CL Comment: Inter’s Samuel Eto’o Rises To The Big Occasion Once Again

Anthony Wright marvels at the Cameroonian’s tendency to be the decisive factor in crucial matches for his team…
The second leg of Inter’s Champions League tie against Chelsea was still very much in the balance as the clock ticked down, and as both sides defended stoically it was a case of who would blink first. As Wesley Sneijder carved the Blues’ backline open in the 78th minute, there was only one person that the Nerazzurri fans would have wanted the ball to fall to, and Samuel Eto’o duly dispatched a powerful shot into the bottom corner to seal the tie.

It is not the first time that the Nkon-born striker has haunted Chelsea, as he has now eliminated them three times from Europe’s top club competition, while he also has an excellent record against other English sides. When it comes to the biggest occasion in European club football, the Champions League final, Eto’o has been equally decisive. With his strike against Carlo Ancelotti’s side fresh in the memory, looks back at some of the other occasions that the 29-year-old has stepped up to the plate.

June 28, 2003 – Mallorca 3-0 Recreativo Huelva: Eto’o had enjoyed his best season in his career with los Barralets in 2002/03, helping them to the final of the Copa del Rey. As the islanders nervously sat on a 1-0 lead, Eto’o scored two goals in the final 20 minutes to put the game beyond doubt and guarantee Mallorca their first Copa del Rey title. The performance was particularly poignant given the tragic death of his international team-mate Marc-Vivien Foe just two days previously.

February 22, 2006 – Chelsea 1-2 Barcelona: Eto’o’s match-winning goal in the first leg of Barcelona’s tie with Chelsea in the round of 16 was a body blow from which Jose Mourinho’s side were unable to recover. The Cameroonian rose above Paolo Ferreira to head home Rafael Marquez’s cross in the 79th minute to put the Blaugrana within touching distance of a quarter final berth.

May 17, 2006 – Barcelona 2-1 Arsenal:
The fact that Frank Rijkaard’s side were able to overcome Arsenal was in no small part down to Eto’o. The striker would have given the Spanish side the lead in the first half but was brought down by Gunners keeper Jens Lehmann, earning the German a red card, before he saw a shot turned onto the post by Manuel Almunia. He was not to be denied a goal, as he turned home Henrik Larsson’s pass to give the Blaugrana a crucial equaliser 15 minutes from time.

May 27, 2009 – Barcelona 2-0 Manchester United: The English giants were the dominant side in the opening minutes in the Stadio Olimpico, but the game was turned on its head when Eto’o easily beat Nemanja Vidic before firing a shot past Edwin van der Sar to give Barcelona the lead. The Spanish giants would settle after the goal and dominated the game thereafter, with Pep Guardiola lifting the Champions League trophy in his first season as coach.

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