Second-half goals from Milan Skriniar and Andrea Ranocchia secured Inter a much-needed 2-0 triumph over basement boys Benevento on Saturday.
The Nerazzurri's stuttering season appeared set to plumb new depths against travel-sick opponents until they scored twice in the space of three minutes.
Skriniar lifted the mood inside a toxic San Siro when he caught Benevento sleeping at a corner, the defender running on to a bouncing ball to nod home.
Ranocchia followed his fellow centre-back's lead soon after, meeting Joao Cancelo's inviting free-kick with a firm header that flashed into the bottom right corner of goalkeeper Christian Puggioni's net.
Serie A's bottom club had proved a major stumbling block until the quickfire double, and even had a stong shout for a penalty at 0-0, Danilo Cataldi denied when appearing to tumble over Ranocchia's outstretched leg.
However, the visitors finished the game with 10 men, Nicolas Viola sent off after receiving two late bookings, as Inter picked up a win that lifts them up to third in the table.
4 - No defender has scored more goals than Milan Skriniar in Serie A this season (four goals). Guarantee. #InterBenevento— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) February 24, 2018
For Inter, it's all about points, not performances. When they won the reverse fixture last October thanks to a brace from Marcelo Brozovic, they were unbeaten in seven games and appeared set to challenge for the Scudetto.
Instead, a run of just one win in their last 10 league outings either side of the winter break has abruptly ended any title talk and instead left them in a fight to finish in the top four.
Having seen his side struggle in a 2-0 loss at Genoa, Spalletti recalled Ivan Perisic and handed Rafinha his first start since joining from Barcelona, though the returning Mauro Icardi was only deemed fit enough for a place on the bench.
The changes failed to inspire the hosts in the first half, though, and it was Benevento who had the best opportunity to score before the break.
Massimo Coda's fierce drive on the counter forced Samir Handanovic into a smart save and immediately triggered a chorus of jeers from a far-from-happy Inter faithful.
At the other end, Gaetano Letizia's well-timed tackle stopped Antonio Candreva from calling Puggioni into action, the forward seeing the ball taken off his left foot just as he was set to pull the trigger.
Matias Vecino finally managed Inter's first on-target attempt in the 54th minute, unleashing a 25-yard shot that Puggioni punched over for a corner in rather unorthodox fashion.
Cataldi was outraged when the officials failed to point to the spot after his clash with the clumsy Ranocchia, who quickly made an impact in the opposite box to put the game beyond Benevento.
By that stage Skriniar had finally broken the deadlock, heading home his fourth goal of the season via a deflection off the underside of the crossbar.
Benevento's misery was complete with the dismissal of Viola, leaving them still without an away point in Serie A. While they're stuck at the bottom, things might finally be looking up for Inter.
Key Opta stats:
- Prior to today, the last Inter home Serie A game without shots on target in the first half was back in September 2016 (v Juventus).
- The first shot on target for Inter came in the 54th minute.
- Inter have won their last two home league games after three draws and a defeat.
- Inter have scored the most headed goals in Serie A this season (11) – Benevento have conceded the most (12).
|Coutinho expects more Neymar punishment at World Cup|
|Cisse hails Mane as ´one of the best players in the world´|
|Forsberg falls flat as Granqvist proves Sweden´s hero|
|Sweden 1 South Korea 0: Granqvist´s VAR-assisted penalty settles tight game|
|Nishino concerned Japan players affected by Osaka earthquake|
|Isco pleased with Lopetegui´s Real Madrid appointment|
|Hazard hints at Real Madrid interest|
|Wasps disappointed as Wilson joins Scotland backroom staff|
|Hierro has full confidence in De Gea|
|Russia will stop Salah - Cherchesov|
|Allen signs new four-year Stoke contract|
|England issue update over injured duo Stokes and Woakes|
|Mancini leaves door open for Buffon´s Italy return|
|Alli calls for England to be ruthless in World Cup opener|
|Tahir rested as Proteas call up uncapped duo|
|Uruguay v Saudi Arabia: Centurion Suarez seeks World Cup redemption|
|Portugal v Morocco: Hat-trick hero Ronaldo hunts stricken Atlas Lions|
|Argentina didn´t draw because of Messi´s missed penalty - Maradona|
|Wenger heaps praise on France star Kante|
|If VAR helps referees, I´m not against that – Australia´s Sainsbury|
|Kimmich questions Germany mentality after shock defeat|
|Roberts to leave Warrington Wolves|
|Australia talent Arzani ready to make the jump from A-League|
|Lewandowski: I can be at the top until I´m 35|
|All Blacks winger Savea confirms Toulon switch|
|Free Fall available for France after red card rescinded|
|South Korea can progress from wide-open group, says Park Ji-sung|
|Gordon called up by Wallabies to replace injured Genia|
|Germany can still win World Cup, insists Werner|
|Man United & Real Madrid talk not affecting Milinkovic-Savic|
|Out-of-contract Ruiz focused on Costa Rica|
|Southgate will not bombard England with last-minute instructions|
|Muller: Germany under extreme pressure|
|Rangers score four runs in ninth to pick up walk-off win over Rockies|
|U.S. Open champion Koepka happy to continue being ´overlooked´|
|Pogba: I´m the most criticised player in the world|
|Maradona: Sampaoli´s game plan against Iceland was a disgrace|
|De Gea will bounce back from error – Marchena|
|Slater named for Maroons return|
|Woods, Faldo, Harrington and Koepka – U.S. Open champion joins fine club after successful defence|
|Fleetwood positive despite falling short at U.S. Open|
|Jesus: I had no reason to play for a penalty|
|Hernandez admits to exaggerating fouls against Australia|
|Koepka says winning two U.S. Opens not even in his ´wildest dreams´|
|Hernandez: Griezmann an idol at Atletico|
|Sri Lanka take charge despite Gabriel exploits|
|U.S. Open final-round timeline: How clinical Koepka kept his crown|
|Koepka fights off challengers to successfully defend U.S. Open title|
|´Aching´ Neymar urges referees to intervene|
|BREAKING NEWS: Koepka holds on to defend U.S. Open title|
|Lozano goal causes artificial earthquake in Mexico|
|Djokovic: Mental battle will be Murray´s biggest|
|Hummels criticises Germany tactics in Mexico loss|
|Brazil the latest favourites to stumble, but Tite and Neymar won´t panic|
|Magnificent Fleetwood matches U.S. Open record with closing 63|
|Brazil 1 Switzerland 1: Zuber pegs back below-par Selecao|
|Warrington hold off Wakefield fightback, Tigers held despite Hitchcox heroics|
|Germany follow trend of poor starts for World Cup champions|
|Reed on the charge as U.S. Open race hots up|
|Milinkovic-Savic can play for any team in Europe, says Crespo|
|Southgate keen to unleash his bold new England|
|Konta fumes as Barty takes Nottingham title|
|Kante hails Pogba´s match-winning contribution|
|Germany struggle with generation gap|
|Neymar to make first competitive start since February in Brazil´s World Cup opener|
|Kane gunning for Ronaldo hat-trick heroics in England opener|
|Balotelli would fit in at Marseille - Raiola|
|Captain Ki happy to get tough on South Korea|
|Senegal call up Mbengue with Ciss ruled out|
|Mickelson celebrates at scene of Saturday meltdown|