ROME - Inter Milan reignited their Serie A
title charge thanks to Morocco midfielder Houssine Kharja
setting up a 3-0 win at bottom side Bari on Thursday.
The victory lifts the defending champions to seven points
behind leaders AC Milan, who drew 0-0 with Lazio on Tuesday,
while a game in hand for Leonardo's third-placed side makes the
scudetto run-in even more interesting.
Inter's bid for a sixth straight title was floundering under
Rafael Benitez, who left in December after six months in charge,
but ex-Milan boss Leonardo has quickly rediscovered the spark
which took them to a Jose Mourinho-inspired treble last term.
Kharja, signed on loan from Genoa last week to boost Inter's
injured ranks, broke the deadlock on 70 minutes when he finished
off some good interplay with Samuel Eto'o.
Giampaolo Pazzini then netted his third goal in two games
for his new club on the counter-attack deep into stoppage time
before substitute Wesley Sneijder marked his return from over a
month out injured with the final goal.
"Tonight it was difficult to find space. We faced a Bari
side who are bottom in name only," Leonardo told Sky TV.
"There are still lots of games left and even if we don't
forget we have won six of the last seven in the league, it
doesn't count for anything now, only at the end."
The score slightly flattered Inter, whose three-pronged
attack with goalpoacher Pazzini out wide looked disjointed
before Dutch playmaker Sneijder's introduction.
They were also fortunate not to concede in the first half
and they could have be down to 10 men before Kharja's opener
after the officials missed left-back Cristian Chivu lashing out
at defender Marco Rossi.
"We have talked about it. A wrong thing is a wrong thing.
It's an internal issue and we'll deal with it," Leonardo added.
Post-match television evidence will probably lead to a ban
for Chivu and could give Inter's new Japan left-back Yuto
Nagatomo the chance to make his debut in Sunday's big league
clash at home to last season's runners-up AS Roma.
Bari, who stayed up easily last term in their first season
back thanks to some delightful football, look doomed this time
after falling nine points adrift of safety with 15 games left.
England striker puts pen to paper on permanent deal
The new season is but six weeks away (in the Football League)
It's all about the legacy, says Sepp
Toon upheaval continues in style
Who would you rather have playing for your club?
12 months out, the stars look to the World Cup
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
75% of all TV is Bale
On the road to ruin
Adidas Nitrocharge for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010