Ivan Perisic’s maiden goal for Inter Milan in a 1-1 draw at Sampdoria sent the Nerazzurri back on top of Serie A on Sunday, as Roma continued their early season push with a convincing 4-2 win away to Palermo.
With five opening wins, Roberto Mancini’s Inter side had been the early season pacesetters — until a 4-1 humbling by Fiorentina last week sent La Viola on top thanks to superior goal difference.
The Nerazzzurri’s title ambitions were kept in check for the second successive week and Sampdoria were unlucky not to take all three points after missing a host of chances in a dominant first half.
But Mancini claimed a draw was the fair result.
“Sampdoria are a quality side, especially if you give them space, and they put us in trouble especially with their counter-attacks in the opening half,” he said.
“But we came back into it in the second half and, on the whole, a draw was the fair result.”
In a hotly-contested encounter at the Luigi Ferraris stadium, Inter were heading for their second successive defeat after Luis Muriel slid in at the back post to meet Pedro Pereira’s inswinging cross and beat goalkeeper Samir Handanovic in the 51t minute.
It ended the hosts’ long wait for a goal after a succession of earlier misses by Eder, Muriel and Joaquin Correa, who produced an absolute howler when he somehow skewed the ball wide of an empty net only a yard from the goal-line.
Those misses proved costly when Sampdoria’s defence went walkabout in the 75th minute and Perisic stuck out his right leg at the back post to beat Emiliano Viviano.
Inter’s first draw of the season saw them go top of the pile with a one-point lead on Fiorentina, although Paulo Sousa’s men will go two points clear if they beat Atalanta later Sunday.
Samp coach Walter Zenga applauded his side’s display but lamented the misses that could have settled the game earlier.
“We played a great game and created a lot of chances, but we conceded a crazy goal that took two points off us,” said the former Italy goalkeeper.
“We should have doubled our lead after Muriel’s opener and that would have settled it.”
Gervinho double helps Roma overcome Palermo
Fellow scudetto hopefuls Roma moved up to provisional third place, two points behind Inter, with a comprehensive 4-2 win away to Palermo.
Days after a humbling 3-2 defeat to Champions League group opponents BATE Borisov, Roma travelled to Sicily hoping to make amends albeit without Edin Dzeko and Francesco Totti, who are both sidelined with injury for the next three weeks.
However any fears the Giallorossi would suffer another slip-up on their travels were dispelled after just two minutes when Miralem Pjanic put Roma ahead after latching on to Alessandro Florenzi’s through ball to beat Stefano Sorrentino from close range.
Florenzi doubled Roma’s lead 12 minutes later with a clinical strike after the ball fell kindly inside the area, and Gervinho confirmed his recent return to form with a superb strike on 28 minutes to put the match beyond reach.
The Ivory Coast striker, who scored his first league goal since November 2014 two weeks ago, cut in from the left side of the area, holding off defender Giancarlo Gonzalez all the way before beating Sorrentino with a superb curling effort from just inside the area.
Palermo reduced arrears twice, through Alberto Gilardino on the hour and Gonzalez on the stroke of full time.
But Gervinho put the result beyond all doubt with his second of the game barely a minute later to hand Roma their fourth win in seven games.
Garcia hailed his side’s efforts.
“Hats off to the lads because it’s never easy winning away from home. I just hope we don’t have to score four goals every time we want to win,” said the Frenchman.
Later Sunday, struggling champions Juventus host Bologna looking for just their second win of the campaign while AC Milan host Napoli in Sunday’s late game.