Inter 3-1 Catania Last Game of League Season Secures 12th Home Win In A Row
With Julio Cesar, Sneijder and Cambiasso all sidelined, Leonardo picked Castellazzi in goal with Stankovic playing right from the kick-off, making up the midfield along with Zanetti and Thiago Motta; Milito started on the bench so, playing in front of Kharja, were Pazzini and Eto’o (in the Cameroonian’s 100th match in Italy). For Catania, with Maxi Lopez unavailable, Schelotto, Bergessio and Gomez took over the attack. The Nerazzurri wore their white away-strip and former player Simeone received applause before Pierpaoli whistled to start the match.
Kharja was the first to come close to scoring after only 8 minutes as he picked up a ball from Chivu and sent it crashing against the bar with a hard right-footed shot from outside the area. A minute later Nagatomo crossed from the right into the middle of the penalty area, Eto’o got a foot to it and Kharja managed to control, but in the confusion Alvarez succeeded in clearing on 9 minutes. Once again however, it was Pazzini who put Inter into the lead as he notched up his 10th goal in a blue and black shirt. Eto’o found Thiago Motta whose back-heeled pass resulted in a clash between Potenza and Kharja, with the Nerazzurri winning the ball and setting up Pazzo.
He had no trouble at all leaving Campagnolo stranded as he struck the ball confidently to make it 1-0 to Inter in the 15th minute. On 27 minutes, following a wonderful pass by Stankovic, Eto’o brought Campagnolo into action again as he saved his curling right-footed shot. The Cameroonian popped up again one minute later as he shot from outside the area, but the ball went high over the crossbar. Pierpaoli’s whistle on 46 minutes sent the teams into the dressing rooms with the score at 1-0 in Inter’s favour.
SECOND HALF –
The second half got underway with Milito in attack in place of Eto’o and it was the Prince who broke away on the right and laid off an inch-perfect pass across the box which found Pazzini ready and waiting to fire into the net right-footed and put Inter 2-0 up. Catania began to react and on 55 minutes Bergessio’s shot from the edge of the area found Castellazzi ready to parry the ball away for a corner-kick.
The final day of the 2010/11 league season was also to bring glory to Nagatomo who made it three in the 63rd minute, as he scored his second ever goal for the Nerazzurri, after his first in Genoa v Inter. Picking up a pass from Lucio, his shot took a slight upward deflection off Terlizzi as it sped diagonally across the box into the back of the net.
Catania got back into the match in the 66th minute when Ledesma scored following a corner taken by Lodi. But Inter continued to dominate. Chivu, after being set up by Nagatomo, tried to catch Campagnolo unawares with a header in the goalmouth, but the Sicilian goalkeeper was equal to it and turned the ball away for a corner on 68 minutes. In the 69th minute a controversial episode, when Terlizzi and Materazzi made contact, could have led to a possible penalty for the Nerazzurri, but Pierpaoli waved play on.
In the 70th minute all of the Stadio Meazza rose to welcome a visibly-moved Walter Samuel back onto the pitch and it was a matter of minutes before “the Wall” narrowly missed a chance from a Kharja corner and Milito didn’t manage a match-winning deflection on 71 minutes. After 2 minutes of added time Inter v Catania ended with a score of 3-1 to the Nerazzurri. Inter thus closed their league campaign with a total of 76 points and second place in the table. Next target for Inter is the Coppa Italia: see you at the Stadio Olimpico on 29 May.
Inter 3-1 Catania (HT: 1-0)
Scorers: Pazzini 15, 48, Nagatomo 63, Ledesma 66.
Added time: 1 + 2 minutes.
12 Castellazzi; 55 Nagatomo, 15 Ranocchia (25 Samuel 70), 6 Lucio, 26 Chivu; 4 Zanetti, 8 Thiago Motta, 5 Stankovic (23 Materazzi 56); 14 Kharja; 7 Pazzini, 9 Eto’o (22 Milito 46).
Unused subs: 21 Orlandoni, 17 Mariga, 23 Materazzi, 27 Pandev, 29 Coutinho.
Unused subs: 1 Kosicky, 13 Izco, 15 Morimoto, 18 Augustyn, 20 Martinho.
Coach: Diego Simeone.
“Twelve home wins in a row means lots of things: points on the board, consistency, and the fact that the team has been able to produce. But the satisfaction lies more in what we have achieved than in the record itself.” That was how Leonardo replied, after the 3-1 win over Catania, when reminded of the Nerazzurri’s 12 consecutive home wins with him in the dugout.
