Serie A - Inter shade unlucky Udinese

Eurosport - Sat, 11 Sep 18:59:00 2010

Goals from Samuel Eto'o and Lucio gave Rafael Benitez's Internazionale their first win of the season, 2-1 at home to Udinese in Serie A.

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Defender Lucio (pictured) opened the scoring before Antonio Floro Flores levelled in an entertaining and open first half at the Giuseppe Meazza.

Little changed in the second period, with both sides creating a bagful of chances before Eto’o equalised from the rebound after Samir Handanovic saved his spot kick.

Inter looked the brighter at the start and took a seventh-minute lead, which was deserved but came in fortuitous circumstances.

McDonald Mariga won a corner when his low drive took a slight deflection wide and - from Wesley Sneijder’s subsequent delivery - Udinese’s Slovenian keeper Handanovic flapped atrociously and palmed the ball to Lucio, who thrashed the finish home.

But Udinese are an exciting attacking prospect: two defeats in two matches this season have not reflected their contribution, as they were extremely unlucky to lose the opener at home to Genoa after dominating that match.

Unperturbed by conceding they immediately pushed forward and, within two minutes, missed a glorious chance to level as last season’s Serie A top scorer Antonio Di Natale kicked air when handed a simple finish by Alexis Sanchez.

The sides continued to trade attacks, with Sneijder denied by a last-gasp Cristian Zapata block and, for Udinese, Sanchez smashing an inventive volley just wide from a difficult angle.

All that action came in the first 18 minutes, which was followed by a natural lull until the visitors levelled.

A short-corner routine on the right saw Di Natale combine with Sanchez, with the former putting a superb cross on to the head of Floro Flores, who evaded Esteban Cambiasso and Walter Samuel to power his finish into the bottom right.

Inter were provoked into action as, within 90 seconds of the equaliser, the Nerazzurri twice went agonisingly close, first when Handanovic denied Diego Milito with a super one-handed save and immediately afterwards when a free Samuel somehow headed Sneijder’s corner wide.

Milito and Sanchez should have done better for either side before the break but 1-1 was the score at the end of an entertaining and open first 45 minutes.

There was no let up in the second half as the frantic pace and open play continued.

Julio Cesar had to be at his alert best when rushing out of his box after Sanchez sent Di Natale clean through, while Floro Flores finished just wide after more excellent play from Sanchez.

Inter had a sighter when superb dribbling from Sneijder laid up a great chance for Mariga, but the Kenya midfielder fired straight at Handanovic.

After a difficult start to the second half, the hosts were growing into the game, with Sneijder’s hesitance after being put through by Milito another wasted opportunity just after the hour mark.

They were then handed a brilliant opportunity which Eto’o initially spurned, his penalty saved by Handanovic after substitute Gabriele Angella handled Sneijder’s cross, but the Cameroonian was able to tuck home the rebound to give the hosts a 67th-minute lead.

Soon afterwards the visitors had a good shout for a penalty waved away in a bizarre incident where Ivan Cordoba impeded Di Natale after going down in his own box.

Referee Christian Brighi ruled Cordoba’s fall to have arisen from a foul but he appeared to slip on a plastic bag that had made its way on to the pitch: Di Natale was booked for his protests.

Udinese were fired up and went close twice in succession, Angella’s flicked header from a corner just evading Kwadwo Asamoah’s lunge at the far post, while sub Bernardo Corradi was agonisingly close to finishing Di Natale’s cross.

Inter could have added a third too, Milito firing just wide with his left and Eto’o rattling the inside of the post with a ferocious shot from 20 yards.

Brighi inexplicably added six minutes of stoppage time: substitutions aside the only delay was a brief tending to Lucio when he was struck in the face by a free-kick, while neither side indulged in time wasting.

But there were no more goals as Inter moved top of Serie A for Saturday night at least, with city rivals Milan unable to go top after losing at promoted Cesena

Reda Maher / Eurosport

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