Gabriel Barbosa's long wait for a first Serie A goal ended as the Brazil international came off the bench to seal a 1-0 win for Inter at Bologna.
Stefano Pioli's men looked set to miss out on the opportunity to regain fourth place in the top flight as Bologna displayed the type of defensive resilience entirely absent from their 7-1 thrashing at the hands of Napoli at Stadio Renato Dall'Ara earlier this month.
But Gabriel – who arrived amid much fanfare from Santos but offered little to back up his famed 'Gabigol' nickname across five previous substitute cameos in Italy's top flight – provided a headline-grabbing turn worthy of a forward talent who helped to fire the home nation to gold-medal glory at Rio 2016, alongside Neymar and Gabriel Jesus.
The finish was of a welcome routine nature for the 20-year-old, who tore off his shirt and streamed towards the delirious travelling support to bask in the moment.
Inter are back above surprise package Atalanta and Lazio in the jostle for European qualification ahead of next weekend's crunch clash with second-place Roma.
Pioli's side got on the front foot from kick-off and only a dreadful 12th-minute miss by captain Rodrigio Palacio prevented their efforts from being rewarded.
Inter's matchwinner was denied a second by Adam Masina's goalline clearance – suggesting the trials of six torturous months might be behind him already.
Key Opta stats
- Bologna fired only one shot on target - their worst in a league game this term.
- Inter have won each of their last five Serie A games that were 0-0 at half time, conceding no goals.
- Bologna have lost four consecutive Serie A matches for the first time since October 2015.
- Inter have picked up 48 points, their best tally after 25 matches since 2009-10.