So that’s it the transfer window for 2011 and what a summer it has been, unlike last season there has been a lot of movement in and out of Inter. It all started with rumours of Sneijder going to Manchester United for a record transfer fee of €35+ million and the equally amazing rumour that want away Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez was linked with a move to the Nerazzurri. Then the club was thrown in to chaos as the then manager Leonardo was 1st linked with a directors job at PSG which he denied at first and then shortly afterward took it leaving Moratti without a coach, from that point on rumours started flying about possible replacements including Jose Mourinho’s protegé Andres Villas Boas but eventually after being turned down by a hand full of world class coaches Moratti decided on what was the best of the rest Gian Piero Gasperini and so Inter’s transfer window resumed, though another cloud was hovering over Inter, our huge debt and the need to resolve it in time for the FFP’s and so the massive spending of old that Moratti was famous for had to be held in check. That doesn’t mean we haven’t brought in some fantastic players though, while offloading others that weren’t part of the future plan for us or could bring in a healthy profit to help us financially…..
Samuel Eto’o has completed his move to Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala after passing his medical on Wednesday night and has now joined up with his new team mates at the squads base in Moscow. The reported figures for the transfer aren’t as high as have been speculated in recent days with Anzhi paying Inter 21 million Euros and paying Eto’o 10 million Euros per season
When asked about the move Eto’o said
“The project is very interesting, money is not so important for me, that’s just part of football,”
His debut with the Russian club will come on Saturday when Anzhi take on Rostov and he will be wearing the number 99 shirt. Many people in the football world think this move is a massive backwards step for Eto’o who is the most decorated African player in history, playing for not only Inter & Barcelona but also Mallorca and Real Madrid, during his career he has been named African player of the year four times and has won the European Champions league three times including two trebles back to back. He has also won both the Spanish and Italian leagues, an Olympic gold medal and the African cup of nations twice. For me he is one of the greatest strikers of all time.
Inter’s first pre season friendly went with a bang as Gasperini’s flexed their muscles in a 6-1 win over local side Trentino this afternoon with usual suspects Pazzini & Eto’o scoring the first two goals in the 1st half. Trentino managed to claw one back with a high curling shot over Castellazzi. New boy Alvarez slotted home the 3rd and narrowly missed a wonderful long range effort from outside the box, Pandev gave Inter their 4th showing that despite being fairly slow & clumsy he can still put them away. The final two goals came from youngsters Castaignos & Longo. I have to admit I didn’t see the match as I was working but from what I’ve seen on YouTube Ricky & Luc both are showing that they are fantastic purchases for the Nerazzurri as well as the established players showing that the ‘Grande Inter’ is still is alive & kicking. I realise that we were only playing a small fry local team but the squad seems to be connecting very well & for me this upcoming season is looking very promising.
When the Inter squad & new manager Gian Piero Gasperini arrived at the team hotel in Pinzolo they were greeted by hordes of Interista all waiting to get a glimpse of our heroes, they were all there, apart from those involved in the Copa America and Coutinho (Under-20 World Cup).
The new season for Inter & Gasperini starts here!
Just before the 1st training session at the Stadio Pineta started at 17:00 over 5000 fans opened the training camp with applause & a standing ovation for the giant photograph of a smiling Facchetti unfolded by Ivan Cordoba & Dejan Stankovic which will stay on the wall of the changing rooms facing the pitch for the length of the training camp.
Now the season can get going: Gian Piero Gasperini’s Inter are kicking off with their first training session of 2011/12 & also their first working with the new boss.
The session today was completely dedicated to ball-play, possession exercises & specific training matches. There were specific programmes for Ivan Cordoba, Thiago Motta and Raffaele Di Gennaro. Sulley Muntari, Felice Natalino and Nelson Rivas played with the group for part of the session.
The day was wound down with a series of stretching exercises & as a curtain call Samuel Eto’o challenged Paolo Orlandoni from the penalty spot and scored to the joy of the spectators, he then kicked the ball in to the crowd for one lucky fan as a present.
After signing some autographs, Eto’o went on to speak to Inter Channel.
