Inter beat Palermo in eight-goal thriller

MILAN - Leaders Inter Milan moved four points clear in Serie A after a remarkable 5-3 win over Palermo on Thursday when the champions went 4-0 up by half-time before almost throwing victory away.

Second-placed Juventus threw down the gauntlet on Wednesday with a 5-1 thrashing of high-flying Sampdoria and Jose Mourinho's Inter side rose to the challenge with a dominant home performance - in the first half at least.

"It became a bit complicated. We've got to work to avoid that happening," Inter right back Maicon told Sky television in after Palermo fought back to 4-3.

Inter's win puts them on 25 points from 10 matches ahead of Juve, with third-placed Sampdoria now five points behind the leaders who are chasing a fifth straight scudetto.


Samuel Eto'o opened the scoring with a seventh minute penalty after strike partner Mario Balotelli, 19, was felled.

Balotelli, so often criticised by Mourinho for his immature attitude, demanded to take the spot kick and captain Javier Zanetti had to pull him away from designated taker Eto'o.

After a mild sulk, Balotelli intensified his bid for a goal and was rewarded when he headed in a corner after 34 minutes.

His second goal followed soon after when the uncompromising forward prodded in Esteban Cambiasso's header on the line even though the ball would have gone in anyway.

The Italy Under-21 striker then cut the ball back for Cameroon striker Eto'o to ram home the fourth at the near post just before the break.

Balotelli had picked up a cold in the build-up to the game and although he wore a scarf in the first half, he asked to be substituted just seconds into the second period.

Inter, who also lost Eto'o to injury, seemed to lose focus thereafter and Palermo's Fabrizio Miccoli quickly pulled a goal back after first dinking the ball over goalkeeper Julio Cesar.

Uruguayan Abel Hernandez then finished off a superb move just past the hour for the side coached by former Inter keeper Walter Zenga and the Sicilians suddenly believed they could pull off an incredible comeback when more Miccoli magic made it 4-3.

However, Inter substitute Diego Milito settled the San Siro's nerves when he converted Maicon's excellent cross seven minutes from time.