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The script may change, but the plot stays the same: Go down a goal, only to come back in the second half and win in dramatic fashion. Yet, the only thing that was similar between last week’s match against Lazio and this past weekend’s away match to Cesena was the 2-1 scoreline in favour of Inter.

While a relatively easy match when looked at on paper, the trip to the Dino Manuzzi was always going to be a tricky tie. In the weekly buildup until kickoff, there were a few subplots regarding the game. The lead story was the return of Yuto Nagatomo to Cesena and Davide Santon facing his parent club and in turn, his fullback counterpart in Nagatomo.

Unfortunately, the two loanees never had a chance to face each other, as Santon suffered a knock to his knee in pre-game warmups and was scratched from the home side’s starting eleven. Also, self proclaimed Interista and Cesena starting striker Emanuele Giaccherini and ex-Inter/current Cesena midfielder Luis Jimenez looked to bring all three points home in their quest to secure top flight status next season for the Romagnoli.

Inter were without the suspended Julio Cesar due to his red card versus Lazio. Also unavailable to Leonardo was Dejan Stankovic, who was injured and subsequently substituted against Lazio, and Wesley Sneijder, who picked up a slight calf injury in training. Some hypothesized that Walter Samuel was healthy enough to be called up to the squad, but in better judgment, he was left off as there is no necessity to rush him back.

Inter started a strong lineup in front of Luca Castellazzi’s goal, with Maicon, Lucio, Ranocchia, and Nagatomo rounding out the defense. Captain Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso anchored the midfield, while Goran Pandev, Thiago Motta and Samuel Eto’o all played in support of lone striker Diego Milito.

Even with such names starting for the Nerazzurri, Inter had half chances, but none that were a serious threat on the opposition’s net. Cesena seemed to be the hungrier of the two teams, though, and were able to create chances on their opponents’ goal. The first half was lackluster for the away side and neither team was able to break the 0 – 0 deadlock before the halftime interval.

As the second half started, so did the downpour of rain. The pitch and ball became water laden and in turn, almost unmanageable for the Inter players. Balls and passes were not traveling far enough or reaching their intended targets and the weather seemed to mirror the Nerazzurri mood. Cesena, on the other hand, would not be stopped by the rain as they made Inter pay for shoddy defending. Igor Budan swept in behind both Lucio and Ranocchia, right in front of Castellazzi’s net, where he squared away a perfectly placed cross by Luca Ceccarelli. Replays showed that Budan had, in fact, been offside but a goal had been coming.

Within minutes after the goal, Leo took out Pandev for Giampaolo Pazzini and replaced Motta with MacDonald Mariga, hoping for an immediate impact. The intensity level picked up, as the Nerazzurri looked for the equalizer With three bonafide strikers, Inter looked to take advantage after Cesena substituted the attacking Giaccherini with the defensive Yohan Benalouane. Following a corner by Maicon, the ball did find its way into the back of the Romagnoli net, but was disallowed after much confusion. In the midst of Ranocchia being pulled down and a Cesena player heading the ball into his own goal, the ball had somehow been deemed to be out of play. (Yes, it was as confusing as it sounds.) Pazzini was able to get his head onto crosses by Maicon and Lucio, but neither hit the back of the net.

As the fourth referee signaled for added time, it looked like Inter were running out of time. Due to the time wasting or “cramping” of Cesena players and five substitutions between both teams, five minutes were added on. The equalizer came from a sublime Eto’o cross, with an even more sublime finish by Pazzini. As the clock wound down, the match produced a flurry of action. Milito played the ball out to Maicon in the dying seconds and the Brazilian crossed a hopeful ball in. Cue Pazzo. His header found the back of the net and just like that, Inter had won all three points.

Pazzini was named Sky’s “Man of the Match” and after a 40 day scoring drought, he showed his lethal abilities are still in tact by bagging a brace. Pazzo has been quite the talking point over the past week, as well. Last Thursday, he gave a candid interview to Inter Channel where he, no doubt, solidified his place in the eyes of some Inter tifosi.

Pazzini confirmed what was speculated, as he said the team knows the Scudetto was lost in the first half of the season during the stretch of “8 or 9 matches [where] we picked up 8 or 9 points from the 24 or 27. He also acknowledged the fact that he has a lot to learn in his game, particularly his off the ball movements (something that both Eto’o and Milito particularly excel at). He has found that teams also play Inter much harder than when he would face them with Sampdoria and most importantly, Pazzo has seen first hand what it means to the players to be able to wear the Nerazzurri shirt.

Next up for Inter is a Sunday afternoon visit from Pazzini’s former team, Fiorentina and their manager, ex-Inter player/assistant coach Sinisa Mihajlovic.

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