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January 26, 2014
• Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milano
Referee: A. De Marco
• Attendance: 35007
However, a sequence of long balls into the area is nowhere near good enough, and Catania earn a hard-fought point on their travels! Inter's floundering start to 2014, on the other hand, shows no signs of abating, and they continue to fall further and further away from European contention. Thanks for joining me today and I wish you all a fond farewell!
90' + 3'
Inter throw everything at Catania in a bid to have any sniff of a chance of keeping all three points in Milan.
90' + 2'
Catania put together a lovely move, started by the playmaking tendencies of Lodi to find Almiron in space, before the ball is played out wide to Biraghi who crosses into the path of Castro. Rolando, however, is there to deflect the attacker's effort out for a corner!
90' + 1'
Four minutes of injury time have been added on.
Palacio has put in a hell of a shift today, and he marauds forward with the beating of his markers. However, no-one is in the box to meet his cross! A simple tap-in was all that was needed...
ANOTHER MISSED OPPORTUNITY SQUANDERED BY INTER!!! Alvarez's crossing ability was evident again as his outswinging corner could only be headed over by... you guessed it, Palacio!
It's Catania's turn to hit back with a chance of their own, and they ALMOST get it right as Almiron's low cross misses Bergessio but finds Castro on the far left, yet the striker fails to make the second bite of the cherry count with some poor execution.
GREAT SAVE FRISON!!! The shot-stopper has been in fine form this afternoon, as he instinctively dives to his left to deny Rolando from heading home what arguably would have been the winner. Kovacic starred again as he released the ball quickly to find Alvarez out wide.
Nagatomo works hard to tap into space down the left-hand side, and he lays off Kovacic, who turns on a sixpence before launching a lobbed pass deep into the Catania box, but Frison claims confidently.
Ruben Botta adds to the Argentine love-in, as he replaces Juan Jesus for only his third Inter appearance.
CHEEKY FROM JONATHAN!!! The right-back is favoured over Alvarez to take the free kick, which is in a similar position to their previous, yet he goes for a delicate lob over the wall which almost stuns the Catania backline!
A corner is bent into a melee of players in the area, yet Rolando's header loops too high to test Frison.
... a corner is what! He shapes up nicely from around 25 yards out, but it bounces off the wall and into the stand behind the goal.
Yellow Card Nicola Legrottaglie
For the first time since his introduction, Kovacic is afforded space to roam with the ball at feet in the middle, and he finds Palacio on the right before Legrottaglie takes one for his team by fouling the Argentine on the edge of the box. What can Alvarez muster up from this free kick I wonder...
The away side are really going for it now, bringing off right-back Peruzzi and deploying playmaker Sergio Almiron in his place.
Castro almost makes an instant impact, linking up with Bergessio from deep before playing the ball to Peruzzi down the far right, yet Juan Jesus is there to shepherd out the danger for a goal kick.
Catania make a bold substitution, electing to replace the hard-working - yet quite controversial - Leto with a more elegant attacking player in Lucas Castro.
Alvarez's deep cross is well plucked out of the air by Frison. The former Velez man is then griped to discover that Leto won a throw for Catania at his expense.
Taider is found in a pocket of space near the Catania D and unleashes a snapshot, but one of the visitors' shirts jumps in the way of the young midfielder's effort! This is becoming quite herculean from the Sicilians.
So you thought Inter had the most number of Argentines in a single squad? Think again, for Catania have an incredible 15 in theirs! Five of their contingent are on show this afternoon.
Kovacic thinks he has successfully dispossessed Leto on the far right, yet the touchline is against his favour.
Inter just about deal with the set-piece, as it perilously bounces in the box, requiring Campagnaro to blast the loose ball clear.
Shortly before Catania take their corner, Cambiasso trudges off the field of play to be replaced by Saphir Taider. Moments earlier, Bellusci defended expertly with his body to win a free kick off Juan Jesus.
It's getting a bit feisty out there as Izco shoulder-barges into the side of Cambiasso, despite the Inter midfielder executing a just sliding tackle into the Elefanti captain.
