Milan (AFP) – A second-half winner by Ivan Perisic boosted Frank De Boer’s survival prospects as Inter Milan fought to a deserved 2-1 ‘Derby d’Italia’ win over Juventus in Serie A on Sunday.
De Boer, who succeeded Roberto Mancini at Inter two weeks before the start of the season, was rumoured to be facing the sack after a midweek defeat to Hapoel Beer Sheva followed a run of poor results in the league.
But the former Ajax handler’s job looks safe, for the meantime, after Inter put their Europa League shocker behind them with a battling performance at a packed San Siro to hand the champions their first defeat of the season.
Stephan Lichesteiner opened the scoring for Massimiliano Allegri’s visitors against the run of play on 66 minutes, but Mauro Icardi continued his impressive form against Gianluigi Buffon by hitting the leveller just two minutes later.
Perisic then came off the bench to nod the winner from Icardi’s deft cross 12 minutes from time to send Inter up to seventh place in the table.
Inter are now three points behind Napoli, who, on 10 points, hold a one-point lead on Juventus.
Roma, who face Fiorentina away, can also climb to 10 points with a win in Florence later Sunday.
De Boer told Sky Sport: “I’m very happy with the team’s performance, and the result but we have to try to play like this every week.”
The goal-scoring prospects for either side looked bleak after goalless outings against European opposition this week.
Juve were held to a scoreless draw by Europa League winners Sevilla in their Champions League opener while Inter looked completely hapless on their way to a 2-0 reverse against their Israeli visitors at the San Siro.
But the Derby d’Italia gave De Boer the chance to convince his employers, and the Dutchman didn’t disappoint.
He dropped Marcelo Brozovic for disciplinary reasons and Perisic was initially only fit enough to start on the bench.
Allegri, meanwhile, kept star striker Gonzalo Higuain on the bench, with Mario Mandzukic partnering Paulo Dybala, although the Argentine striker was visibly frustrated as he sat on the touchlines.
Allegri later deflected questions about Higuain, saying: “He did well. He fought hard, but it’s not easy for strikers whether you’re winning or losing.”
But he admitted: “We were in difficulty because Inter played a great game. We took the lead against the run of play but we barely held it for two minutes.
“You have to fight for victory if you want it. This defeat should remind us we have to keep our feet on the ground.”
Amid a nervous opening half Sami Khedira sent a free header from Alex Sandro’s cross straight at Samir Handanovic.
Inter went on the counter after Icardi robbed Giorgio Chiellini, and the Argentine’s curling drive came off the far post.
Juve threatened only three minutes after the restart, Dybala firing a deflected shot over.
But it served only to spark Inter.
Eder’s deflected shot from 25 metres almost caught Buffon off guard and Juve breathed a huge sigh of relief after another counter saw Buffon at full stretch as Antonio Candreva’s crisp volley from Icardi’s delivery inched past the far post.
Inter had the momentum but when Kwadwo Asamoah muscled past his marker to set up Sandro on the left, the Brazlian’s delivery gave Lichsteiner a simple tap-in.
Juve’s joy lasted barely two minutes, Icardi sending the San Siro into raptures after he rose above Mandzukic at a corner to send a looping header over Buffon.
De Boer immediately replaced Eder with Perisic and after Icardi saw claims for a penalty waved away following a clash with Giorgio Chiellini, Allegri finally gave Higuain the nod.
The Argentine replaced Mandzukic for the final quarter hour, but Persic’s influence was quickly felt.
When Ever Banega stole possession from Sandro he found Icardi in space at the far post. The Argentine then delivered a deft cross with the outside of his boot for Perisic to loop over Buffon after rising above Andrea Barzagli.