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The Blucerchiati battled their way to victory against a toothless Nerazzurri team...


Sampdoria secured a huge victory at Marassi on Saturday evening, with Giampaolo Pazzini's second half goal separating the two sides.

The Blucerchiati started with Claudio Bellucci in the starting lineup, while Pazzini and Antonio Cassano were in attack. Mario Balotelli joined the attacking trident for the Nerazzurri alongside Diego Milito and Samuel Eto'o.

The vocal Marassi crowd were right behind their team from the outset, and both sides began the game at a high tempo.

Chances were at a premium in the opening stages; although both sides won early corners, neither was able to capitalise on the opportunity. The play was somewhat broken up by some overzealous officiating, but the hosts were containing the threat of Inter's strikers.

Balotelli was causing the bandaged Reto Ziegler even more of a headache with his movement, but the youngster's set pieces were lacking in accuracy.

The 19-year-old tested Luca Castellazzi with a long range effort, but the 'keeper was given a sterner test moments later when Esteban Cambiasso shot from inside the penalty area after the Samp defence switched off.

Chaos reigned in the Nerazzurri penalty area in the 28th minute as they failed to clear their lines, but Angelo Palombo could not get a clean strike with either of his efforts and the danger was gone.

The game was beginning to open up, but the Inter midfield was unable to provide Milito or Eto'o with a clear cut chance.

Sampdoria were growing equally frustrated by the ease with which Cassano and Pazzini were being tamed by the Beneamata defence, and Cassano was correctly booked for a dive on 38 minutes.

Julio Cesar beat away a long range shot by Ziegler as the game went into first half stoppage time, but there was work to do for both Gigi Del Neri and Jose Mourinho after a dour first half.


Prolific Pazzini - The Italian was on target for the Blucerchiati

No changes were made at half-time, and it was Inter who took the initiative at the start of the second half. With less than 90 seconds gone, Balotelli laid a ball off for Milito in the penalty area but the Argentine dragged his shot wide.

'Super Mario' was the Nerazzurri's most lively player in the attacking third as their midfield looked devoid of creativity once again. Ten minutes into the second half, he cut inside from the left wing but his deflected shot was beaten away by Castellazzi.

Andrea Poli then went down in the box following a challenge by Davide Santon, but referee Rizzoli waved away the protests.

Dejan Stankovic was brought on for Patrick Vieira to provide a greater attacking threat, while Mourinho also took off Balotelli in place of Cristian Chivu.

The visitors pressed forward in search of a goal, but were not testing Castellazzi as often as they would have wished. Eto'o flashed a shot wide from 20 yards in the 70th minute, and the lack of attacking ideas cost them.

In the 72nd minute possession was gifted to Palombo, who fed Daniele Mannini inside the penalty area. The winger sent a first time cross in for a totally unmarked Giampaolo Pazzini to sidefoot home.

Mourinho responded by throwing Ricardo Quaresma into the fray, but Sampdoria were pressing hard and not allowing any space to be opened up.

Inter had the ball in the net in the 84th minute but Quaresma's shot deflected in off Lucio, who was in an offside position. The Nerazzurri threw bodies forward in search of the equaliser, but could not penetrate the sturdy Samp backline.

As the game ticked into second half stoppage time, Lucio fired in a 25-yard free kick that was bending into the bottom corner until Castellazzi palmed it behind with a brilliant save.

It was as close as the Beneamata got to a goal, as the referee consigned them to their first defeat of the season after four minutes of injury time.

Anthony Wright, Goal.com

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