Ibrahimovic Rescues A Point For Inter Against Cagliari

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    RefreSh
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    Ibrahimovic Rescues A Point For Inter Against Cagliari

    Post by RefreSh on Sun Jan 11, 2009 5:35 am

    Late goals by Robert Acquafresca and Zlatan Ibrahimovic sealed a 1-1 draw between Inter and Cagliari at San Siro tonight as the Nerazzurri saw their winning streak come to an end in an exciting match.

    Inter 1-1 Cagliari

    Inter looked for their ninth consecutive victory in Serie A as they hosted Cagliari at San Siro in their first match of 2009. With Maicon out suspended, Dejan Stankovic injured, and Adriano and Mario Balotelli left at home, coach Jose Mourinho had to come up with some slight changes to his side. Captain Javier Zanetti returned to his old right-back spot to replace Maicon, while up front Luis Figo played behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Julio Cruz in a 4-3-1-2 system.

    Cagliari, meanwhile, also played with a 4-3-1-2 system with Andrea Cossu behind Jeda and Inter youth product Robert Acquafresca in attack.

    First Half

    Cagliari showed no fear of their illustrious opponents in the opening exchanges as they managed to contain the Nerazzurri well.

    The first chance came in the 5th minute for Inter left-back Maxwell, who made a nice run in midfield and fired a good shot from just outside the area that was nevertheless grabbed quite easily by goalkeeper Federico Marchetti (5’).

    A minute later, there was a slick counter-attack started by Zanetti, who won the ball at the back and launched the ball forward to Ibrahimovic, who dribbled forward and played the ball to Christian Chivu, but his shot sailed way over the bar.

    In the 13th minute, Cagliari defender Davide Astori gave the ball away to Cruz, and it almost proved a crucial mistake as the Argentine then played it to the unmarked Ibrahimovic, who wasted a good chance by firing straight at the keeper from just inside the area.

    The next minute, the visitors had their first sight of goal as midfielder Davide Biondini tried a volley from inside the area, which only found its way to the side netting.

    The best chance of the first half fell to Cruz in the 25th minute, when Figo sent in a free-kick that found the Argentine unmarked and onside, but the 34-year-old headed the ball just wide of the post.

    A similar chance fell three minutes later to defender Walter Samuel, who by this time was wearing a bandage after cutting his eyebrow, as he tried to slide the ball in from close range on a free-kick by Esteban Cambiasso, but he failed to hit the target.

    After a quieter period of the match, there was a sudden series of chances for Inter, and one for Cagliari too, in the final minutes of the first half. In the 41st minute, Zanetti made one of his typical runs and took a shot on goal from the edge of the area, which was punched away by Marchetti even though it was probably going wide. A minute later, the Inter captain again fired a great shot from distance which would have gone in if Cagliari’s keeper hadn’t punched it away.

    On the counter-attack following that move, Cagliari made themselves very dangerous as the ball was crossed in from the right and Acquafresca tried an overhead kick, but Ivan Cordoba was alert and deflected the ball away.

    The first half ended on a 0-0 score, which is probably less than Inter deserved at that point after creating at least four clear-cut chances to score.

    Second Half

    During half-time Mourinho made a surprising change, bringing on winger Ricardo Quaresma, recently voted the transfer flop of the season by S-Sport.tk readers, for defender Ivan Cordoba, which meant Christian Chivu moved into the centre-back position after playing the first half in midfield.

    The Portuguese nearly silenced his critics in the 51st minute, when he fired a decent shot from outside the area after receiving the ball on the left by Cruz, which went a couple of metres wide of the target.

    Ibrahimovic missed a great chance three minutes later, when Figo played an astute pass inside the area for Zanetti, who sent in a perfect low cross for the Swede, who could not get his shot on target under pressure from a defender.

    The tall striker missed another gilt-edged opportunity in the 57th minute, as Maxwell sent in a cross from the left that found him in an excellent position to head the ball, but once again it went wide of the post.

    Out of nothing, Cagliari managed to take a shock lead in the 65th minute, when Michele Fini played the ball forward and Robert Acquafresca took advantage from Samuel’s slip, beating Julio Cesar with a powerful low shot from inside the area.

    This sudden goal initially shocked Inter, and Cagliari wasted a great opportunity to kill off the match soon after as Biondini received the ball inside the area from Jeda and tried to place the ball in the top corner, but it went inches wide of the target in the 72nd minute.

    The home side got their act together again after a few minutes, and Quaresma continued to have a positive impact on the match as he took a low shot on goal in the 75th minute that forced a good save from Marchetti.

    A minute later, Inter managed to equalise thanks to a fine move from substitute Hernan Crespo, who dribbled his way past two defenders and sent in a cross towards the far post, which eluded Cagliari’s defence, allowing Ibrahimovic to slot the ball in from close range.

    Cagliari did not let their heads drop after this setback, as they continued to come forward and create chances. In the 79th minute it was Cossu who missed a golden chance, as he fired a tame shot from an excellent position inside the area that was easily grabbed by Julio Cesar.

    However, that was nothing compared to the chance Acquafresca missed in the 83rd minute. Cossu fired a great curling shot from a difficult position, that forced a great save from Julio Cesar, and the ball fell to the Inter youth product who was all alone in front of goal, but somehow he failed to get the right touch on it and once again it went wide.

    It was a rollercoaster ride of a match at this point, and at the other end the home side came close to getting a winner in the 86th minute, when Sulley Muntari fired the ball against the post from close range after a nice one-two with Cruz inside the area.

    In injury time, Inter managed to get the ball in the net as Ibrahimovic headed the ball to substitute Amantino Mancini on a free-kick, and the Brazilian poked the ball into the net, but the goal was cancelled for offside.

    That was the last chance of the match, and Inter had to make do with a share of the spoils at the San Siro tonight after eight consecutive victories. They remain on top of the table with 43 points, but may see their lead cut to four points if Juventus beat Siena tomorrow. Cagliari, meanwhile, are in 13th place with 22 points.



    Teams

    Inter (4-3-1-2): Julio Cesar; Zanetti, Cordoba (46’ Quaresma), Samuel (68’ Crespo), Maxwell; Muntari, Cambiasso, Chivu; Figo (68’ Mancini); Ibrahimovic, Cruz. Coach: Mourinho.

    Cagliari (4-3-1-2): Marchetti; Pisano, Canini, Astori, Agostini; Fini (81’ Lazzari), Conti, Biondini (92’ Parola); Cossu; Acquafresca (84’ Matri), Jeda. Coach: Allegri.

    Goals: 65’ Acquafresca (C), 76’ Ibrahimovic (I)

    Booked: Muntari (I)[u]

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