LONDON – Inter Milan stormed back from a goal down to defeat bottom-of-the-table Lecce and end 2011 on a high with an emphatic 4-1 victory at the San Siro.
Luis Muriel gave the visitors a surprise lead in the 19th minute, but Giampaolo Pazzini equalised for the hosts before the break and second-half strikes from Diego Milito, Esteban Cambiasso and Ricardo Alvarez completed the comeback.
The Nerazzurri endured a dismal start to the campaign but have picked up of late and head into the winter break in fifth spot, eight points behind leading duo AC Milan and Juventus.
Despite their lowly position, Lecce started brightly and could have gone ahead in the 12th minute, but Davide Brivio's long-range effort flew just wide.
They did take the lead seven minutes later, though, when Muriel latched onto Christian Obodo's fine pass and fired a right-footed shot into the bottom-left corner.
Walter Samuel went within a whisker of getting the stunned hosts back on level terms on the half-hour with a powerful header from Maicon's free-kick, but it struck the left post.
However, they were back on level terms in the 34th minute. Another Maicon set-piece troubled the Lecce defence, this time a corner from which Pazzini was able to tap home from close range.
Inter turned up the heat in the remainder of the first half but could not find a way past Lecce goalkeeper Ugo Gabrieli before the interval.
Maicon lashed wide, while Gabrieli produced decent saves to deny Thiago Motta and Marco Faraoni.
The Inter onslaught continued after the break, and in the 49th minute they were ahead. Alvarez fed Milito, who made no mistake with a right-footed shot into the bottom-left corner.
Inter keeper Julio Cesar had to be alert just after the hour to preserve his side's lead, pulling off a brilliant save to keep out Daniele Corvia's close-range shot.
Corvia passed up a further chance to equalise midway through the second half following good work by Juan Cuadrado, but in the 73rd minute Inter gave themselves some breathing space with a third goal.
Yuto Nagatomo neatly rounded Cuadrado and then set up Cambiasso, who netted from close range.
Again Julio Cesar was required to keep out spirited Lecce 12 minutes from time, David Di Michele the unlucky player on this occasion, and two minutes later Inter put the result beyond any doubt when Alvarez finished off a good move involving Nagatomo.