“It went quite well, a bit warm but not as hot as Milan. I’m feeling good,” he added, “and here we have found a great atmosphere to start a season which won’t be easy. But we really want to give something back to all these people and thank them for their enthusiastic reception by winning. Me leaving Inter according to the press? I spoke to president Moratti after we won the Coppa Italia against Palermo and when the president speaks I say ‘yes’. We’re going ahead together.”. So the season is starting with good news that Eto’o is staying, hopefully now Sneijder will follow suit & help the mighty Nerazzurri be unstoppable again!
A completely sold-out Stadio Olimpico hosted two sides who had never met before in the final to determine the winner of the 63rd edition of the Coppa Italia. Eto’o gave Inter the lead with a cool finish in the 26th minute, following Sneijder’s perfectly weighted through ball. In the 76th minute, precisely the same combination sent the Nerazzurri fans wild with joy, as Inter placed a firm grasp on the cup. An eventful finale awaited, though, as Munoz pulled one back for Palermo on 88 minutes, before Milito stroked home two minutes into added time to seal the win. The Nerazzurri now have a seventh Coppa Italia to add to their trophy cabinet, and can count 15 trophies won in the last 7 years.
The president of the Italian Senate, Renato Schifani, handed over two trophies: the Coppa Italia to captain Zanetti and the cup to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Italian unification to Marco Materazzi.
Scorers: Eto’o 26 and 76, Munoz 88, Milito 90+2.
Booked: Acquah 27, Munoz 53 and 90, Carrozzieri 68.
Sent off: Munoz 90.
Added time: 1+5 minutes.
Unused subs: 12 Castellazzi, 14 Kharja, 23 Materazzi, 25 Samuel.
Unused subs: 99 Benussi, 4 Kasami, 11 Liverani, 36 Darmian.
Coach: Delio Rossi.
Inter will travel to the Stadio Olimpico on 29 May to contend the Coppa Italia final with Palermo. If Stankovic was the man who hit the winner in the first leg, this evening it was Eto’o who got the ultimately decisive goal. The 1-1 return-leg draw means the Nerazzurri reach the Coppa Italia final for the sixth time in seven seasons, on the night captain Zanetti made his 1000th career appearance.
The first half ended goalless despite several chances for both sides, Maicon and Pazzini for Inter and De Rossi and Borriello for the visitors. In the second half the Cameroon striker showed his class once more with a well-placed shot that sent the Meazza wild. Borriello headed in an equaliser for Roma with six minutes of normal time remaining but Inter held on to go through 2-1 on aggregate.
FIRST HALF –
Missing both Sneijder and Stankovic (scorer of the match-winning goal in the first leg at the Stadio Olimpico), Leonardo fielded Zanetti alongside Kharja and Eto’o in the attacking trio behind Pazzini. Cambiasso and Mariga provided the protection in front of the Nerazzurri defence, which had Lucio and Chivu in the centre flanked by Maicon and Nagatomo.
Tonight’s game at the Meazza was a special moment for Javier Zanetti as he made his 1000th professional appearance, joining an elite group – with just nine other footballers – to have reached such a milestone. Pupi wore an armband made just for the occasion, and before kick-off Inter technical director presented the skipper with a commemorative silver plate, to the thunderous applause of the whole stadium.
Inter started the game brightly and threatened early on through Maicon and then Pazzini, but Roma had the first real chance ten minutes in: Borriello made his way into a decent position before firing a venomous shot fractionally over. Two minutes later Eto’o had a pop at goal but he also failed to hit the target. Back down the other end, some neat interplay from the Giallorossi culminated in De Rossi curling wide, and the Roma captain tried his luck from range in the 19th minute, shooting mere inches wide of Julio Cesar’s right-hand upright. On 26 minutes, a floated ball from Mariga towards Pazzini in a central position proved just too high for the striker to get enough contact. Nagatomo then made an important interception in the 39th minute as Menez was bursting towards goal. A minute’s added time ended a fairly intense first half, played at pace and with several chances but little precision and no goals.
