An imperious Inter side ran out the clear winner at San Siro against an under-par Pescara, winning 2-0 to keep alive their hopes of making a late challenge for the title. Follow GOAL.COM on Twitter
Rodrigo Palacio opened the scoring for the Italian giant after 30 minutes, before setting up Fredy Guarin for the home team's second to put the result beyond doubt.
Needing a win to keep up the pressure on Serie A leader Juventus, the Nerazzurri began Saturday's clash in bullish fashion and pushed men forward in search of an early strike.
Pescara was full of resolve at the back, however, and Inter's first chance of the game came on the counterattack. Rodrigo Palacio did wonderfully to reach Fredy Guarin's lobbed pass, and flashed his shot across the face of the goal to fire a warning to the away team.
As the first half developed, Andrea Stramaccioni's men began to control proceedings. Pescara was left to feed off scraps during a spell of Inter domination, and only a persistent show of committed defending at the back prevented it from falling behind in the opening half hour.
Antonio Cassano forced a save from Mattia Perin after latching on to Esteban Cambiasso's header, before Alvaro Pereira burst through on the left flank and rattled the side netting with a powerful effort of his own.
A goal appeared inevitable, and it came after 31 minutes courtesy of a fluid team move from the hosts. Christian Chivu's pass was left intelligently by Cassano and found the feet of Palacio. The Argentine still had a lot of work to do on the edge of the area, but a quick turn left Christian Terluzzi flailing before the striker hit his shot powerfully beyond the grasp of Perin, for his sixth Serie A goal of the season.
Although it had chances to further extend its advantage, the San Siro club looked comfortable and in complete control, with the midfield pairing of Javier Zanetti and Marco Benassi - separated in age by an incredible 21 years - assuring that the home team went into halftime with a firm hold on the game.
Palacio needed barely 30 seconds after the restart to slide the ball into the Pescara net, but the ex-Boca Juniors star was called back for a marginal offside decision and earned a yellow card for his vigorous protest. Jonathan also raised the pulses of the home support, letting loose with a wicked shot from deep that flew just wide of the right-hand post.
Delfini were committing men forward, but that intent made for an increasingly shambolic display at the back. With just eight minutes played of the second half, a slick move from the hosts left the visiting defence in disarray, and Guarin was left with the simplest of finishes to make it 2-0.
The away side were left with a mountain to climb, and although they were enjoying more possession in the Inter half, there was no way through a defense led by stand-in center back Cambiasso.
A Mervan Celik header that went comfortably over the crossbar was about as good as it got for the visitors, as they succumbed to their 12th defeat of the season to move perilously close to the relegation zone.
Inter, meanwhile, leaps temporarily back into third place in Serie A, although it will have to see how the dust settles on Sunday's league encounters before knowing its final position at the end of round 20.
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