Ivan Perisic and Eder hit late goals as Inter Milan stuttered to a precious 3-1 comeback win at home to Chievo on Saturday.
Chievo travelled to the San Siro hoping for a second consecutive upset over the Nerazzurri after a shock 2-0 home win at the start of the campaign when former coach Frank De Boer was at the helm.
But despite Sergio Pellissier beating Samir Handanovic in the Inter goal with a 34th minute opener, Inter eventually hauled themselves back into the match when Mauro Icardi got on the end of Antonio Candreva’s curling cross to chip a volley past the outstretched hand of Stefano Sorrentino on 69 minutes.
Perisic virtually handed the hosts the points four minutes from time and late substitute Eder added a third in the third minute of added-on time.
Inter’s fifth consecutive win moved them up one place to fifth, nine points behind Juventus before the leaders and champions travel to Fiorentina on Sunday with a four-point lead on Roma and a seven-point cushion on Napoli, in third.
Inter have changed significantly since Stefano Pioli took the helm from sacked De Boer nearly two months ago but the Serie A giants are still struggling to find the net.
Although satisfied with his players’ “determination and quality”, Pioli told Premium Sport: “Today perhaps we should have had a few more midfielders in the area, but if you ask me we have to improve in front of goal.”
He added: “I’m happy for the players, for the determination and quality they showed out on the pitch. Plus, we didn’t give much away.
“We have to keep on like this, although we’re not looking at the table. We’re very happy but this is only the beginning of our journey and we’ve a long way to go.”
Icardi nodded Cristian Ansaldi’s cross wide in the opening minutes and Roberto Gagliardini, signed from Atalanta in midweek, was denied a goal on his debut when Sorrentino got down low to save at his near post.
A Danilo D’Ambrosio drive then flashed just wide and after Icardi hit the side-netting, Candreva saw one of several long-distance attempts tipped out from under the crossbar.
Inter were undone at a corner, D’Ambrosio giving Pellissier space to fire a volley past Handanovic from eight yards out on 34 minutes.
Sorrentino told Sky Sport: “It’s a pity. We came here looking for a result and even managed to take the lead.
“But we knew it would be difficult. We tried but for most of the second period Inter had us in our own half of the pitch.”
Sorrentino tipped a diving header from Gagliardini off the line and after another enticing cross from Perisic went begging the Croatian shaved the outside of the post.
Sorrentino also palmed a powerful Icardi header off the line from a corner.
Chievo started the second half positively, Handanovic was forced to parry a Pellissier drive wide from the edge of the area.
But any hopes the visitors had of holding on to their advantage soon faded.
Sorrentino did well to palm a Perisic header away from point blank range and stopped Eder twice before Icardi finally pulled the hosts level, timing his run well to volley Candreva’s long ball in from 10 yards out.
It was the Argentine’s 15th goal of the season and stretches his lead over Roma’s Edin Dzeko to two goals at the top of the Serie A scoring charts.
Perisic then fired a curling shot wide but his persistence soon paid off, the Croatian dribbling past Nicolas Spolli to fire low under Sorrentino on 86 minutes.
Eder added the third late on after firing Rodrigo Palacio’s cutback into the Brazil-born Italy striker’s path.
Earlier Saturday, Blerim Dzemaili struck in the 51st minute for Bologna in a 1-0 win over Crotone that sent the Serie A strugglers bottom of the pile. – Agence France-Presse