Inter beat Siena 2-1 and climbed to the 7th place, only six points behind third placed Lazio.
With six games still to play, Nerazzurri have a very slim chance to clinch the third Champions League spot but, at least, they are back in contention to be in Europe even next season. Europa League 2012-13 is a more viable target. While that could be a distraction for a club of Inter's status, to miss out European football would be a huge stain.
An early mistake from Samuel, after six minutes, allowed Siena to find the net with D'Agostino at the third attempt after Julio Cesar's two consecutive saves.
Stramaccioni started the game with an all Argentinian trident upfront: Alvarez on the right, Milito in the middle, Zarate on the left. A brace from Milito confirmed el Principe's restored scoring vein: 20 goals in the league for Inter's striker. Zarate alternated good things with bad choices (he missed the opportunity to pass the ball to the overlapping fullback several times) but he was one of the most lively players for the home side.
Alvarez looked rusty and by far the least comfortable of the three, as he did the best things when he moved from the flank to find room in the trequartista position. But the 4-3-3 formation doesn't include this role so they were occasional breaks, just like it happened within Ranieri's 4-4-2. But it was just in that spot behind the striker that Alvarez could create clever passes and beat opponents with exquisite one-twos, as he did once with Stankovic in the first half.
That move was a serious contender for the best action of the game alongside:
1. Walter Samuel's beautifully timed sliding tackle in the first half.
2. Mauro Zarate's perfect control on the by-line in the second half
3. Javier Zanetti's slalom on 85 minutes, beating three opponents before being fouled by someone nearly half his age.
Saviero could hardly find a better way to celebrate his 570th game in Serie A, equalling Dino Zoff. After nearly two months off, Inter look less tired than most of their rivals which could be a key factor in these last six games.
Serie A 2011-12 / Day 32
Inter: Julio Cesar; Zanetti, Lucio, Samuel (38' Nagatomo), Chivu; Cambiasso, Stankovic, Obi (68' Poli); Alvarez (77' Pazzini), Milito, Zarate. Coach: Stramaccioni
Siena: Pegolo; Vitiello (74' Contini), Terzi, Pesoli, Del Grosso; Mannini, Vergassola, Bolzoni (62' Gazzi), Brienza; D'Agostino (62' Gonzalez); Destro. Coach: Sannino
Goals: D'Agostino 6'; Milito 42', 81' pen
Yellow cards: Samuel; Pesoli, Vitiello, Mannini, Contini
Red card: Pegolo (94')