Palacio at the double as Inter down Sampdoria
Rodrigo Palacio scored a brace as Inter Milan inched closer to Serie A's Champions League qualification places Wednesday with a precious 2-0 win away to Sampdoria.
Four days after a 2-1 defeat at home to leaders Juventus left them in seventh place, Inter were desperate to make amends in a fixture that was originally postponed on March 17 due to adverse weather in Genoa.
However, Andrea Stramaccioni's side were bossed for long periods in the first half before taking the lead through Palacio's 43rd minute header.
Palacio then brightened up an insipid performance from both sides in the second half with a fine individual effort three minutes into injury time to help push Inter up to fifth on 50 points - seven short of third-placed Milan in the final Champions League qualifying spot.
Despite welcoming Juan Jesus back from suspension the Nerazzurri were without Argentine midfielder Esteban Cambiasso after he received a one-game ban following the match at Juve last Saturday.
Sampdoria had the lion's share of goalscoring chances in the first half.
A Gianluca Sansone header in the opening minute went straight to Inter keeper Samir Handanovic while at the other end Sergio Romero did well to fingertip the ball round the post with Palacio threatening.
Handanovic then had to be at full stretch to palm away a header from Inter transfer target Mauro Icardi after the 20-year-old Argentine met Sansone's corner kick.
Sansone's tame shot went straight to Handanovic but the 'keeper had to look livelier to keep Nenad Krsticic's strike from landing in the top corner just after the half hour.
Inter defender Jonathan came close to gifting Sampdoria a goal when he slipped twice inside the penalty area, but despite Icardi's best efforts he failed to capitalise.
Although Sampdoria were dominating, the hosts' defence was found wanting two minutes before the break when Palacio ghosted between both centre-backs to meet Alvaro Pereira's cross and beat Romero with a glancing header.
Sampdoria created chances before the half-time interval through Poli and Marcelo Estigarribia, while a Palacio shot from a tight angle flashed across the face of goal on the stroke of half time.
Sampdoria picked up where they had left off, Sansone's angled drive forcing Handanovic into action minutes after the restart.
However the momentum the hosts had created was in far less abundance and there were few real chances for either side after the break.
Stramaccioni replaced striker Antonio Cassano, a former Sampdoria player, with Serbian midfielder Zdravko Kuzmanovic on 67 minutes.
Whether that was designed to stem Samp's offensives or not, it coincided with a total lack of creativity from the hosts who were confined to testing Handanovic with a couple of long-range efforts late in the game.
Sampdoria looked fatigued and in the dying minutes were put to the sword when Palacio produced some fine individual skill to hold off two defenders on his way towards goal before coolly slotting the ball under Romero for his 12th goal of the campaign.
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