Rome (Agencies): Inter Milan progressed to third position in the Serie A table after labouring to a 3-0 victory at rock bottom Bari on Thursday.

Following league leaders AC Milan's 0-0 draw with Lazio on Tuesday, Inter endedthe gap to their bitter city rivals to seven points and with a game in hand.

Although the final score appeared comfortable it did not tell the story of a game that for 70 minutes seemed destined to finish in a sterile goalless deadlock.

But 20 minutes from time Morocco midfielder Houssine Kharja struck his first goal for the champions in his first start for the club.

Fellow transfer deadline day signing Giampaolo Pazzini then took his tally for the nerazzurri to three goals in two games with the first of two added time strikes before Wesley Sneijder on his injury comeback added the third.

Inter Coach Leonardo started the game with three strikers but admitted that his team improved when he made changes.

"I think it's because with three strikers they had fewer balls reaching them," he said.

However, there was controversy for Inter when left-back Christian Chivu punched Bari's Alessandro Parisi, an incident that was caught by TV cameras but missed by the referee.

"It's there, he did it, of course it's not good," said Leonardo after seeing the TV replay.

"We'll manage it ourselves, he'll certainly pay for it."

The major plus, though, was Pazzini, who has been an immediate hit with the Inter faithful.

"I'm happy, I've scored three goals in two games but the more important thing was to win," he said.

"Bari caused us problems, we struggled in the first half but then in the second we did better and we won a crucial game.

"We have to keep going in this vein, the most important thing is to maintain our desire to win."

The best chance of the first half came on 10 minutes when Bari's Sergio Almiron set his sights from a free-kick just outside the box but Julio Cesar made a diving one-handed save.

Inter Milan rarely threatened with a pair of half chances from right-back Maicon the closest they came to creating a breakthrough.