Jose Mourinho was watching on as his former club took advantage of dead-ball situations to move back into the top four prior to Sunday’s fixtures
Inter enjoyed a welcome return to winning ways as a 3-1 victory over Sampdoria lifted them back into the top four in Serie A.
Playing before former boss Jose Mourinho and ex-Brazil striker Ronaldo in the San Siro stands, Roberto Mancini’s men claimed only their second league win in the past eight attempts.
Sampdoria, where Mancini was a crowd hero during his lengthy playing association with the club, matched Inter for long periods, but slack defending from corners in each half allowed home defenders Danilo D’Ambrosio and Miranda to get on the scoresheet for the first time this season.
Vincenzo Montella’s strugglers wasted set-piece opportunities of their own and fell behind against the run of play before ex-Sampdoria striker Mauro Icardi was on hand to dish out further misery in the 73rd minute.
Experienced striker Fabio Quagliarella clipped home a fine first goal for Sampdoria, who will need more of the same from their transfer-window recruit as they languish three points above the bottom three.
Inter will drop back to fifth should Roma beat Palermo on Sunday, but they should at least head into next weekend’s clash trip to leaders Juventus with a measure of their early season confidence restored.
Despite the fanfare generated by the presence of two club icons, Inter made a lethargic start.
Ricky Alvarez drew a near-post save from Samir Handanovic on his San Siro return and Sampdoria defender Andrea Ranocchia – like Dodo a loanee playing against his parent club – powered a header over from the resulting corner.
Quagliarella sent a clever lofted finish beyond Handanovic’s far post and Ranocchia passed up another set-piece opportunity before Inter showed their opponents how it was done in the 23rd minute.
Jeison Murillo rose highest to flick on a right-wing corner from Marcelo Brozovic at the near post and D’Ambrosio was on the move to volley home left footed.
Sampdoria continued to pose plenty of questions despite that setback, with Joaquin Correa frustrated in the 38th minute when his goalbound shot struck D’Ambrosio’s arm inside the Inter penalty area.
After half-time, Ranocchia was close to touching home Dodo’s header from Fernando’s free-kick on the left-hand edge of the area.
Despite their vulnerabilities from a defensive point-of-view, Inter were far more comfortable attacking dead balls – as evidenced when Miranda doubled their lead in the 57th minute.
Felipe Melo had the beating of the Sampdoria defence on this occasion and the officials correctly ruled goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano shovelled Miranda’s header away from behind his line.
Sampdoria could not respond with any conviction this time around and their malaise was summed up by substitute Luis Muriel woefully attempting a backheel on halfway, leaving Icardi to power through on the end of Brozovic’s pass and complete the scoring.
Montella’s men are now without a win in eight Serie A matches since January’s derby against Genoa, losing six during this slump, and Quagliarella emphatically latching on to Muriel’s throughball was scant consolation in the 92nd minute.
Mancini will hope his own team’s downturn is a thing of the past with Juventus on the horizon.