SECOND HALF –
Montella made a change during the interval and Greco came out in place of Pizarro. Six minutes after the restart the substitute whipped a dangerous free kick into the box that missed De Rossi’s head by a whisker and ended up in the arms of a grateful Julio Cesar. The deadlock was finally broken just before the hour mark, and it was a clinical finish from the ever-impressive Samuel Eto’o. Mariga started the move by chipping into the box, before the ball then found its way to Kharja on the right; his cross was knocked clear via Perrotta’s hand (which should have been a penalty to Inter), but only as far as the Cameroon striker, who took one touch to control the ball before slotting neatly through the legs of a defender and low into the far corner – his 34th goal of the season.
Inter had a great chance to go two up in the 66th minute, when Pazzini wriggled his way past Juan and Riise only to see Doni show great reflexes and push his effort wide. Two minutes passed and it was Julio Cesar who came to Inter’s rescue with a splendid save from Borriello. Having replaced Pazzini, Milito tried his luck in the 72nd minute: after striding into the box he did brilliantly to shake off his man but couldn’t get enough power on his shot and Doni blocked with his feet.
Roma’s best chance of the match came on 76 minutes, and it must be said that luck was not shining on them: Borriello fired past Julio Cesar and onto the near post, with the ball then ricocheting onto the opposite upright and out. Eto’o tried to put the game to bed with around ten minutes remaining, his curling right-footed effort flying just over. Two minutes later Cassetti caused problems for Julio Cesar but the keeper managed to gather the ball at the second attempt.
With six minutes to go, Roma drew level on the night through Borriello, who rose well at the far post to head in Perrotta’s cross. Inter suddenly found themselves hanging on, since another goal by the Giallorossi would have put them through on away goals, but as the game entered stoppage time it was the Nerazzurri who should have been given the chance to wrap things up from the spot: Juan clearly brought Milito down with a raised foot in an attempted sliding tackle, but the referee decided not to award a penalty.
After three minutes of stoppage time, and with a few frayed nerves on the pitch – ex-Inter player Burdisso in particular – the match ended 1-1. The Nerazzurri qualify for the final with a 2-1 aggregate score.
Inter 1-1 Roma (HT: 0-0; AGG: 2-1)
Scorers: Eto’o 58, Borriello 84.
Referee: Daniel Orsato (Schio).
Booked: Chivu 67, Maicon 87, Perrotta 89, Burdisso 90.
Added time: 1+3 minutes.
1 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 6 Lucio, 26 Chivu, 55 Nagatomo; 19 Cambiasso, 17 Mariga; 4 Zanetti, 14 Kharja (Motta 75), 9 Eto’o; 7 Pazzini (Milito 67).
Unused subs: 12 Castellazzi, 20 Obi, 23 Materazzi, 27 Pandev, 29 Coutinho.
Unused subs: 1 Lobont, 3 Castellini, 15 Loria, 87 Rosi.
Coach: Vincenzo Montella.
The end of the match was thrilling, but, as he explained, “it’s normal to suffer in the final moments of a semi-final. We’re pleased to have made it to the final against Palermo; it’s a well-deserved final after so much work.”
Talk inevitably turned to the Gattuso case: “I’m sorry to be involved in controversy. In my statement I asked two questions, but Gattuso hasn’t responded and I don’t believe the response I read from AC Milan deserves any comment. I prefer silence, everyone has their own style.”
The conversation then shifted back to the match against Roma and goal-hero Eto’o: “He’s an incredible player, universal, and he’s shown it throughout the season, not just tonight. His season has been truly exceptional, with 35 goals. He’s shown maximum commitment, as has the team. I’m satisfied; there have been months of sacrifice, and this season tops off a difficult but positive season.”
Finally, a nod to Massimo Moratti, who had spoken before the match of Leonardo as one of the certainties for Inter’s future: “I will always try to have a good relationship with president Moratti, like the clear one that exists. We made this choice together and I’ve never had any doubts, even in difficult times. In those times my relationship with Moratti has been even stronger and clearer. Of course it’s obvious that the relationship between a president and coach is always subject to passion and results. But I want to always have this great relationship with him that has been created.”
