Brazilian striker Gabriel ‘Gabigol’ Barbosa handed Inter Milan all three points and kept his side within reach of the European places with his maiden Serie A strike in a 1-0 win at Bologna on Sunday.
The 20-year-old Brazil international joined Inter from Santos in August for just under 30 million euros ($32M) and the two extra points on Sunday were his first pay back instalments.
Inter are now level fourth with Atalanta on 48 and fifth placed Lazio on 47 after both of these rivals for Europa League qualification, won their respective matches on Saturday.
But in what was Bologna’s first home game since a 7-1 battering by Napoli two weeks ago, Roberto Donadoni’s men had no intention of suffering another rout.
Inter welcomed Ivan Perisic back from suspension but were still missing captain and striker Mauro Icardi, who was handed a two-game ban following a controversial defeat at Juventus a fortnight ago.
Coach Stefano Pioli gave Rodrigo Palacio a rare start up front, with Eder, Antonio Candreva and Perisic giving the Argentine striker plenty of support.
But Bologna were a tough nut to crack, and Inter were wasteful throughout until Barbosa fired an easy tap-in past Angelo Da Costa with nine minutes to play.
When Perisic burst down the left to pull back for Palacio, he ballooned over from yards out.
Inter ‘keeper Samir Handanovic smothered at Blerim Dzemaili’s feet when the Swiss was sent clear by Bruno Petkovic while at the other end Ibrahima MBaye blocked a Jeison Murillo strike.
Crosses were coming thick and fast into the Bologna area from both flanks but Inter were making little headway.
After the restart Eder blasted a free kick wide and wasted another chance when he scuffed an effort straight at Da Costa.
Perisic had already sent a volley with the outside of his boot straight at the ‘keeper and soon after blasted just over the bar.
Joao Miranda was booked on 67 minutes, meaning he will miss next week’s clash with Roma.
Bologna had penalty appeals waved away after Eder kicked Dzemaili on the shin just inside the penalty area, and soon after Pioli decided to shake things up.
Barbosa came on for Candreva and Ever Banega replaced the ineffective Palacio.
Seven minutes later Danilo D”Ambrosio was allowed to get deep on the rigth side of the area to roll across for Barbosa, who ran in unhindered at the back post for the easiest of tap-ins.
Barbosa almost had his second but Adam Masina cleared his volley. Inter then had Handanovic to thank for saving the points at the death by rushing off his line to deny Vasilis Torosidis.