Samuel Eto'o sends Inter joint top of Serie A and silenced racist chanting in Cagliari...A wonderful Samuel Eto'o goal saw Inter overcome a resolute Cagliari side in a game of few chances at Sant'Elia. The 39th minute strike sees Nerazzurri go joint top of Serie A with their fierce rivals Milan although Lazio could leapfrog both tonight with victory over Bari.
The game endured a slow start which wasn't helped on three minutes when referee Tagliavento halted play for three minutes so that a stadium announcement could be made warning Cagliari supporters that further racist chanting in the direction of Eto'o could lead to postponement.
Once play resumed, the Italian champions started to dictate play yet struggled to create a clear opportunity in the opening 20 minutes with Cagliari being defensively well organised.
The game had to wait until the 24th minute for the first shot on goal. A clever Eto'o lay-off saw the youngster Coutinho shoot from 20 yards yet Agazzi made a smart save to his left.
As the game approached half-time the game had developed into an equal contest and on 35 minutes the home side came close to scoring the opener. Radja Nainggolan expertly picked out Andrea Cossu on the edge of the box who narrowly missed the target.
Yet it was Nerazzurri who opened the scoring through a moment of magic from Eto'o on 39 minutes. The Cameroonian striker controlled the ball expertly on the edge of the Cagliari box, showing quick feet before unleashing an unstoppable low effort which the outstretched hand of Agazzi could do nothing about. That was the ex-Barcelona player's sixth Serie A goal of the season.
The Rossoblu started the second-half the brighter of the two sides and came close to levelling the scoring on 49 minutes. Nene broke free of Lucio and Samuel to smash a shot at goal from 15 yards. Julio Cesar was able to parry the ball away only for Alessandro Matri to pick up the rebound and smash another effort at goal which Cesar was equal to, an excellent double save.
Four minutes later it was Rafa Benitez' men who nearly doubled lead through the talismanic Eto'o. The goalscorer was able to cut in from the left and send a curling effort towards the sprawling Cagliari 'keeper who did well to turn the ball behind for a corner.
Both teams struggled for fluency as the clocked ran down. In the last quarter of the game Inter looked content with their one goal lead and were nearly made to pay on 75 minutes.
Captain Daniele Conti whipped in a dangerous ball from the right only for it to take a wicked deflection off Christian Chivu and smash off the bar with Cesar left stranded. Luckily for the Brazilian in goal, substitute Robert Aquafresca could not get any power on the rebound as the 'keeper claimed the ball easily.
Inter were able to hold on to the lead comfortably to claim victory and now head to London on Wednesday to play Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League. Cagliari head to high-flyers Lazio next Sunday.
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