Inter Milan kept tabs on the early Scudetto pace setters Napoli and Juventus with a 1-0 win over nine-man Genoa thanks to a late header from Danilo D’Ambrosio, which extended the Black and Blues’ impressive unbeaten record over their opponents to 12 games at San Siro.
It looked as though the lacklustre Cherished Ones were going to have to settle for a point following a below-par display, however an actioned packed final few moments, which resulted in the match-winning goal and debutant Stephane Omeonga and Adel Taarabt both seeing red for separate incidents, meant the Serie A giants stay third in the table.
The hosts almost secured the perfect start as Dalbret Estevao found some space down the right-hand side inside the opening minute before whipping in a teasing ball which eventually found its way through to Ivan Perisic on the edge of the area.
The 28-year-old’s heavy chested touch lofted the ball into the air, but a speculative twisting volley came inches away from nestling into Mattia Perin’s top right-hand corner, however only skimmed the roof of the net on its way behind.
But for the remainder of the half Inter struggled to implement any sort of tempo or impact into the game, with the visitors quite happy to soak up the pressure before using their minimal possession to create half-chances.
However, the Red and Blues were left kicking themselves five minutes before break as Davide Biraschi floated an inviting cross in behind the Inter defence into the path of Pietro Pellegri, but the youngster wasn’t able to get enough purchase on his diving header and the ball drifted harmlessly wide.
Genoa continued to enjoy their first spell of dominance as the final moments of the first half ticked by, and Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic was the only thing that came between the visitors and the lead after the custodian produced a superb diving save which denied a long-range blockbuster from Taarabt.
However, as the first 45 entered its final additional minute it was the home side’s turn to almost break the deadlock, with Marcelo Brozovic picking up a loose ball on the edge of area before cannoning his attempt goal-wards – only for the beautifully struck shot to rebound away from Perin’s left-hand upright.
Similar to the first half, the opening minute of the second provided a real goal threat, but this time it was the visitors whose attempt was inches away from notching the opener.
Smart work from debutant Omeonga on the right-hand side allowed the 21-year-old to deliver a deep ball which was met on the volley by Diego Laxalt, but the Uruguayan could not divert his wickedly-struck effort on target.
Again similarly to the opening 45 minutes, the majority of the half was one where any real skill or quality was hard to come by, however with less than five minutes remaining D’Ambrosio was on hand to turn in substitute Joao Mario’s corner at the far post – sparking scenes of relief throughout the majority of San Siro.
Unfortunately the pain for Genoa, who had given an excellent account of themselves up until this point, didn’t stop there, as both Omeonga and Taarabt were shown straight red cards on separate occasions for a last-man professional foul and a two-footed lunge respectively.
However, the win for Inter keeps them third in the table, now just two points behind leading pack Juventus and Napoli with a extremely winnable trip to Benevento up next for Luciano Spalletti’s men.