Serie A - Inter win in thriller against Roma
Internazionale continue to close the gap on neighbours AC at the top of the Serie A table after a breathtaking 5-3 defeat of AS Roma at the San Siro.
Wesley Sneijder's third minute goal set the tone for a pulsating game with Samuel Eto'o and Fabio Simplicio also on the first half scoresheet with Inter enjoying a 2-1 advantage.
Leonardo's men secured their rise to third in the table after capitalising on the dismissal of Nicolas Burdisso shortly after the break with three second half goals from Samuel Eto'o, Thiago Motta and Esteban Cambiasso that put the game beyond Roma.
The visitors threatened to stage a brave fightback when Mirko Vucinic and substitute Simone Loria brought them to within one goal of an unlikely point at 4-3 but Cambiasso crushed the resistance in the dying seconds.
Defending champions Inter can now boast a six-game perfect record at home in the league dating back to November, while Roma tasted defeat for the first time since going down 2-1 to Sampdoria on January 9.
With the referee's first whistle still ringing in the ears, Inter struck a vicious blow straight into the heart of their dumbstruck opponents to establish an early lead.
Sneijder, making his first start since December, giving his side the perfect possible start with a stunning left foot strike from just outside of the penalty area that arrowed into the top corner.
After such an emphatic opening to the game, both sides responded by refusing to take their feet of their respective accelerator pedals and it was Roma who soon had reason to cheer with a well worked equaliser.
Mirko Vucinic set Marco Borriello on his way down the right with a perfectly weighted through ball and his first time cross was equally impressive to present Simplicio with the simplest of chances at the far post which he gratefully converted.
The restoration of parity only served to spark further life into two already vibrant teams as they went in search of further goals.
And Roma would have completed the swiftest of turnarounds had it not been for a fantastic double save from Julio Cesar to first deny Jeremy Menez from distance and then Borriello on the headed rebound.
As the half wore on, Inter stumbled across a weak link in their opponent's line up and proceeded to exploit it at every opportunity.
The rampaging Maicon proved to be too fast, too strong and generally too good for the haplessly exposed John Arne Riise down the right flank and it came as no surprise when the home side profited via that route.
Some heroic last ditch defending presented Inter with the opportunity to launch a swashbuckling counter attack, spearheaded by Eto'o who cut inside from the right and blasted the ball through the feeble defences of Roma goalkeeper Julio Sergio who will be disappointed with his efforts.
Eto'o very nearly bagged his second of the game just moments later but could only watch on as Daniele De Rossi got a vital touch to send his goal bound effort whistling over the crossbar before the referee brought a relentlessly entertaining half to a close.
At 2-1, the game remained delicately poised for just 15 second half minutes when the scales were tipped in Inter's favour thanks to a double blow.
When Nicolas Burdisso pulled down Giampaolo Pazzini in the penalty area there were no complaints about the resulting red card and award of a penalty kick that Eto'o converted with aplomb into the sidenetting for his second of the game.
Inter threatened to turn the game into a rout when an unmarked Motta nodded in from close range after Eto'o's headed cutback for the fourth goal but they were made to sweat due to an unlikely display of stubborn resistance from Roma.
It appeared to be nothing but a consolation when Vucinic showed terrific predatory instincts to divert De Rossi's free kick past a stranded Cesar to make it 4-2.
But substitute Simone Loria reminded Inter that the game was still well and truely on when he smashed in from six yards after the ball had cannoned off the post and into his path from Juan's towering header.
With time on Inter's side, up popped Cambiasso to ensure that there would be no dramatic conclusion to the game when he tapped in after good work from Eto'o.