Inter 2-1 Lazio: Eto'o and Sneijder strikes complete comeback in a pulsating clash
Zarate's early penalty had given the visitors the lead but Sneijder's sumptuous free-kick and Eto'o goalscoring instincts helped the Nerazzurri to all three points
By Patrick Devaney
Inter had to come from behind to see off a spirited Lazio side at the San Siro to claim a 2-1 victory. A sparkling performance from Mauro Zarate was not enough for the Biancocelesti as they fell to a wonderful set-piece from Wesley Sneijder and some shocking defending allowed Samuel Eto'o to seal the win with an early second half strike.
The match began brightly as the vivacious Zarate sought an early goal at the San Siro. The Lazio forward dribbled past two defenders but Julio Cesar was equal to his powerful shot as the Argentine fired an early warning sign to the hosts. Just a minute later Eto’o had a shot which curled tantalisinginly close to the top right corner as his partnership with Diego Milito looked promising early on.
The opening goal arrived in favour of the Romans after 24 minutes of play. Zarate raced onto a well measured though ball but Cesar’s rash tackle on the former Birmingham striker earned himself a red card. Milito was sacrificed when substitute goalkeeper Luca Castellazzi came on to try and save the penalty. As the ‘keeper dived despairingly to his right, Zarate simply rolled the penalty centrally in to give the Biancocelesti a 24th minute lead.
As Zarate continued to harass the Inter defence thoughout the Lazio defence stood strong as they nullified forward forays from Maicon and Sneijder with the Dutch man looking particularly frustrated.
That frustration soon turned to delight as Sneijder’s class prevailed to give Leonardo a much easier team talk at half-time when . The Dutchman curled a superb free-kick into the top left corner and out of Fernando Muslera's reach in the 40th minute to leave matters level at the interval.
Sneijder & Samu | Inter's two goal heroes celebrate
The second half began in an equally exciting manner, with both sides again venturing forward looking to claim the lead. Javier Zanetti pumped forward a hopeful ball in the 53rd minute and Eto’o was lurking when Giuseppe Biava slipped. The ex-Barcelona striker had the simple task of rounding the helpless Muslera before rolling the ball into the empty net to give Leonardo’s team the lead.
The goal did not give Inter much peace though as their defence was breached again, Lucio just managing to clear a dangerous cross. Moments later Dias missed a golden opportunity to bring Lazio back onto level terms.
Lazio were also reduced to 10 men in the 66th minute when Stephano Mauri lashed out stupidly against Nagatomo, who had just stolen possession from the striker; this didn’t deter the Biancazzurri from pushing for a share of the points. Brocchi did brilliantly to set up the electric Zarate and the diminutive striker almost equalised, but his scissor kicked effort cannoned back off the bar as Inter clung on.
Maicon could have wrapped up all 3 points late on when the Brazilian right back was found with an accurate long ball from the back. However he delayed too long and Muslera was able to superbly fist away the placed effort behind for a corner.
The victory for Inter see them leapfrog Napoli into second place, after their rivals suffered a 2-1 loss away to Palermo. With only 4 games left to play though Inter have very little time to rein in Milan's 5 points lead at the summit of Serie A. Lazio remain 4th on 60 points since Udinese also lost, 2-0 to Parma.
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