With a few words he brushed off the tension on the pitch sparked off by Nicolas Burdisso (“These things happen, now it’s all over.”) and the behavior of Gennaro Gattuso during the Scudetto celebrations (“Honestly, nothing surprises me.”), then Zanetti gave an opinion on Inter’s season: “It’s been quite positive; we started by winning the Italian Super Cup, continued by winning the Club World Cup, and now finishing with the Coppa Italia would really be beautiful.”
The skipper later spoke to Inter Channel: “A special game but also a difficult one. We really wanted to win it and I think we deserved to go through to play Palermo in the final. We were unable to wrap the tie up early, but we knew Roma would come back strong looking for goals. We defended well.”
Asked if he has memories of playing any bad games, Zanetti replied: “Yes, there have been lots, but the main thing is being able to reach this goal, which you can only do if you’re very, very consistent.”
“I’m trying to play the role of playmaker the best I can and I hope to be useful to the team, like tonight,” stated Houssine Kharja following Inter v Roma, a match that saw the Nerazzurri through to the final.
The Inter midfielder added: “I have tremendous regard for Leonardo. I have to thank him, because he has faith in me and helps me so much.”
“I was prepared. I knew that tonight I would have to play a match that was more defensive than usual, but we had trained for this.” Yuto Nagatomo spoke to Japanese reporters about his Coppa Italia semi-final match, which saw Inter advance to play Palermo on May 29th. The Rosanero will be there – not Milan. The Japanese full-back continued: “Honestly, I expected to face the Rossoneri. I was also hoping a little bit for a chance at revenge. However, now we’ll face Palermo and we’ll have to think only of that match. It will be my first final in Italy and to win it in my first year with this team would also be a source of great personal satisfaction for me. I’ll be able to finish out a season that I never expected would be at such a high level. But I play for Inter and the objective of this team is always to win.”
Finally, Nagatomo spoke of the milestone reached by Javier Zanetti this evening as he made his 1,000th appearance: “I have a special relationship with him. We room together and he always gives me valuable advice. He’s very important for me, but actually he’s very important for our entire team.”
That’s more like it, even though they weren’t at their very best yesterday Inter showed a lot more quality than the have for the last two games with a couple of players really standing out, the first was Zanetti who was playing on the right of the 3 man midfield, his speed, passes & runs were outstanding and watching him last night you would never guess he was 37. The other was Yuto Nagatomo who for me was the man of the match was just everywhere defending, poaching balls and making blistering runs up the left wing and also getting a few shots off on goal, I’ve said it before but this guy has got a really bright future and he reminds me alot of the legendary Roberto Carlos which is exactly the type of player Inter needs. As rumours have suggested this week I think Moratti has got some big changes in mind for next season as all the way through the match he looked less than impressed! But tonight’s result went the right way and that’s all that matters for now.
Inter beat Chievo 2-0 in the early kick-off of Serie A 2010/11 Week 32 this evening. The first half ended 0-0, despite Giampaolo Pazzini and Samuel Eto’o both going close. The Nerazzurri took the lead in the 65th minute thanks to Cambiasso, whose goalbound effort took a double deflection off Andreolli and Sorrentino before hitting the back of the net. Maicon made the points safe with 6 minutes of normal time remaining, when he neatly slotted home after picking up a rebound in the box. Inter thus go up to 63 points to put pressure on the leaders, awaiting the results of tomorrow’s games.
FIRST HALF –
Leonardo made a few changes to the team that started against Schalke: Lucio returned from suspension to partner Ranocchia at centre-half while Nagatomo started at left-back. The coach fielded a three-man midfield of Zanetti, Cambiasso and Stankovic, with Kharja getting the nod over Sneijder to play in the hole behind Pazzini and Eto’o.
