Shame for Inter. The New Year hadn’t started in the best of ways (2-2 draw against Ajax in the Semi-finals, qualification only grabbed after penalty kicks), and it isn’t getting better. At the end of a tight contest, the Nerazzurri have lost the Dubai Cup final match to an energetic Internacional de Porto Alegre. The goals of Fernandão and Nilmar (the last one quite spectacular in execution) overcame the lone goal of Luis Jiménez, and will force Inter coach Roberto Mancini to get back to his Serie A duties without another snazzy trophy and, more importantly, without the €1m in prize money.
Of course, this was only a friendly tournament so Nerazzurri fans don’t need to be at all worried. Yet.
Compared to the semi-final match, Mancini decided to field a completely different team: 11 new players, including 18-year old and U-21 midfielder Francesco Bolzoni. With Júlio César in goal, Maicon-Córdoba-Materazzi-Fatic to take care of the defensive work, and Javier Zanetti and Cesar supporting in midfield, goalscoring duties were left to Zlatan and Crespo, with Jiménez operating as the playmaking nº10.
Unfortunately for the Nerazzurri, the start of the match wasn’t what Mancini was hoping for. The Porto Alegre goal took only 2 minutes to arrive, when Fernandão grabbed the ball on the edge of the box, and slammed a volleyed shot that surprised the Inter keeper. 1-0 Internacional.
The ensuing 25 minutes were quite hard to endure for the Inter players, tucked back into their own half and suffering the great vivacity of the Brazilians. Eventually though, they stuck their heads out of the hole, and fought back. Ibrahimovic came close to a ripper goal in the 32th, had his howitzer free-kick been slightly more angled.
8 minutes later however, Inter were level in a somewhat lucky/opportunistic fashion. Exploiting a Zlatan cross from the left wing, Luis Jiménez first attempted the left-footed scissor kick, and missed. The ball looped into a spin above the Chilean midfielder however, allowing him to hit it a second time with his right foot (while lying on the ground). Goal, and game tied 1-1 at the break.
The intensity of the match dropped in the 2nd half, with the players getting lazier almost and committing more fouls than necessary. In that perspective, it seemed as if the Brazilian team wanted the win more than their Inter cousins (€1m are always a good incentive). In minute 65, a looping pass by Porto Alegre found Marcão for the flick, setting up Nilmar for a perfect overhead effort, on which Júlio César could do very little. 2-1 Internacional.
In the final minutes, Mancini’s imagination ran wild as he tried to swing the balance back to Inter’s favor: on Balotelli for Ibrahimovic, push Materazzi (!!) forward as a 3rd striker. Audacious and inventive, but it didn’t work. 2-1 Porto Alegre the final score, and no extra cash for Inter boss Massimo Moratti. Not like he needs it anyway…
|GOALSCORERS: 2’ Fernandão (PA), 40’ Jiménez (I), 66’ Nilmar (PA)|
|INTER (4-3-1-2): Júlio César – Maicon, Córdoba, Materazzi, Fatic (71’ Burdisso) – Bolzoni (67’ Pelé), J.Zanetti, Cesar – Jiménez – Ibrahimovic (74’ Balotelli), Crespo. (bench: Orlandoni, Chivu, Maxwell, Rivas, Cambiasso, Pedrelli, Siligardi, Cruz). Coach: Mancini.|
|INTERNACIONAL PORTO ALEGRE (3-4-1-2): Renan – Orozco, Sidnei, Wellington Monteiro (46’ Jonas) – Marcão, Guinazu, Magrão (37′ s.t. Danny Morais), Maycon – Alex (26′ s.t. Motta) – Fernandão, Nilmar (45′ s.t. Iarley). (bench: Clemer, Indio, Tití, Roger, Gil, Guto, A.Ferreira). Coach: Braga.|