Leto continues to deceive the referee this afternoon, as Alvarez fairly wins the ball off his countryman down the near touchline, yet the ex-Liverpool man tumbles to the ground as if he were shot. A drop-ball it is...
Inter win another corner as Alvarez's drilled cross is hacked clear by Rolin shirt, with Palacio ready to pounce! Sadly for the hosts, nothing comes of the set-piece.
BERGESSIOOOOO!!! The burly frontman is found in space once more, having played the advantage from the foul inflicted on Peruzzi, and he hammers a stinging effort towards the top corner of Handanovic's net which whistles just over!
Alvarez makes a darting run from the right-hand side to meet Milito's through ball on the left, and the Argentine - as cool as you like - backheels into the path of Nagatomo, but he is shoved off the ball in an instant.
The flag was raised, however, meaning the goal wouldn't have counter. Inter continue to throw the kitchen sink at Catania, yet Alvarez can't keep his cross in play.
Inter look to have woken up since Bergessio's glorious effort.. AND THEY SUDDENLY HIT THE BAR THROUGH PALACIO'S DIVING HEADER!!!
INCHES AWAY!!!! Alvarez is cheaply dispossessed in his own half and Bergessio takes matters into his own hands with a fantastic turn on the edge of the box before slamming a shot off-balance a matter of centimetres wide!
Palacio bursts forward in a direct manner and tries his luck at goal, but he drags his finish into Frison's gloves.
The match is restarted by Catania!
Great news for Inter fans as Kovacic is spotted in the tunnel sporting the club's kit in full!
We're at the halfway stage, with the scores reading 0-0.
... and unsurprisingly, it rolls off for a throw. One minute of injury time is to be played out before the whistle is blown.
The match is suffering from an alarming lack of atmosphere, with absolutely no penetration currently on show. However, that may change with Alvarez's corner...
Alvarez ducks under a challenge in the centre-circle, but the referee is having none of it. Catania press on through Leto, who lays the ball wide to Peruzzi - and Biraghi in tandem - but a goal kick is, not for the first time, the result.
Yet another Inter cross fails to make a connection with any of the boys in black and blue. Thohir looks captivated by the action on the pitch, clenching his fist in frustration after witnessing another failed opportunity.
Kuzmanovic is booked following a quite ridiculous decision by the referee. The Serbian midfielder is entangled in a duel with Leto - who has been play-acting for much of the game - and fairly emerges with the ball, yet understandably displays his fury when the official pulls him up.
Yellow Card Zdravko Kuzmanovic
MILITO AGAIN!!! The Argentine is found in the box with an inch-perfect pass from Palacio, yet his inexplicably fails to get the ball under control and the chance disappears in front of his very eyes!
Bellusci clips the heels of Milito, who cleverly swivels on the ball, but Inter's short free kick is poorly wasted. The pressure's now on Catania to get a result here, as Livorno are 3-1 up against Sassuolo.
Inter appear to be running out of ideas at the moment, as Palacio lets fly from an outrageous position. Moratti draws a cigarette to his mouth while Thohir looks on nervously.
All the big boys go up for Catania as Lodi takes a corner, but Cambiasso heads the danger away before anyone else can take control of the ball.
SHOULD HAVE DONE BETTER!! Bergessio is furious with Izco after the captain had forayed through the middle of the Inter defence and played a through ball - full of bobbles - to the striker on the far right. Handanovic restarts from the goal kick.
Bergessio's work-rate is admirable. The striker tracks all the way back from his attacking position to nick the ball off Palacio, skip past two players and lay off Leto. However, Rolando blasts the loose possession into the orbit.
MILITO!!!! The Argentine collects the ball from Palacio on the edge of the box and slams a low shot into the palms of Frison for a corner, which Kuzmanovic skies!
A rather questionable offside flag is raised as Jonathan - clearly a yard on - is penalised, despite his consequent cross meeting the head of Palacio at the far post.
Campagnaro tries a spectacular long ball, deep from his own half, but it's too optimistic and a goal kick is awarded.
Yellow Card Fabián Rinaudo
DESPERATELY CLOSE!!! Jonathan powers forward and whips a low cross into the box which Bellusci almost diverts into his own net! The ball is subsequently cleared for a throw.
