Genoa 0-2 Inter Milan: Zlatan & TurboMario Launch Nerazzurri Towards Old Trafford (Serie A Matchday 27)

Inter Milan forward Mario Balotelli, second from right in background, celebrates with his teammates Inter Milan Brazilian defender Maicon, left, Davide Santon, back to camera n. 39, and Colombian defender Ivan Cordoba after scoring, during the Serie A soccer match between Genoa and Inter Milan at the Ferraris stadium in Genoa, Italy, Saturday, March 7, 2009.  (AP Photo)

After the mid-week disaster against the first of the Genoan teams, Mourinho’s Inter Milan picked things up against the second Saturday, defeating Genoa 2-0 and consolidating their lead atop Serie A standings.

It was a welcome win too for the Nerazzurri, who after their 3-3 draw to Roma and 3-0 loss to Sampdoria can now prepare their visit to Old Trafford with more tranquillity (injuries of Materazzi & Burdisso excepted). Of course, no Inter win this year would be complete without the traditional controversy, and Saturday’s encounter didn’t fail to provide one. Indeed, serious doubts remain on the validity of Balotelli’s 2-0 tally: fully over the line or not?

Serie A 2008-09 - Genoa vs. Inter Milan

Serie A 2008-09 - Day 27 - Genoa 0-2 Inter

Compared to pre-match expectations, José surprised many with his starting eleven formation: no Córdoba, no Muntari, no Adriano. Instead, Burdisso, Balotelli, and Figo with the Portuguese veteran acting playmaker behind Zlatan-TurboMario. On the other end, Gasperini’s (praised this week by Mourinho as “one of the greats”) Rossoblu fielded their usua 3-4-3 formation (later modified to a 4-3-3), with one change: Jankovic instead of Mesto.

Genoa's Ivan Juric (L) and Giuseppe Biava (R) challenge Inter Milan's Mario Balotelli during their Serie A soccer match at the Ferraris stadium in Genoa March 7, 2009.  (REUTERS)

Genoa’s eagerness was obvious from the beginning of the match, and after only half a minute of play the home team delighted their fans with the first scoring opportunity: a diagonal shot by Thiago Motta that missed the goal by mere inches. It was the perfect opening present for Inter, just to make them understand Marassi (just like it had been mid-week) is not welcoming territory. The Nerazzurri’s own mental approach was exemplary however, because not even a minute later Zlatan Ibrahimovic, assisted by Stankovic, delighted his fans with a cheeky chipped effort that overtook an inattentive Rubinho and found its way into the net. 1-0 Inter.

The goal could have brought Genoa’s offensive intentions straight to a halt, but instead Gasperini’s side picked up the pieces and resumed attacking, right after the new kick-off: Milito was chasing after every ball in offense, Sculli and Jankovic multiplying their efforts in offense. The Genoan attacking trio wasn’t having a great night with their shooting attempts however, Inter’s patched-up defence controlling & limiting their space, also aided by the fact Mourinho’s side monopolized ball possession and dominated in midfield.

Inter Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic (R) celebrates after scoring, as Genoa's Giuseppe Biava looks at the ball in the net, during their Serie A soccer match at the Ferraris stadium in Genoa March 7, 2009. (REUTERS)

And when bad luck started to rear its ugly head (Materazzi & Burdisso successively leaving the field to injuries, replaced by Cordoba & Muntari), that’s when stepped up Nerazzurri super-hero Julio Cesar. What the Brazilian keeper did in the 21st minute was not of this world, deflecting Thiago Motta’s header with his right hand in true miracle fashion, and then later repeating himself on Biava and then on Milito. Wonder stuff, as Cambiasso retreated back to a center-back role (filling in for Burdisso) to lead his team to a 1-0 HT advantage.

From the beginning of the second half Genoa went on a desperate goal hunt, but Inter were sly and slowed down the pace, closing space & taking advantage of their counterattacking efficiency (as per Mourinho’s lessons). Genoa were working overtime, multiplying their pressure but still failing to overtake the Nerazzurri’s defence, eventually forcing Gasperini to replace Jankovic with Palladino, in a desperate attempt to give his strike force more weight.

Marco Rossi's goal-line clearance against Inter Milan

In the end though, displaying their lethal cynicism, Inter were the ones to topple their opponents’ defence: Mario Balotelli broke through into the box, eluded the keeper’s intervention and sent a slow shot towards the net. Marco Rossi rushed towards the ball to clear it, made a mess of it and eventually seem to deflect it on the goal line. Goal? No goal? Judge for yourselves, but it was still 2-0 Inter.

Olivera’s substitution with Sculli came too late, and (save for a few last-minute attempts by Biava narrowly wide) also marked Genoa’s involution under Inter’s implacabale superpowers. Mourinho could rejoice on the umpteenth victory of his armored infantry: three critical points towards the Scudetto race, and a huge morale booster vs. Manchester. Old Trafford here we come.

Inter Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic kneels on the field during their Serie A soccer match against Genoa at the Ferraris stadium in Genoa March 7, 2009. (REUTERS)


 Genoa C.F.C.
[Match Highlights]
F.C. Internazionale Milano
GOALSCORERS: 2’ Ibrahimovic (I), 61’ Balotelli (I).
GENOA (4-3-3): Rubinho – Biava, Ferrari, Bocchetti (72’ Mesto) – M.Rossi, Thiago Motta, Juric, Criscito – Sculli (66’ Olivera), D.Milito, Jankovic (56’ Palladino). (bench: Scarpi, Papastathopoulos, Modesto, Milanetto). Coach: Gasperini.
INTER (4-2-3-1): Julio Cesar – Maicon, Burdisso (31′ Muntari), Materazzi (16′ Córdoba), Santon – J.Zanetti, Cambiasso – Figo (72’ Mancini), Stankovic, Balotelli – Ibrahimovic (bench: Toldo, Jimenez, Crespo, Adriano). Coach. Mourinho.


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Posted in Genoa, Inter, Serie A |

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