| Claudio Ranieri admits his team are struggling and have a lot to work on [AFP]
Inter Milan's woes deepened Sunday as they slipped to a 1-0 loss at home to bottom-place Novara in Serie A, despite having a man advantage for the final 10 minutes.
On-loan Genoa striker Andrea Caracciolo scored the only goal of the game in the 56th minute to inflict more misery on Inter, who lost 4-0 at Roma last weekend.
Novara midfielder Ivan Radovanovic was dismissed for a second booking and although Inter went closer in the dying stages, with Wesley Sneijder hitting the crossbar, they could not find the equaliser and the team left the pitch to jeers and whistles from their fans.
Inter's fifth successive game without victory in all competitions leaves them back in fifth. Novara are now level on points with Cesena and four points off safety - albeit having played two games more than Siena.
Elsewhere, Catania beat Genoa 4-0 and Lecce drew 0-0 at Atalanta.
"We knew that we would be facing a team that would close itself up,'' Inter coach Ranieri said.
"Things aren't going well for us at the moment, we have to remain close to these boys and continue to work"
Inter coach Claudio Ranieri
"And I was forced to start with only one striker as (Giampaolo) Pazzini wasn't feeling well and so I started with him on the bench.
"We pushed and did what we could do. Caracciolo scored a great goal. Good for him, bad for us. That's what it's like, things aren't going well for us at the moment, we have to remain close to these boys and continue to work."
At the San Siro, the only real chance of a drab first half came on the half-hour mark when Inter goalkeeper Julio Cesar rushed out in the nick of time to smother Caracciolo's shot.
He could do nothing about the player's winning strike, however, when Caracciolo brought down the ball with his right foot before cutting inside and curling a left-footed shot into the top left corner from 20 yards out.
Inter were gifted a chance to get back in the game when Radovanovic kicked the ball away after the referee had blown for a foul and the player was shown a second yellow card and sent off.
Sneijder struck the free kick from a dangerous position, and Novara goalkeeper Samir Ujkani did well to save. The Dutch playmaker had another good opportunity five minutes from time but he fired narrowly wide of the left post.
Three minutes later, Sneijder unleashed a fierce shot from just outside the area which crashed off the crossbar before Ujkani pulled off a point-blank save to deny Giampaolo Pazzini with the last action of the game.
Catania got off to a flying start against Genoa as Francesco Lodi scored the opener from the spot in the seventh minute after Alejandro Gomez had been fouled in the area.
They doubled the lead four minutes after the break when a mix-up in the Genoa defence saw the ball fall to Pablo Barrientos who slotted it home.
Barrientos doubled his tally three minutes later, slotting home Gonzalo Bergessio's cross after Sergio Almiron tricked the Genoa defence into following him with his run across the ball.
Catania scored the fourth when Bergessio raced clear onto a long ball over the defence and fired it past Genoa goalkeeper Sebastien Frey.
In Bergamo, Atalanta were somehow held to a goalless draw by Lecce. The visiting players had their backs to the wall for almost the entire first half as they were forced to withstand wave after wave of Atalanta attacks.
Federico Peluso saw a shot crash off the right upright, a minute after Guido Marilungo had also struck the woodwork.
Lecce's best chance came just after the hour mark when Gennaro Delvecchio tried an acrobatic overhead kick in the area which flew narrowly over.