adriano sends inter clear of the pack published: thursday 23 october 2008, 0.56cet
fc internazionale milano 1-0 anorthosis famagusta fc
adriano's header right on half-time moved a dominant inter three points clear at the group b summit as anorthosis slipped to their first defeat.
by richard aikman from san siro
fc internazionale milano went three points clear at the group b summit after overcoming anorthosis famagusta fc thanks to adriano's second uefa champions league goal of the campaign.
decisive header adriano had scored a timely goal to seal inter's 2-0 opening-night triumph against panathinaikos fc and repeated the feat against a determined anorthosis side. just when it seemed the cypriot outfit had managed to weather the first-half storm, adriano struck, his header proving enough to earn a narrow win as the nerazzurri's class told.
sweeping move josé mourinho had urged his team to avoid complacency against one of the competition's dark horses this season, and heeding those words the hosts immediately sought to assert their authority. they could have gone ahead as early as the fourth minute when maicon nodded over after goalkeeper arian beqaj had flapped at a dejan stanković corner, and the latter flashed a low effort just wide from range soon after. the inter threat was much broader, however, and on ten minutes a sweeping move down the right worked space for a maicon cross that neatly controlled by mancini, who teed up sulley muntari for a shot which beqaj saved superbly.
breakthrough anorthosis did give francesco toldo an early taste of the action when he was forced to repel traianos dellas's fierce free-kick, but most of the play was at the other end. stanković, esteban cambiasso and adriano were weaving neat patterns with swift, one-touch football; adriano almost capped the deft approach work with a goal when his thumping strike swerved just wide. it was a rare chance, yet just as temuri ketsbaia's well-drilled defence looked to have reached half-time unbreached they fell behind. zlatan ibrahimović switched the play to the left flank with a sweeping pass to maicon, who brought the ball down and sent over a measured in-swinger for adriano to rise and head in from five metres.
katsavakis chance it was a big setback for the visitors, yet they almost had the perfect riposte a minute after the restart; however, the stretching, unmarked nicos katsavakis could not direct jeffrey leiwakabessy's curling free-kick on target. inter retaliated in kind. muntari sent mancini's centre high and wide, although the italian titleholders lacked the rhythm of the first half, their passes now going astray. shots too: ibrahimović should have doubled the advantage when adriano sent him clear on 68 minutes but he poked his effort wide.
points secure anorthosis were still in the match but struggled to escape the confines of their own half. sávio instigated one rare sortie which siniša dobrašinović wasted, dithering too long and inviting the block, while vincent laban's attempted lob from 40 metres was ambitious at best. the more likely threat came from set-pieces and toldo had to be alert to reach sávio's cross ahead of lukasz sosin with ten minutes left. an equaliser would have been harsh on inter, even if they did fail to sparkle. ibrahimović saw another shot saved late on, while quaresma miscontrolled with the goal gaping. victory was already theirs, however.