01 April 2010

Champions League - Mourinho's Inter beat CSKA

Jose Mourinho's Internazionale take a slender 1-0 advantage into their Champions League quarter-final return leg at CSKA Moscow thanks to a Diego Milito strike.

The Argentine's low driven shot on the hour mark proved the only reward for Inter's dominance at the Giuseppe Meazza in Milan.
Mourinho's men were the better outfit throughout, only the form of CSKA keeper Igor Akinfeev and a stunning goalline clearance by Sergei Ignashevich keeping the margin of defeat down to one.
A cagey opening 45 minutes saw Inter enjoy the majority of possession, with the one chance of note falling to the stand-out player from the Serie A side's victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge - Wesley Sneijder.
Having combined well with Goran Pandev and Milito, the Dutch midfielder found space behind the CSKA defence but could only snatch at his shot, Akinfeev watching the ball drift harmlessly wide.
Sneijder, disappointing in the first half, was on the receiving end of a number of strong challenges from CSKA's midfield which saw him attended to by the physio.
The well-marshalled visiting defence reduced Inter to shooting from distance, the Italian champions struggling to test Akinfeev.

The second half started much the same, with Inter dominating possession and CSKA looking to play on the counter.
Just before the hour mark, a top Inter passing move saw Esteban Cambiasso slip a ball through to Dejan Stankovic, but he could not get the ball out from under his feet and hit a weak shot straight at the keeper.
In the frantic moments that followed Akinfeev made a fabulous pair of saves. First the Russian keeper got a strong hand to Pandev's drive from 16 yards, then seconds later he smothered Samuel Eto'o's near-post effort after the striker feinted his way past three defenders.
However, Akinfeev could do nothing about Inter's opening goal. Sneijder drove forward and played a ball to Milito, who shifted it out of his feet and drilled a well-placed shot into the bottom left of the CSKA goal from just outside the area.
Minutes later Pandev thought he had made it two when he skipped past Akinfeev and watched his shot head for goal; however Ignashevich flew back to perform an implausible goalline clearance with his knee.
In the last 15 minutes Akinfeev again kept CSKA in the tie, finding a string of reaction saves as Inter peppered his goal with shots.

CSKA had two half-chances to equalise but could not find a way to test Julio Cesar in the Inter goal: first Walter Samuel cleared after a corner bounced dangerously inside the box then Cesar did well to gather after Tomas Necid sprung the offside trap.
CSKA will be happy enough with a 1-0 loss from a game dominated by Inter from start to finish, while Mourinho now faces a difficult task on the artificial surface in Moscow.
Jamie Nazareth / Eurosport

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