Chievo made a lively start to the game and Inter had to wait until the 7th minute for their first shot on goal: Zanetti set up Eto’o, whose effort was blocked easily by Sorrentino. Shortly afterwards, Stankovic tried to play a long ball for Pazzini but the ball bounced away from the striker and ended up in Sorrentino’s arms. With just over a quarter of an hour played, Inter had two great chances to take the lead in quick succession: first Nagatomo, after being set away down the left flank by Pazzini, reached the by-line and pulled back for Eto’o, who failed to connect when he only needed the slightest of touches to turn it in. A minute later, Pazzini clipped his shot inches wide of the far post after being played in beautifully by Maicon. Chievo went close in the 28th minute when Bogliacino shot from the edge of the box, but Julio Cesar showed safe hands. Then on 34 minutes a dangerous cross-shot from Sardo looked as if it might trouble the Inter keeper, but the Brazilian managed to collect. Two minutes later Eto’o hit a ball into the centre looking for Pazzini, who couldn’t quite reach it. Another decent chance came Inter’s way with 38 minutes on the clock, and this time it was Eto’o’s turn to hit an effort just wide of the post. Chievo hit back on 41 minutes when Sardo picked out Pellissier’s head with a cross, but the striker’s effort went over.
And with half-time approaching, the Meazza crowd thought the Nerazzurri had taken the lead when Maicon’s rocket hit the side-netting and created the illusion of a goal, after Ranocchia and Pazzini had both seen shots blocked. So the deadlock remained and the teams headed in for the break after two minutes of stoppage time were played.
SECOND HALF –
Leonardo looked to shake things up at half-time and brought on Sneijder in place of Stankovic. Yokic’s 51st-minute cross was inviting for Pellissier, but he again failed to keep his header down. Three minutes later Pellissier had another chance, this time with his feet, Julio Cesar saving comfortably. In the 58th minute Sneijder picked out Nagatomo and the Japanese full-back tried to set up Pazzini, but Mandelli was covering. On the hour mark the Nerazzurri keeper had to be alert to clear with his fists as Mandelli tried to nod home a dangerous high ball yards from goal. And Maicon made an important interception on Constant shortly afterwards, as Chievo continued to threaten.
That, however, was the cue for Inter to score: Sneijder took a freekick out wide in the 65th minute, Lucio collected on the far side and laid back for Maicon to cross to the Argentinian, who was free in a crowded box. His shot took two deflections, off Andreolli and then Sorrentino, before nestling into the back of the net. Inter were 1-0 up. Pellissier had a fantastic opportunity to level the score in the 78th minute, following Yokic’s low cross, but he contrived to shoot skywards when the goal was much closer. A few minutes later Thiago Motta’s backheel allowed Milito to get a shot in, though he wasn’t able to trouble Sorrentino with it. The Chievo shotstopper then made another save, from Sneijder, while down the other end Uribe went close for the visitors, who hadn’t given up hope of snatching a point. Fortunately though, Inter were soon two goals to the good:
Maicon played a ball to Sneijder, whose shot from the edge of the box was half charged down and went to Milito, before finding its way back to Maicon in the middle of the area; the Brazilian kept his cool to turn and slot into the corner and give the Nerazzurri some breathing space. Milito could have made it three, first when he tried to curl an effort into the top corner (on 89 minutes), then when Yokic unintentionally set him up, but the Prince couldn’t get his header on target. In stoppage time Nagatomo had another chance, as he stormed into the box and shot left-footed, but he was denied by Sorrentino. After 5 minutes of added time, the match between Inter and Chievo finished 2-0.
Inter 2-0 Chievo (HT: 0-0)
Scorers: Cambiasso 65, Maicon 84.
Referee: Antonio Giannoccaro (Lecce).
Booked: Sardo 20.
Added time: 2 + 5 minutes.
1 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 6 Lucio, 15 Ranocchia, 55 Nagatomo; 4 Zanetti, 19 Cambiasso, 5 Stankovic (Sneijder 46); 14 Kharja; 7 Pazzini (Milito 61), 9 Eto’o (Motta 76).
Unused subs: 12 Castellazzi, 2 Cordoba, 23 Materazzi, 27 Pandev.
28 Sorrentino; 20 Sardo, 5 Mandelli, 3 Andreolli,17 Yokic; 6 Fernandes, 16 Rigoni, 23 Costant (Marcolini 68); 26 Bogliacino (Uribe 76); 80 Moscardelli (Thereau 55), 31 Pellissier.
Unused subs: 18 Squizzi, 4 Mantovani, 12 Cesar, 84 Pulzetti.
