Olé José. Julio Cruz’s likely destined to leave a big “ass mark” on the subs bench this season, but Inter Milan are “cruising” nonetheless. Carried forth by the genius of Ibrahimovic, the timely finish of Amantino Mancini, and a new-found Adriano (ok, he only played for 10 minutes… but that’s stil good right?), the Nerazzurri travelled to Greece and got rid of their Panathinaikos rivals with a convincing performance.
So, bring out the old cliché phrases. You know, Veni, vidi, vici, or that very special Wham Bam! Thank you ma’am that FSC report journalist likes to say. And so on and so forth…
(From Gazzetta): Surprising as it may seem, the start of the match was not easy for Inter. Cambiasso was surrounded in midfield, Mancini undergoing some rough treatment (“illegal intimidatory blows”, as Gazzetta calls them), while the entire backline looked like a wall about to crumble. But it was only a small, fairly painless ripple in the atmosphere at the Olympic stadium of Athens, completely covered in green.
Before Mancini’s goal in the 27th, Inter had managed build three good scoring opportunities. First, Ibrahimovic‘s indecision wasted a good Vieira through ball, then a near-”trivela” and a long-range rocket (also from Zlatan) forced Pana’s goalkeeper to showcase his pouncing abilities. On the fourth opportunity however the Nerazzurri broke through, thanks once again (would you have doubted it) to Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The magnificent Swede put up a display of concentrate of technique, agility and power. On the run and eluding his three man-marking defenders, Inter’s nº8 served the ball on a platter to Mancini, who then just had to apply the finish. 1-0 Inter.
On the other end, Julio Cesar kept busy with two saves on Bryce Moon, surprising & dangerous with his long-range blasts (one deflected onto the crossbar) and penetration power (his 1-2 pass with Gilberto Silva was ruined by a poor touch in front of goal). Risky business for Inter, which highlighted the faults in the current Nerazzurri defence (conceding at least one goal per game since their Supercoppa match). From midfield up however Inter was impressive. Scary and impressive, especially with Ibrahimovic and Mancini combining so easily with one another it looked they were playing together for years.
If ref Mejuto Gonzalez had used the same cautioning criteria as in the first half (Matrix getting carded on his first foul on Salpingidis), Cleyton wouldn’t have had time to rip out a left-footed curl (inches wide) from just outside the box that nearly sent the stadium into rapture. A Panathinaikos opportunity synonymous with Inter’s late-match troubles, as shown by Julio Cesar’s saves on Gilberto Silva (free-kick) Lazaros Christodoulopoulos (long-range drive).
At this point, Mourinho decided to tighten the offensive screws by replacing Vieira & Quaresma with Muntari & Figo, as well as by leaving target-man Zlatan on the field. A good move, because the pass for Adriano‘s 2-0 tally came just from the Swedish striker. The embrace between Zlatan and the re-born Brazilian had high symbolic value, especially because of its timing: one year after Inter’s loss to Fenerbahce (during the Mancini-era). In European context, the new José-directed Internazionale could not have had a better inauguration night.
|GOALSCORERS: 27’ Mancini (I), 85’ Adriano (I).
| PANATHINAIKOS (4-2-3-1): Galinovic – Vintra, Simão M.J., Goumas, Nillson (73’ Hristodoupoulos) – Mattos, Gilberto Silva – Moon (82’ Souza), Cleyton, Karagounis (36′ Ivanschitz) – Salpingidis. (bench: Tzorvas, Sarriegi, Tziolis, Spyropoulos). Coach: Ten Cate.
| INTER (4-3-3): Julio Cesar – Maicon, Córdoba, Materazzi, Maxwell – Vieira (63’ Muntari), Cambiasso, J.Zanetti – Quaresma (62’ Figo), Ibrahimovic, Mancini (81’ Adriano). (bench: Toldo, Santon, Cruz, Balotelli). Coach: Mourinho.