A late Luc Castaignos goal earned Inter Milan a vital three points from a 1-0 victory at Siena as they look to finally kickstart their Serie A campaign.
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Claudio Ranieri’s men confirmed their place in the Champions League last 16 in midweek as winners of their group but their domestic form has been woeful by contrast, and they arrived in Tuscany three points behind their opponents and just one point above the bottom three.
However, they managed to claim three points from another unconvincing performance as Siena finished with 10 men following the dismissal of Franco Brienza.
Inter threatened in the 10th minute when Dejan Stankovic found space for a long-range shot, and his low effort was well held by fellow Serb Zeljko Brkic in the Siena goal.
Brkic held on to a Mauro Zarate cross from close range, but his handling was less secure on the half-hour mark when he dropped a corner, with neither Esteban Cambiasso or Walter Samuel able to capitalise. Siena broke quickly and Brienza drilled an angled shot over the top of Julio Cesar’s goal.
The home side began to take the upper hand and Emanuele Calaio managed to get goalside of a hesitant Inter defence on the stroke of half-time before screwing his shot wide.
Calaio went close three minutes into the second period for the Bianconeri with a shot which drifted just wide of the post from Daniele Mannini’s set-up, and Marcelo Larrondo’s long-range effort also failed to trouble Julio Cesar.
Calaio’s close-range header from Gaetano D’Agostino’s cross went over the top and within seconds Inter threatened as Stankovic again took aim, this time drilling wide from Thiago Motta’s pass.
Brienza’s wild effort flew wide in the 64th minute before Motta’s long-range effort at the other end failed to find its mark 15 minutes later.
Motta was more accurate with five minutes to go, but this time Brkic produced a stunning save, diving to his right to claw the ball away from the top corner.
However, Inter were not to be denied and in the final minute Castaignos’ right-foot finish from Motta’s assist earned them all three points, with Brienza getting himself sent off after receiving a second yellow card for his petulant reaction to Inter’s winner.