Inter v Shalke match report & reactions
FIRST HALF –
The Champions League was back and the Meazza’s capacity crowd welcomed back Diego Milito, who flanked Eto’o in the attacking duo in front of Sneijder; Zanetti played left back and in midfield we had Stankovic, Motta and Cambiasso.
The Champions League match kicked off and Inter looked like Inter again, with a sizzling goal which Stankovic launched from the centre spot with a right-footed missile after only 25 seconds of play. It came from a ball which Neuer cleared with a header from just ouside his area following a long pass from Cambiasso and Milito’s pressing. A goal which will make the statistics books, and the Nerazzurri took the lead 1-0.
Schalke tried to reply in the 5th minute with a cross into the area for Raul whose dive just didn’t connect with the ball. He did connect a few minutes later though, meeting Farfan’s cross, but Julio Cesar was ready for him and saved in the centre of the goalmouth. Sneijder almost made it two in the 8th minute when he rose to meet Milito’s cross, but his header was wide and to the right. Schalke’s equaliser came in the 17th minute from a corner, when Julio Cesar pulled off a miraculous save from a Papadopoulos header, the ball broke to Matip who found a gap in the crowded six-yard box to make it 1-1.
Once again it was Julio Cesar who in the 19th minute blocked to avoid the Germans’ second goal from Jurado’s left-footed volley. A work of art created by Maicon and Eto’o, which the Cameroonian put into the back of the net with a superb back-heel, was ruled offside and the free-kick was taken by Neuer in the 20th minute. In the 23rd minute Milito was pulled up for offside as well, after Sneijder sent him away with a through ball from 25 metres: the TV replay showed that the Argentine was actually onside when the ball was passed. Stankovic wasn’t able to play on after a violent clash in the 12th minute with Baumjohann and had to be substituted. Kharja came on for him in the 24th minute.
A lot of suffering and a lot of hard work went into this part of the match but it was worth it when Milito, the Prince, put Inter into the lead again: Zanetti crossed from the right, Sneijder picked up and found Cambiasso whose headed assist was volleyed home by Milito past Neuer to make it 2-1. But Schalke didn’t take it sitting down and kept on working until, in the 40th minute, they equalised with Edu, 2-2: assist from Baumjohann, the Brazilian picked up the loose ball after Julio Cesar saved brilliantly, but couldn’t hold onto it, and scored from the right-hand side of the six-yard box. In the third minute of injury time Farfan fouled Zanetti to pick up a yellow card and he’ll miss the return leg. After 3 minutes of added time the teams were sent into the dressing rooms with the score at 2-2.
SECOND HALF –
The second half got underway with the same 22 who had started the match and a chance for Milito who, finding himself with only Neuer to beat, shot narrowly wide off his left instep in the 46th minute. Eto’o tried again a minute later, picking up a pass from Sneijder, dribbling and firing left-footed only to see the ball turned away superbly for a corner by Neuer. A foul on Farfan after 52 minutes resulted in Chivu’s first yellow card which meant he would miss the match in Gelsenkirchen. A cross from Farfan and all of Raul’s class fooled the Inter defence and he scored to put the Germans back in front after 53 minutes, but Inter lost control at this point as did Ranocchia in the 57th minute when, as he looked to beat Jurado to the ball, he sent it past Julio Cesar to make it 2-4.
It wasn’t over yet, though. A foul on Edu led to Chivu’s second yellow and he was given his marching orders, leaving Inter with 10 men on the pitch. Inter did manage to drum up a little bit of luck, but all it meant was Jurado’s 65th minute shot hit the woodwork. Milito and Sneijder kept pressing forward but the defence thwarted every through ball and it was Schalke who scored again with Edu on 75 minutes: Julio Cesar and the post seemed to have saved Inter’s neck but moments later the ball came to the Brazilian, who made it 2-5. The German goalmouth seemed bewitched when, after 93 minutes of play, Eto’o could only manage to send the ball wide as his shot cut across the box.
After three minutes of added time Atkinson blew the whistle to bring the match to a close. Wednesday 13 April is the second leg in Gelsenkirchen, where nothing is impossible.
Inter 2-5 Schalke 04 (HT: 2-2)
Scorers: Stankovic 1, Matip 17, Milito 33, Edu 40, Raul 53, Ranocchia 57, Edu 75.
Referee: Martin Atkinson (England).
Booked: Stankovic 13, Farfan 48, Chivu 8 and 62, Sarpei 60, Papadopoulos 66, Raul 84.
Sent off: Chivu 62.
Added time: 3 + 3 minutes.
