Sassuolo striker Domenico Berardi hit a last-gasp penalty to stun Inter Milan 1-0 and leave the former Serie A leaders in the third spot of the table on Sunday.

Roberto Mancini’s men welcomed Sassuolo looking to build on last week’s 1-0 win at Empoli, which kept the Inter top with a one-point lead over Fiorentina and Napoli.

But Mancini had warned of the danger posed by Eusebio Di Francesco’s visitors, and the Italian who led the Milan outfit to three consecutive league titles in his previous spell in charge was spot on.

Inter failed to build on a solid start when Mauro Icardi and Adem Ljajic missed clear chances inside the opening three minutes.

The hosts were undone at the last-gasp when Brazilian defender Miranda hauled down Berardi in the final minute of added-on time.

Berardi made no mistake from the penalty spot, firing over the body of Slovenian ‘keeper Samir Handanovic to secure a famous win for Sassuolo, who leapfrog AC Milan into sixth place to sit eight points off the pace.

Inter remain top with a one-point lead on Fiorentina, who suffered a shock 3-1 defeat on Saturday to Lazio, although Napoli, in third also a point off the pace, can reclaim top spot with a win away to Frosinone later in the day.

The defeat will also be welcomed by Juventus, although champions — in fourth at three points off the pace — face a tough away trip to Sampdoria in Sunday’s late fixture.

Inter had a lightning start and Gary Medel’s floated cross sent Icardi through between two defenders after just two minutes, but the Argentinian scuffed his shot wide.

Ljajic then spurned a second great chance  when he ran on to Icardi’s dummy across the six-yard box to fire inches wide of the target.

Handanovic first came under threat on the quarter-hour with a fine one-handed save to keep out Nicola Sansone’s free kick.

After Ljajic headed over from Icardi’s delivery from the right, Handanovic came to the rescue again to block Simone Missiroli’s close-range effort with his chest and before the half hour produced a one-handed save to push Berardi’s dipping free kick to safety.

Sassuolo won another free kick when Jeison Murillo clattered into Diego Falcinelli and Berardi’s effort swerved just past Handanovic’s far post with the ‘keeper at full stretch.

Inter were under the cosh but should have taken a 43rd minute lead when an exchange of passes between Icardi and Ljajic saw the latter hit a curling effort that Andrea Consigli finger-tipped out for a corner.

Inter had a quieter start to the second half and it took until after the hour for Ljajic to fashion the hosts’ next chance, but Consigli performed heroics.

Mancini replaced Ivan Perisic with Rodrigo Palacio 20 minutes after the restart and 12 minutes from the finish the Argentine spurned a great chance when he collected Icardi’s cutback on the edge of the six-yard box.

But with an empty net in front of him, Palacio saw his effort blocked by the legs of Federico Peluso.

Di Francesco replaced Sansone with Antonio Floro Flores and moments later the striker’s acrobatic bicycle kick from Berardi’s free-kick was somehow blocked by an alert Handanovic.

Inter’s desperation was growing and when Ljajic collected Geoffrey Kondogbia’s short pass on the left flank the Bosnian hit a spectacular dipping effort that forced Consigli into action.

Mancini went for bust when he replaced French midfielder Kondogbia with Stevan Jovetic and minutes later the striker saw a goalbound effort tipped to safety by Consigli following an exchange with Ljajic.

On a late Sassuolo offensive, Miranda was unlucky to clatter into Berardi in the area but the referee pointed to the spot.

By AFP