“Staying in control of the game at a slow pace wasn’t easy,” he added. “It wasn’t easy but the players did really well. There were lots of positives today and Inter are definitely on the up. Overall it’s been a positive season, although there’s still one game left and it’s a really important one for us. What we have achieved since 6 January has been great – the only major disappointment are those four damned days. But now we have to focus on the Coppa Italia final, which is a big target. The image of the winning team will remain in people’s minds because it is the last match of the European season. Are Palermo tough opposition? They did very well in the first part of the season and have been less consistent since then, but they have great qualities as a team and as individuals.”
Naturally, the coach was also asked about possible transfer deals: “We’ve got to the point where the transfer market permeates everything. I think this team just needs a few minor adjustments to be competitive on all fronts. The core of the team is there and it’s what gives this group its spirit, so that shouldn’t be touched.”
Leonardo also spoke about Walter Samuel, who was acclaimed by the Meazza crowd when he came on: “Today he gave us a further sign that that everything is going well.”
“We wanted to round things off with a party atmosphere by doing as well as we could, and I think we did that with a great performance today. It’s what we needed to help us go into next week’s final on top of our game.” Speaking to Inter Channel, Javier Zanetti analysed the game that ended Inter’s Serie A 2010/11 league campaign. It was also the prelude to what will be the Nerazzurri’s most important match of the season: the Coppa Italia final. Inter’s opponents in next Sunday’s final, Palermo, were beaten by Chievo today, and Zanetti was asked if he thought their defeat could have a bearing on next week’s game. “No, because it’s a final and both teams will be giving it their absolute best.”
Nagatomo scored a lovely goal to cap a fantastic performance against Catania. “I find it very easy to play alongside Yuto,” the captain continued. “He has lots of qualities and I don’t know how many times he managed get free and put in perfect crosses.” Is he left- or right-footed? “No one seems to know but anyhow I’m very pleased for him because he’s settled in really well and has become an important part of this team.”
Rational and focused – would that be a fair description of the way Inter played against Catania today? “The main reason we needed a performance like that was to go into next Sunday at our best,” explained Zanetti. “A game which, I repeat, is very important to us so that we can round off the season raising another trophy.”
Giampaolo Pazzini spoke to Inter Channel after hitting a double against Catania, which took his tally for the Nerazzurri to eleven: “I’m really happy with this win, with my brace and with these first few months I’ve spent here at Inter – I feel as if I’ve settled in perfectly. There are lots of world-class players at this club and doing well here gives me great pride and makes me happy. I was desperate to show what I can do and I think I’ve done that. What counts now, of course, is keeping it up. Next year we’ll start the season with even more enthusiasm.”
Asked which of his eleven goals for Inter is his favourite, Pazzini replied: “The second goal against Palermo, which levelled the score at 2-2. It was my debut and that goal meant a lot.”
What about next week’s final? “I’ve only taken part in one Coppa Italia final, and unfortunately we lost on penalties. I want to make up for that next Sunday.”
“I’m very happy, but more for what the whole team did today. I’m really pleased with my goal – my second at the Meazza – and the warmth of the crowd and my team-mates was touching.” After his stunning strike against Catania, which put Inter 3-0 up, Yuto Nagatomo told the Japanese journalists about how he felt after his first four months playing for Inter by giving himself a mark: “I’d say 6/10 because I still have learn and improve lots of things. I’m aware of that and it’s something I will strive to do.
“Am I right- or left-footed? I feel comfortable on the right or on the left, wherever Leonardo needs me. I’ll make whatever sacrifices are necessary to help him and the whole group.”
With Inter ending the season in second place, Nagatomo admitted that “Of course I would have preferred to be first because always want to win, but we finished second and we still have a cup final to play.”
A huge grin spread across his face when he was asked about his goal: “How did I score it? I shot… and the ball went in.”
Finally, Nagatomo reminded everybody about the important event taking place tomorrow afternoon in Perugia – a friendly match to raise funds for the city of Sendai. “I will be there and Materazzi will be with me.”
Walter Samuel spoke to Sky Sport Italia after the Inter v Catania match, clearly moved by the affection the Meazza faithful showed him when he made his entrance as a second-half substitute: “It was a wonderful moment, a great feeling to see all the people that have been so supportive to me – my family, the president, who has said such kind things about me, Leonardo, who brought me on. I hope I can always be of assistance to the team, maybe even in Rome. I’m pleased and proud to be part of this group. It was tough for me being on the sidelines for so long but I’m happy now.”