1 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 15 Ranocchia, 26 Chivu, 4 Zanetti; 5 Stankovic (14 Kharja, 24 – 2 Cordoba, 63), 8 Thiago Motta (55 Nagatomo, 76), 19 Cambiasso; 10 Sneijder; 9 Eto’o, 22 Milito.
Unused subs: 12 Castellazzi, 17 Mariga, 23 Materazzi, 27 Pandev.
1 Neuer; 22 Uchida, 4 Howedes, 14 Papadoulos , 2 Sarpei; 17 Farfan, 32 Matip, 11 Baumjohann (13 Schmitz, 76), 18 Jurado (31 Draxler, 83); 7 Raul (16 Karimi, 87), 9 Edu.
Unused subs: 33 Schober, 3 Escudero, 5 Plestan, 8 Hao.
Coach: Ralf Ragnick.
Excuses! (Sorry i mean Reactions)
“It’s been a very difficult week, a terrible week,” croaked Leonardo after the game, with virtually no voice left. He continued: “The game couldn’t have started any better. We were playing well. Who could have imagined it would turn out like that? A crushing defeat. We paid the full price for a couple of episodes: Schalke had seven shots on target and scored five goals. Was the team unbalanced? There were lots of things – fatigue, the episodes during the game – when you lose like that it’s never down to a single reason. In the second half, after we’d had our chances, they got two goals which pointed the game in a certain direction. Lots of things went wrong. We had used up so much energy getting to this point, closing the gap in the league, where we had no option but to win: that mentality is something instilled within the team.
“Unfortunately the crucial stage of the season hasn’t come at the best time. It was very difficult to cope with certain situations during the game. It’s hard to analyse a match like that tactically. We changed things around compared to the derby but, I repeat, it’s a series of factors; in the Champions League it’s often the moment that decides things. We put more men in the middle of the park today and Stankovic even scored, then we lost our shape a bit in certain episodes. With tonight’s result it’s pretty unrealistic to think about what could happen in the return leg, to think about pulling off such an incredible comeback, but we have to play the return leg and we will play it. We were all so happy until not long ago and now, together, we’ll get through this moment as well; the team needs to respond, recover some energy, mentally too, and get going again. And that’s what we will do.”
“The chat I had with Leonardo in the dressing room confirmed that he is a serious person; I’m glad we had it and I think he is too.” Massimo Moratti answered to questions from journalists waiting outside the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza after Inter’s defeat at the hands of Schalke 04 in the Champions League quarter-final first leg. “Of course he wasn’t in the best of moods,” continued the president speaking about the Nerazzurri coach. “I think he’d forgotten what it was like to be in such situations in football.”Moratti then offered his analysis of the game: “The defeat can be explained by fatigue. The extent of the defeat did surprise me, but you could see how tired they were on Saturday and you can’t recover in just a few days. How do we start over? In football you always have to start over, even from situations worse than this; in two games we were supposed to achieve so much and yet in two games we’ve undermined nearly everything, though nothing is definitive. And it hasn’t changed the essence of the team or the coach. We’ll see what happens. What has changed? Well, the mood has changed and I think that can help push the team on even more. My estimation of Leonardo hasn’t changed, though something might have for him, because he found himself having to deal with two different situations. For me nothing has changed because I know how cruel football can be and you have to keep going without losing heart. I didn’t like arrogance and I don’t like helplessness. We’ll go on as we are and we’ll see what happens – we’ve won a lot playing like this and we will win more. What I liked least was the tiredness in the team, you could see the players were struggling; that’s not to blame them, but you could imagine that something like that might happen”
“We lost a game that was really important to us, a strange game.” Speaking to Mediaset Premium, Esteban Cambiasso commented on the match that ended in a 2-5 defeat for Inter. If we analyse that match on the spot, we can say that we started well then found ourselves level, then we were back in control again before they equalised once more. After the break, Inter carried on playing well but after 10 or 15 minutes we conceded two goals, with a sending off in between, and that’s where it all went wrong. Now we must stay calm and start again, without hiding away, and get back to thinking about things with a clear head.”Asked whether Inter were drained, Cambiasso replied: “Mentally, you could have said we were if the game had ended something like 0-3, but as we scored after a few seconds I don’t think that was the case. Physically, we paid the price against AC Milan and today the some thing happened.”
So how will Inter travel to Gelsenkirchen? “We still have a chance to turn it around. Schalke came here and scored 5 goals, so we can do the same there. Of course, we have less chance, we can’t deny that. But this is football and there have been games that have taught us that you have to believe, always.”
“We have to stay calm,” explained Inter captain Javier Zanetti to Inter Channel. “Calm so that we can understand what the problems were and then start again, as we have many times in the past. We’ll do it again this time. We certainly aren’t going to throw away the good things we’ve done so far because of these two defeats. Together we’ll look forward.”