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).
|Osaka injured in Birmingham, Kerber crashes out in Mallorca|
|Iran 0 Spain 1: Costa goal breaks stubborn resistance|
|Cilic battles back but Wawrinka bows out at Queen´s|
|Messi the greatest but Croatia will play to beat Argentina, says Dalic|
|Thiem stunned by Sugita in Halle|
|Salah rejects talk of rift in Egypt camp|
|England Women follow up men´s ODI record with T20I high|
|Southgate laughs off dislocated shoulder: Better me than one of the players!|
|World Cup hosts Russia qualify as Egypt make early exit|
|Pique wins 100th Spain cap in Iran World Cup clash|
|Serbia v Switzerland: Kolarov not interested in playing for a draw|
|Rakitic wary of ´uber-motivated´ Messi|
|Not my finest moment - Mickelson issues apology after U.S. Open controversy|
|´Best in the world´ Messi the victim of unfair treatment, says Sampaoli|
|Suarez off the mark but resurgent Russia will not fear stuttering Uruguay|
|Uruguay 1 Saudi Arabia 0: Centurion Suarez strikes to send La Celeste, Russia through|
|Peru boss Gareca not a fan of ´novelty´ VAR|
|Nigeria v Iceland: Hallgrimsson anticipates another intense battle|
|Griezmann to face Peru despite ankle issue and struggles – Deschamps|
|Leicester sign Norwich´s Maddison|
|Leinster face Wasps, Bath, Toulouse in Champions Cup draw|
|2019 Ashes to start World Test Championship|
|Wizards to face Knicks in London next season|
|Vettel eyeing Paul Ricard profits - French GP in numbers|
|Malaga turn to Muniz once again|
|Amrabat: VAR doesn´t work if you do not use it|
|Suarez earns 100th Uruguay cap|
|You´ve got to look beyond football - Denmark chip in to fly new father Knudsen home|
|Neymar returns to Brazil training after injury scare|
|No passports required - Burnley´s 51-year wait for European tie sees Clarets draw... Aberdeen|
|Huddersfield bring in Bacuna to boost midfield|
|Forget the GOAT and the goatee - just enjoy Ronaldo and Messi|
|Ronaldo bearing down on Daei after going past Puskas - The top five goalscorers in international foo|
|Portugal 1 Morocco 0: Record-breaker Ronaldo sends Renard´s men out|
|Halep pulls out of Eastbourne International|
|Brazil v Costa Rica: Coutinho ready for more Selecao toil|
|Muller and Bierhoff dismiss reports of German disharmony|
|Mooy can play at a higher level, says Socceroos boss Van Marwijk|
|Remarkable Ronaldo breaks Puskas´ European record|
|Belgian Grand Prix deal agreed until 2021|
|Isco: I´m not going to speak to Ronaldo again!|
|Slater expects to be fit for Origin II|
|Curran and Overton added to England ODI squad|
|Hussey fears Australia will be left with ´mental scars´|
|Fabianski swaps Swansea for West Ham|
|Loftus-Cheek ready to replace Alli|
|England are a team now - Rashford|
|Lazaridis calls for Cahill to start against Denmark|
|Arzani and Ryan can play at the highest level, says Bosnich|
|Dust (Ja)pan and brush: Blue Samurai fans clean up in Saransk|
|Lodge reaches agreement over New York attack|
|Gerrard can become a strong manager - Arena|
|Arsenal target Torreira has left for €30m, says Sampdoria chief|
|Murray unsure over Wimbledon participation|
|De Gea has to bounce back from Ronaldo shocker - Bosnich|
|Martinez not looking for perfection|
|Farah´s Wests Tigers return confirmed|
|Cubs get extra-inning win to split doubleheader with Dodgers|
|Denmark will ´struggle´ if Australia stop Eriksen, says Jakobsen|
|Astros´ win streak ends at 12|
|Lahm backs Germany, Low after losing start|
|Messi has all our support – Dybala|
|Strickland apologises for ´stupid decision´ that led to broken hand|
|Five-time Open Championship winner Thomson dies aged 88|
|´Positive´ Pogba not bitter towards media, says Varane|
|Portugal privileged to have ´humble´ Ronaldo, says Pepe|
|Strickland breaks hand punching door after blown save, out for up to eight weeks|
|He will have received good money – Costa delighted by Griezmann extension|
|Kane: Pochettino sent me love hearts after World Cup heroics|
|Nationals place Adams on 10-day DL with broken finger|