Coach: Stefano Pioli.
“We had our objectives before the two defeats and we still have them now; and more so after today’s game, which was difficult for many reasons – starting with how well Chievo played.” That was how Leonardo began as he commented on the win over Chievo.
The coach was asked if he had been afraid Inter wouldn’t win. He replied: “I always try to keep those thoughts as far away as possible. We have won lots of games at the end and we have made plenty of comebacks; we knew we had to keep plugging away until the end, patiently and intelligently, without losing our shape, and that’s what we did. The lads showed courage. The president and the club have handled a difficult situation very serenely. My affinity with the players? I think they just need to remain calm. Even if they don’t run over to hug me, I know what relationship we have. They don’t have to demonstrate anything publicly. Their prime concern is to be at ease, to come into the training ground feeling happy; not just to clock in and out. Our objectives are clear and they have never changed, and that goes for Europe too.
“What was I talking to Eto’o about on the touchline? About the best position to for him to break through their defence. Today our full-backs enabled us to make full use of the flanks and that benefited everyone. Is that a good sign going into the Champions League match? You must always concentrate on one game at a time, and until the final whistle went against Chievo we were thinking of nothing but this game, which we had to win. Now we can turn our attentions to the Champions League, with the same focus as we had today. Is it possible to come back? Inside I believe that anything is possible. I believe it and the players believe it too. Eto’o perhaps believes it more than anyone: he has plenty of comeback tales and he has played a part in lots of them. He told us all about them and they were great to hear,” concluded the coach, just as the Cameroonian appeared on camera.
With Leonardo listening in through an earpiece, Samuel Eto’o smiled as he spoke to Sky Sport Italia about great comebacks. He explained that “when I played for Barcelona and we lost 5-1 to Getafe, we turned it around with a 4-0 victory and went through…”
Then he returned to Inter: “It might seem difficult to believe at the moment,” said Eto’o, assessing the Nerazzurri’s chances of beating Schalke 04 over two legs, “but anything is possible in football. You can always dream. Inter have a team capable of going there and getting the result needed to reach the semis. The same goes for the league: there are still two months left to play.”
“In December this situation was really unthinkable, so we can’t lose our heads over two defeats.” Relating to Sky Sport Italia what Inter’s situation was last December, Esteban Cambiasso described the situation now after the victory against Chievo and before the upcoming challenge in Gelsenkirchen on Wednesday, with a comeback still to be engineered, and one in which all of the fans must still believe. Cambiasso explains why: “Because 45 years had passed without winning the Champions League, and this team did it.”
‘El Cuchu’ then continued to the microphones of Inter Channel: “Today we really needed some calm, after the two defeats and most of all for what had been created more outside than inside the club. Our fans have always believed in our possibilities. We did very well to move forward.”
“It was a tough game. We found it difficult because Chievo defended well and they were very well organised, but we got the win. It was a very important one too because the three points will boost morale and help us move forward.” Speaking to Inter Channel, Giampaolo Pazzini commented on Inter’s win this evening that keeps them in the running for the title.
“It wasn’t easy to get going again after two defeats,” the Nerazzurri striker continued. “There was a lot of pressure and we had to win because we still believe we can achieve the goals we set ourselves. We struggled a bit with the heat and with breaking down Chievo, but today the performance wasn’t so important; what was important was the three points.”
Giampaolo had an early chance but wasn’t able to stick it away: “I’m annoyed I didn’t score that one because normally I would have done better, but that’s ok. Esteban and Maicon settled it for us so that’s ok.”
On Nagatomo: “We’re happy for him. Today he showed what he’s capable of; let’s hope he keeps it up.”
Finally, the Champions League. Pazzini won’t be involved against Schalke 04 on Wednesday evening: “It’s really hard not being able to contribute myself but I have faith in my team-mates and in what they can do.”
“I wanted to do my bit and help the team win and that’s the spirit I went onto the pitch with. I succeeded and so I’m happy.” Yuto Nagatomo was speaking at the end of the Chievo match, in which he was one of the best players. “There are lots of very good players at Inter,” Nagatomo went on, “and I know that I can’t start every game, but I have to make sure I am always ready. Winning our Champions League tie? I think the result can be overturned and if we didn’t believe it there would be no point in even playing the game; but we do believe we can do it. Absolutely.”
