During José Mourinho’s first season at Inter the club got off to a flying start, leading the league table and piling up 60 points through twenty-six rounds while only losing twice.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic led the way with fourteen goals, however going into the round twenty-seven match against Genoa at Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Mario Balotelli was the man in form, bagging three goals in previous three matches including a brace at home against AS Roma the week before.
Awaiting the visitors and league leaders were Gian Piero Gasperini’s Genoa side enjoying one of their best seasons in Italian top-flight.
The dynamic and attack-minded side were on a quest to finish inside top five and qualify for European competition in the following season.
Leading the charge for the home side was Diego Milito in attack along with Thiago Motta as the star midfielder in Gasperini’s line-up.
Despite being the home side, Genoa were huge underdogs against league leaders and were heading into the game maintaining back-to-back clean sheets.
Lining up for Gasperini’s side were Rubinho, Matteo Ferrari, Giuseppe Biava, Salvatore Bocchetti, Domenico Criscito, Thiago Motta, , Juric, Jankovic, Diego Milito and Giuseppe Sculli.
Mourinho countered that formation with Julio Cesar, Marco Materazzi, Nicolas Burdisso, Javier Zanetti, Maicon, Davide Santon, Esteban Cambiasso, Luis Figo, Dejan Stankovic, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Mario Balotelli.
The visitors got a dream start against a resurgent Genoa side, scoring the go-ahead goal inside the first two minutes. During a counter-attack opportunity earlier, on Dejan Stankovic’s lobbed pass behind the defenders, found the well-timed run of Ibrahimovic who scored a beautifully timed chipped shot over the on-rushing goal-keeper.
The world-class finish gave Inter a boost of confidence, however Genoa came right back and played attacking football to put pressure on the Nerazzurri in their attempt to bring the game back on level terms.
Gasperini’s men tested Julio Cesar from every angle possible, from long-balls lobbed passes into the box for Diego Milito, to quick passing sequences around the penalty box to create scoring opportunities.
Throughout all of the Rossoblù scoring opportunities in first-half, Julio Cesar’s acrobatic saves kept the clean sheet intact for the visitors.
Failing to break the Nerazzurri defenses, in first half, Gasperini committed more men forward into the box and relied on steady delivery from Thiago Motta and Domenico Criscito.
After the initial failure of long-ball tactics, Diego Milito started dropping back a bit more, drawing out defenders and allowing wingbacks and midfielder to make runs into the box to unlock Inter defenses. This strategy was causing problems for the Inter defenses. The lethal right foot of Milito always posed a danger.
However, before the home side could draw level, quick passing sequence on the other end between Zlatan and Balotelli led to Inter’s second goal of the match.
Following a free kick from Julio Cesar, Ibrahimovic headed the ball to find the cutting inside run of Balotelli who scored his fourth goal in as many games.
Being down two and able to retain most of the possession, Genoa kept pressing the Nerazzurri backline. Milito continued to drop deeper and created space for midfielders.
However Julio Cesar’s brilliance was of no match for the home side, as Inter walked away from Stadio Luigi Ferraris with three crucial points.