Serie A - Inter lose again at home to Bologna
Internazionale's disastrous run of results continued after they were beaten 3-0 by Bologna at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.
Two goals in as many minutes from veteran striker Marco Di Vaio had the Rossoblu ahead at half-time, and another with five minutes remaining from substitute Robert Acquafresca consigned the Nerazzurri to a fourth Serie A defeat in five games and heaped the pressure on manager Claudio Ranieri.
Inter's woeful form does not bode well for their chances for next week, when they travel to Marseille for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie before visiting Napoli next weekend.
This latest loss sees Inter drop to sixth in the table, leapfrogged by Napoli who won 2-0 at Fiorentina. Should Rome win their home game against Parma on Sunday then the 2010 champions will drop down a further place in the standings.
Bologna's reward for extending their unbeaten run to six league matches is to open up a seven-point gap between them and the relegation zone ahead of the rest of the weekend's fixtures.
Inter went into this match having taken just one point from their last four games, their worst run in Serie A for eight years.
They were missing midfielder Dejan Stankovic and striker Diego Milito, but a 13-match unbeaten run against Bologna should have filled them with confidence that they could still prevail and bounce back from their 1-0 defeat to bottom side Novara last time out.
Inter created 30 chances in that match without converting, and Jean-Francois Gillet played a big part in making sure they drew a blank for the third game running.
The Belgian goalkeeper made a fine save from a Maicon header with his left foot before the Brazilian right-back sent another wide. Diego Forlan then pounced on a loose ball and surged into the area, only for Gillet to rush off his line and spread himself well to deny the Uruguayan.
Then, with seven minutes to go until half-time and against the run of play, Bologna broke the deadlock. Gaston Ramirez met Archimede Morleo's throw-in with a slick turn that left Maicon for dead. His cross was only cleared to the edge of the box, where it was fed back in to the unmarked Di Vaio. The 35-year-old beat a defender with the drop of a shoulder before finishing past Julio Cesar.
A minute later, Di Vaio scored again thanks to an awful mistake by Andrea Ranocchia. The Inter defender managed to chest a long ball forward right to the feet of the striker, who surged forward to clinically convert for his eighth Serie A goal of the season and the 140th of his career in the competition.
After the break Inter again created chances to at least reduce the deficit but were unable to take them.
A great run from Yuto Nagatomo saw the ball squared to Forlan, whose weak effort almost trickled past Gillet but the keeper managed to grab hold of it.
One of several decent deliveries from Wesley Sneijder, who was often struggled to get involved in his role wide on the left, was met by a Ranocchia header seemingly bound for the far bottom corner, only for Gillet to produce his best save of the match to deny him.
Ranieri made a change, bringing on Andrea Poli for Forlan, but Bologna put the game beyond doubt thanks to two substitutes of their own.
Ranocchia was again at fault as he was shrugged off the ball too easily by Saphir Taider, allowing fellow second-half replacement Acquafresca to surge forward from the right, past two defenders and sidefoot a cool finish home for his fourth league goal of the season.
Ranieri earned plaudits for the job he did in dragging Inter up the table after the shambolic five-match tenure of Gian Piero Gasperini at the start of the season, but he now finds himself firmly in the firing line as he team continually fluff their lines at such a crucial stage of the season.