Finally, a comment on the support received for Japan: “In Italy all the fans and players have offered their support for the Japanese people and I want to thank them for that.”
It’s good to see Inter back winning after a very bad week though the performance was no where near their best but Nagatomo has proved what an asset he could be for Inter, I think he should definitely be Inters first signing of the summer. Now on to the return leg against Shalke in which we need at least 4 goals, can we do it? Who knows but one things certain the Nerazzurri won’t give up without a fight and with Inter anything is possible!
First the gala dinner, then Andrea Bocelli’s performance on stage, and afterwards a series of auctions, hosted by Paolo Bonolis, of collectors’ items: from Usain Bolt’s shoes to the shirt worn by Eto’o in last season’s Champions League final and the one worn by Marco Materazzi at the 2006 World Cup, to the ball signed by all the Inter players, who were in attendance at the event held in Milan this evening.
“My foundation is my life,” explained Eto’o. “My continent, Africa, is different. It hasn’t had the same fortune as others. Unlike other kids I’ve been fortunate enough to become a footballer. Football has given me everything and I feel I have to do something to help others.”
After two years in Italy, the Cameroonian has realised it is the gateway to Europe from Africa. “I understand how desperate these people who emigrate are, and I must say thank you to Italy because it has held out its hands to help,” he continued. “And I know it is difficult, with the current economic crisis, to accept others who are seeking a better future.
Then, looking ahead to tomorrow’s Champions League draw in Nyon, Lucio declared that “We are the best team but we still have to keep working, as we did against Bayern Munich, fighting and believing in ourselves. After the draw we’ll start getting ready to face our opponents, but we can’t say it would be better or worse to end up with Real Madrid, Barcelona or any other side.”
Inter are through to the Champions league quarter finals on away goals after a 3-3 Agg win against Bayern Munich. All I can say about this match that ended 2-3 on the night, is what a game!!! Eto’o opened the scoring for Inter but by half time we were 2-1 down and it was looking like our title defense was in tatters, but Inter being Inter they picked themselves up and came out fighting, Sneijder scoring a low long range effort the Pandev secured the win with a late goal assisted by Eto’o. Inter thus qualify for the quarter-finals after completing a European comeback for the first time since 1993 – an impossible comeback, they said. But with Inter anything is possible.With this win we are one step closer to repeating the back to back European titles of the 60’s and maybe even an unprecidented back to back treble!
FIRST HALF –
Both sides took to the field with a black armband as a sign of respect towards the earthquake victims in Japan, and a huge banner was displayed (“We’re with you Japan”) during the minute’s silence at the beginning of the game.
Bayern’s response came in the form of a Ribery cross finding Gomez yards from goal on 10 minutes, but Ranocchia slid in to make the crucial block just as Gomez pulled the trigger. Inter were still blazing and launching attacks through Eto’o and Sneijder, as in the first leg, a mistake by Julio Cesar brought the Nerazzurri crashing back down to earth: Robben’s long-range blast was fumbled by the Inter keeper and up popped Mario Gomez – again! – to score by lobbing Julio Cesar with his back to goal and make it 1-1. The goal sparked Van Gaal’s side into life and just ten minutes later they had turned the score around: Robben played in a pass looking for Gomez, Thiago Motta got a touch on the ball on the edge of the box but it slipped away from him allowing Muller to run onto it and deftly chip over Julio Cesar: 2-1. In the 35th minute, Julio Cesar came to Inter’s rescue with a superb save from Ribery, pushing the ball just over the bar. On 39 minutes, following Thiago Motta’s freekick, Stankovic was presented with a great chance to equalise but he delayed a fraction too long and Kraft was onto it. A minute later and a quite miraculous goal-line clearance by Ranocchia kept Inter in the game: Ribery’s ball into the box was for Gomez, who slid in and beat Julio Cesar, but the ball bounced along the line for what seemed like an eternity before Ranocchia hacked clear – via Muller’s foot and then the post – into Julio Cesar’s hands. To an almighty sigh of relief from all Inter fans. They were holding their breaths again minutes later when Lucio got himself into a fix trying to clear under pressure from two opponents but the danger was eventually cleared and after one minute of stoppage time the two sides went in for the break.
