Claudio Ranieri’s job was hanging in the balance on Friday after a disastrous defensive performance saw his Inter Milan side lose 3-0 at home to struggling Bologna in Serie A.
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Marco Di Vaio struck twice in less than a minute in the first half following two shocking Inter mistakes. Robert Acquafresca sealed the result in the 86th after another Nerazzurri lapse.
Question marks now hang over Ranieri after two defeats in a row at home to Serie A minnows. And just as they had done during last week’s loss to Novara, the home fans voiced their displeasure.
Inter was on a streak of eight successive victories which had started talk of resurrecting its title chances but has now gone six games in all competitions without a win – a run which includes five defeats.
It is also Inter’s 10th defeat this season in Serie A. It has only lost as many games in the top flight once before – in the 1946/47 campaign.
Napoli leapfrogged Inter into fifth after two Edinson Cavani goals helped it win 3-0 at Fiorentina. Bologna extended the gap on the relegation zone to seven points.
Inter had Giampaolo Pazzini and Diego Forlan back in the starting lineup, while key playmaker Wesley Sneijder – who has had lengthy spells out with injury this season – also started.
And it was Sneijder who almost gave Inter the lead in the 11th minute as he turned his marker well but his curling shot was too central and easily caught by Bologna goalkeeper Jean-Francois Gillet.
The Belgian shotstopper did brilliantly shortly afterwards to somehow keep out Maicon’s powerful header from point-blank range.
Another Maicon header flashed past the right post on the half-hour mark as things looked promising for Inter.
However, the defense left Di Vaio completely unmarked on the right of goal in the 37th minute and he had plenty of time, as the Inter defenders rushed over to him, to control the ball and fire it home with his left foot.
Seconds later it was even worse for Inter as Andrea Ranocchia tried to control a long Bologna pass but chested it into Di Vaio’s path and the Bologna striker raced forward before lofting the ball over Inter goalkeeper Julio Cesar.
Both goals were roundly booed by the home support, who also jeered Inter off the pitch at halftime.
Inter tried to get back into the game in the second half and Forlan had a good opportunity on the hour mark when he was picked out alone in the middle of the area by Yuto Nagatomo, but his shot was too weak.
The Uruguayan was substituted moments later to more whistles from the crowd.
Ranocchia came close to atoning for his error when a header from Sneijder’s free kick but Gillet pulled off a great save to tip it around his left post.
However, Inter had no real attacking conviction and Acquafresca put the final nail in the coffin four minutes from time. Four Inter defenders seemed scared to tackle him as he as muscled his way through with ease before curling a shot into the bottom left corner from the edge of the area.
The ball had barely hit the back of the net before the fans started streaming for the exits.
Inter will have to do much better before the Champions League resumes next week. It travels to Marseille for the first leg of its last-16 tie.
Napoli heads into its tie with Chelsea in a different mood.
Cavani got Napoli off to the perfect start when he beat the offside trap and lashed home Marek Hamsik’s pass with less than three minutes on the clock.
The Uruguay striker doubled his tally 10 minutes after the break with his 15 league goal of the season before Ezequiel Lavezzi topped off a great night with a brilliant solo goal in stoppage time.