Free-kick master Lodi steps over the ball to the right of goal after Leto is felled again. Unfortunately for Catania, Juan Jesus is there to head the ball away.
Alvarez skins his marker with a burst of pace down the left and bends a tantalising cross into the box, but Legrottaglie times his header to perfection, with Milito lurking dangerously behind him.
It's been a pretty average first 15 minutes at the Giuseppe Meazza. There's a distinct lack of drive in the Inter midfield - expected due to the absence of Guarin. However, just as I say that, there's a chance!
The Nerazzurri are afforded their third corner of the afternoon via Alvarez, who sees his cross deflected off the field of play by Rolin. The centre-back repeats his actions moments later by conceding a throw.
There's a duel brewing between Leto and Juan Jesus now, as the stopper intercepts the forward's through pass, before nipping at his opponent's heels petulantly.
Catania string together their first move of the game, yet it's Leto who's on the receiving end of the official's wrath this time as he fouls Campagnaro in a 50-50 following Bergessio's clever flick-on near the edge of the Inter box.
Leto does well to win a free kick - and restrain himself - as he bypasses both Cambiasso and Juan Jesus near his own box but is seemingly tripped by the Brazilian, who he expresses his displeasure to before calming down with the referee breathing down his neck.
Inter launch another assault on the Catania goal down the left, but it results in another corner as Legrottaglie stops Alvarez in his tracks.
Alvarez gets the game's first sight of goal with a curling strike from the edge of the box which is always rising.
Catania's tackling has been on point so far. Ex-Inter youngster Biraghi flies in with another robust, but perfectly legitimate, challenge to dispossess Nagatomo on the far left.
Inter earn the first corner of the match through Milito, who evades Rolin in the box and sends a cross towards Jonathan, but the ball is blocked before the Brazilian can receive it. Nothing comes of the set-piece, however...
Plenty of action down the right-hand side of the pitch, as Campagnaro's throw ends up with Leto, before the Argentine miscontrols the ball and Rinaudo is there to mop up the pressure with a crunching slide tackle.
Inter, in their famous blue-black stripes, get proceedings under way, going from left-to-right against their all-red counterparts.
As reported pre-match, Erick Thohir is in the stands alongside former Inter supremo Massimo Moratti... anyway the players flood out onto the pitch with kick-off now imminent!
Catania are currently rock-bottom of the Serie A standings, four points adrift of nearest rivals Livorno, and it remains to be seen how they will cope without defensive lynchpin Pablo Alvarez and skilful attacker Pablo Barrientos. We have an extremely tactical affair on our hands, judging by the almost-identical systems opted for by the two coaches on show today.
For Catania, however, they hand a debut to new signing Fabian Rinaudo, who slots straight into the middle of the Sicilians' five-man midfield, while they can also call upon playmaker Francesco Lodi again following his ban. Returning coach Rolando Maran will be hoping to see a much-improved performance from his basement boys this time out, having endured a 3-0 defeat to Fiorentina in his second debut last week.
It's quite a strong team named by Walter Mazzarri, who keeps faith in his 3-4-2-1 formation. Inter have been criticised for a lack of creativity recently - shown by their vacuum of goals and victories in their last five matches. However, there is no Ishak Belfodil in the squad due to his impending loan switch to English second-tier side QPR, neither is the controversy-ridden Fredy Guarin present. Cristian Chivu, meanwhile, is a long-term absentee through injury.
Latterly, we have the Elefantini: Frison; Legrottaglie, Bellusci, Rolin; Peruzzi, Izco, Lodi, Rinaudo, Biraghi; Leto, Bergessio.
Here are the two teams, starting with the Nerazzurri: Handanovic; Campagnaro, Rolando, Juan Jesus; Jonathan, Kuzmanovic, Cambiasso, Nagatomo; Alvarez, Palacio; Milito.
Hello and welcome to LIVE commentary of the Serie A clash between Inter and Catania! It's me Livio Caferoglu again to take you through all the trials and tribulations that await us in Milan this afternoon.
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