Then, with more decisiveness, the “Lion King” fed Sneijder, whose magnificent right-footed shot beat Kraft to bring the score to 2-2. Hopes were further reignited when Pandev nearly put Inter ahead in the 67th minute as he chest-trapped Sneijder’s long pass, but the ensuing shot on the turn sailed just over the crossbar. Sneijder came close on 80 minutes after a pass from Eto’o, but his powerful right-footer from outside the box was saved.
Hope never died and in the 88th minute Pandev sent the Nerazzurri fans around the world into rapture by connecting with a pass from Eto’o and blasting the ball into the top corner with a left-footed strike. The Macedonian triggered a Nerazzurri explosion of joy inside the Allianz Arena with his goal that sent Inter to the quarter-finals and closed the game with a 2-3 score line. Only once in the history of the Champions League had a team overcome a first-leg loss at home.
“Explaining this match tonight is going to be very difficult,” continued the Nerazzurri coach. “We won and it was a victory with all of our hearts. A very well-organized match: we found the back of the net after three minutes, but various incidents led to a lot of problems in which everything went Bayern’s way. We lost our equilibrium, we tried to take control of the game again, then we let in another goal. We settled down and then, as I said, it was all heart. And Pandev, what can I say? I’m thrilled for him because he’s been going through a difficult period.”
“It was a strange game. It had moments that were completely different from one to the next, first manageable, then dangerous. In the second half we controlled the game well once again and then, when the team felt sure of themselves again, they sealed the win. Julio Cesar? When a goalkeeper makes an error like that it’s an accident. You can’t ever judge him because he then goes on to make incredible saves, just as he did tonight. Pandev wasn’t in the game tonight, but the god of football is strange… Good for him, though, because otherwise it would have been a disaster [smiling]. The team has personality, character and is very united; even when things go wrong this team knows how to turn it around. In the quarters we’ll get Barcelona – again [smiling]. Does Leonardo deserve a ten for this game? I think so, also because during the game it was truly tough from a psychological standpoint and he was fantastic.”
Speaking to Sky Sport Italia, Julio Cesar analysed the game and his mistake on Bayern’s first goal: “That was a terrible moment. When I let that in I just wanted to disappear immediately, go back to Milan – on foot, on horseback, whatever – but then I pulled myself together. The goal was like a cold shower, but thanks to my team-mates we got back into it. I really must congratulate them. Still, you learn from your mistakes. I messed up tonight, more than in the first leg for sure, but fortunately we’re here now talking about our victory. Afterwards I rolled my sleeves up and got on with it. Which save was the most difficult? Maybe the one from Ribery. What did I do when Pandev scored? I started to cry, I thanked God and my team-mates. I would have been in a really bad way if we’d lost, but these are things that help you become more mature. Let’s hope that’s the end of the mistakes now.”
“We knew that it would be a tough match, but we believed it was possible and we did it. We believe in our game because we have strength and determination inside us. The teams in the quarter-finals? All of the teams that make it there are strong. Now we’re thinking of the Serie A. And I’ll say one thing: Italians should be happy tonight, because an Italian team in the quarter-finals is important for Italian football as a whole.”
Tonight’s game against Bayern Munich also included a protagonist’s role for Cristian Chivu, who gave his comments to Inter Channel on the victory that won the team a place in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League: “It was a good game, we suffered a bit, but we played as Inter should. We were aware of what we were going to face and how we could do it. We did it in the best possible way and now we can be happy and celebrate because this was the only thing we wanted.”
“It turned out all right in the end and I’m happy I was able to save that goal. I felt some incredible emotions out there tonight: to come here and turn the tie around, especially after going behind on the night as well, wasn’t easy. But we put a lot of heart into it and managed to pull it off. If we keep working like this, we have a great chance of doing well, in every competition.”