Inter snatch late win over Udinese

MILAN: Defending champions Inter Milan needed a last-minute goal by Wesley Sneijder to beat Udinese 2-1 on Saturday and move top of the Serie A standings.

Dejan Stankovic gave Inter the lead in the 22nd, but Antonio Di Natale equalized just five minutes later with his ninth goal of the season. The hosts missed Thiago Motta's offensive spark from midfield, and the attack lacked focus after Diego Milito went off.

However, Inter kept pressing and it paid off in injury time when Sneijder scored his first goal for the club since signing from Real Madrid in the summer. "It is an important win this evening," Stankovic said. "In the first half they put us under a lot of pressure, but in the second we were better. We didn't have much energy by the end, but the win was about the team. We didn't stop working, we gave everything and we showed we are a great team."

Inter took the lead after Samuel Eto'o held the ball up on the edge of the Udinese area, then slipped it to the overlapping Stankovic to blast past Udinese's Samir Handanovic. Di Natale then took advantage of Christian Chivu playing him onside by racing into the area and slipping the ball over Inter keeper Julio Cesar. Udinese should have taken the lead just before halftime. Alex Sanchez took advantage of more dithering from Chivu, but came under pressure from the recovering Lucio and blasted his shot high from close range.

After the break, only Inter appeared prepared to attack. Eto'o and Stankovic both went wide with shots and Sulley Muntari wasted a great chance by shooting wide after Handanovic had palmed away Stankovic's shot. Aleksander Lukovic had an excellent chance to wrap up the win for the visitors, but after finding space behind the Inter defense he took too long on the ball and Stankovic was able to make the tackle.

It was a much-needed win for Inter, after losing to Sampdoria in the last round and then being held to a draw against Russian club Rubin Kazan in the Champions League. "With Sneijder back we passed the ball better than against Sampdoria and against Rubin Kazan," said Inter coach Jose Mourinho.