Already-relegated Chievo had not beaten Inter at San Siro in 15 attempts heading into Monday’s encounter, and they never looked likely to end that streak once Matteo Politano scored in the 39th minute.
Politano’s effort was just reward for a dominant performance from Luciano Spalletti’s side, though their fans were frustrated by wasteful finishing from Ivan Perisic and some fine saves from Adrian Semper.
Chievo’s slim hopes of a comeback were ended after Nicola Rigoni saw red late on, though, and Perisic made sure of the victory with four minutes to go as Inter moved back above Atalanta into third place.
Inter had no problem in asserting their authority, with both Perisic and Milan Skriniar passing up presentable chances in the opening stages.
Perisic went close again in the 28th minute – his shot from a tight angle well saved by Semper.
But Inter’s siege on Chievo’s goal finally paid off six minutes before half-time when Politano sent a precise finish in off the inside of the right-hand post.
Emanuel Vignato almost restored parity after the restart, though Chievo would have been further behind had Semper not pulled off a fine save to deny Politano a second before reacting sharply to keep out Perisic’s follow-up try.
Semper was beaten after the hour, but Perisic’s low strike clipped off the upright and fell kindly for the keeper.
Rigoni’s rash challenge on Roberto Gagliardini saw him receive a second yellow card soon after and Inter made their numerical advantage count when Perisic finally found the net after Cedric Soares had hit the woodwork.
What does it mean? Inter closing in on Champions League qualification
Two games remain of the Serie A season and, as it stands, Inter are in pole position to secure a place in Europe’s elite club competition.
The Nerazzurri sit third, one point above Atalanta and four better off than their city rivals AC Milan. One more win would be enough to guarantee a top-four finish.
Politano makes up for Perisic’s profligacy
It would be harsh to say Perisic had a poor game, given he was involved in most of Inter’s play but, until his late finish, the Croatia winger lacked his usual composure in front of goal.
Fortunately, his opposite winger Politano had no such issue, and he had already set Inter well on their way to a win when Perisic finally found his shooting boots.
Icardi a shadow of his former self
Inter striker Mauro Icardi has scored just once in Serie A since returning to the first-team fold, and he was largely anonymous on Monday against a defence that has conceded over 70 goals this season. Icardi then received a mixed reaction from the San Siro faithful when he was taken off in the 79th minute.
Given his form, perhaps Icardi’s loss – if indeed he is to leave in the close season – would not be such a blow to Inter after all.