Inter could only come away from the Tardini with a point, as Parma fought out a hard-earned draw.
Although a small blip in their title charge, the Nerazzurri will be the happier of the two sides after having to come from behind. The start of the match was bizarrely halted after Parma keeper Antonio Mirante changed his socks. The trick worked as Mirante was arguably the man of the match keeping out numerous chances from Diego Milito and Goran Pandev.
Jose Mourinho opted to keep new signing Macdonald Mariga on the bench but fielded an attacking line-up of Pandev, Samuel Eto’o and Milito. Inter predictably took the game to Parma, but it was clear from the start that the Gialloblu were ready for the counter-attack. Cristian Zaccardo came close with a long-range drive and Jonathan Biabiany was a constant nuisance to the Inter defence. Indeed the Nerazzurri did not always look comfortable on the ball in the early stages, and in the freezing conditions. Eto’o just weeks before was in warmer climates at the African Cup of Nations, here he seemed to have more than one scarf wrapped around his neck.
The second half started with more positive attacking play by the Gialloblu, seeking three points. And their efforts were paid off just 10 minutes into the half. From a corner Zaccardo volleyed well at Julio Cesar’s goal. The Inter keeper could only parry the ball away to the oncoming Valeri Bojinov who shot from close range. 1-0 to Parma, and the freezing tifosi were jubilant. Mourinho acted immediately bringing on Mario Balotelli and Davide Santon for Thiago Motta and Ivan Cordoba respectably .The Special One’s tactics paid dividends almost in a blink of an eye. From a corner, Lucio knocked the ball down into the path of Balotelli, and the young prodigy shot a fierce ball into the Parma net- 1-1. It is instant responses like this that will surely take Inter to the Scudetto once again.
Mourinho then gave Mariga his moment, returning to his former club, with the tired Eto’o brought off for the Kenyan. Parma Coach Francesco Guidolin took Mourinho’s cue to make his first substitution for the evening bringing on Alberto Paloschi for goal-scorer Bojinov. Whilst Inter retained possession, it was Parma who looked dangerous on the break. But in the 72nd minute Francesco Valiani went through the back of Lucio and received his second yellow card of the match and was off. Guidolin clapped his player off the pitch, and it appeared that words were said between the departing Valiani and Mourinho before Valiani stormed down the tunnel. Playing against 10 men Inter were in the ascendancy, but the Parma defence and the excellent Mirante were keeping the score level.
Late on Marco Materazzi took an awkward fall, but with all Inter’s substitutions used up, he had to play out the remaining minutes in pain. Soon after Santon made an incredible mazy run and passed to Milito on the edge of the area but the Argentinean was clearly off-side. Biabiany was creating dangerous runs and Esteban Cambiasso was lucky not to see red after a clumsy tackle on him. At the death Jimenez had a chance to snatch the points for the home team but his shot sailed over. It would have been a fitting end for him after being told that his wife is expecting triplets. The final whistle blew soon afterward and it was the first draw in this fixture for five years. Inter go nine points clear from second place Roma with the same games played. Mourinho of course would have loved the three points. But all credit to Parma because that option at least tonight was never a reality.