minute later a surge forward by Cassano saw the striker feed Guarin. The ball rolled into the path of Palacio, but the Argentine’s strike was blocked by defender Marco Capuano.
Inter’s tactics of stifling Pescara’s rare attacks and then launching incisive counter-attacks was efficient, but their search for a third goal fizzled out.
Pescara’s 12th defeat of the season left them fifth from bottom.
Inter are hoping Sneijder agrees terms with Galatasaray after the Turkish giants agreed a transfer fee for the Dutch international.
The Dutchman, one of the club’s top performers in recent years, is effectively being squeezed out of the club for refusing to drastically cut his annual salary of 6 million euros (US$8 million).