Inter sealed a first victory of the Champions League group stage as they ended Sheriff's unlikely 100% record at San Siro on Tuesday night.
Clearly anxious to secure a much-needed win, Inter dominated the first half - although they had to be patient to open the scoring. Wing-back Denzel Dumfries ran through on a blistering counterattack after a quarter of an hour, but could not sort his feet out before being smothered by the keeper.
The breakthrough came ten minutes before the break after Federico Dimarco saw a whipped free kick tipped over. From the resulting corner, Arturo Vidal flicked on a header to the unmarked Edin Dzeko, who showed exquisite technique to volley into the top corner with his instep.
Ivan Perisic and Dzeko both saw good efforts saved ahead of half-time, before Sheriff shocked the footballing world once again.
After Dimarco was penalised for a cynical trip about 30 yards out, Sebastian Thill stepped up to curl home an incredible free kick to bring the minnows level and spark wild celebrations.
Inter responded immediately, with Perisic crashing the ball against the outside of the post before Dzeko turned provider to slip through Arturo Vidal a minute later, who squeezed the ball past the goalkeeper to restore the hosts' lead.
Nine minutes later the Nerazzurri had a two-goal cushion. Dumfries headed a corner back across goal, and centre-back Stefan de Vrij produced a striker's finish to volley home.
Inter were comfortable thereafter and saw out the game, although they did come close to adding a fourth as Perisic and Lautaro Martinez got in each others' way but still managed to rattle the crossbar with a joint effort, before substitute Stefano Sensi bent a good effort narrowly wide and Martinez's last-minute volley was tipped over.
Here's how the Inter players rated...
INTER PLAYER RATINGS
1. Goalkeeper & defenders
Samir Handanovic (GK) - 6/10 - Saved well from range late in the first half. Should have done better from Thill's free kick.
Milan Skriniar (CB) - 6/10 - Not at his best and occasionally tested by Sheriff's frontline, but did enough.
Stefan de Vrij (CB) - 7/10 - Typically staunch defending and a wonderful volleyed finish to make it 3-1.
Federico Dimarco (CB) - 7/10 - Almost an attacking centre-back at times. Found himself way upfield but powered over in the first half. Excellent curling free kick tipped just over. Booked for a cynical trip and then subbed after conceding the Sheriff free kick.
2. Wing-backs & midfielders
Denzel Dumfries (RWB) - 8/10 - Showed his lightning pace running through 15 minutes in, but couldn't produce the finish. Blasted another first-half chance into the side-netting. Excellent headed assist for his compatriot De Vrij.
Nicolo Barella (CM) - 7/10 - Not as involved as usual with Vidal stealing the show, but still busy and industrious. Seemingly always guaranteed a 7/10 showing at the very least.
Marcelo Brozovic (CM) - 7/10 - Metronomic at the base of midfield. Excellent corner deliveries led to two of the goals. Subbed.
Arturo Vidal (CM) - 8/10 - Strong start. Flicked headed assist for Dzeko's opener. Absolutely everywhere, popping up with the crucial second. Subbed.
Ivan Perisic (LWB) - 7/10 - A constant threat going forward. Rattled the outside of the post and put in countless dangerous crosses. Subbed shortly after hitting the woodwork again.
Edin Dzeko (ST) - 9/10 - Brilliant technique to volley his side into the lead, looping the ball into the top corner with his instep. Really cute assist for Vidal. Subbed with Inter suddenly cruising.
Lautaro Martinez (ST) - 7/10 - Gave the ball away in the first half but tracked all the way back to deny an opening. Flicked a half-chance over with the outside of his boot. Busy but unable to affect play. Late volley tipped over.
Alessandro Bastoni (CB) - 6/10 - Brought on for Dimarco immediately after conceding and shored things up defensively.
Roberto Gagliardini (CM) - 7/10 - Some nice touches and got involved.
Alexis Sanchez (ST) - N/A
Stefano Sensi (CM) - N/A
Aleksandar Kolarov (LWB) - N/A