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Inter 2-0 Rubin Kazan: Samuel Eto'o & Mario Balotelli Take The Nerazzurri Through

Inter progressed through to the last 16 after a 2-0 win over Rubin Kazan in Champions League Group F action this evening.

A close range Samuel Eto'o strike and Mario Balotelli free kick did the damage as Inter finish second behind Barcelona, while Rubin have to settle for the Europa League.

All was to play for in this match. Inter knew that a win would guarantee them a place in the next round. As would a draw of lower than 2-2 providing Dynamo Kiev didn't beat Barcelona. Rubin needed three points or else they would be facing elimination.

Inter were minus the services of the suspended Cristian Chivu and injured Davide Santon and Ricardo Quaresma. Wesley Sneijder returned and supported a three-man attack of Diego Milito, Samuel Eto'o and Mario Balotelli. Rubin were without the injured Aleksandr Bukharov and Roman Sharonov.

Inter attacked from the start and Balotelli nutmegged his man beautifully before shooting straight at Sergei Ryzhikov.

But the home side received a blow on 13 minutes as Walter Samuel sustained a muscular injury, and Ivan Cordoba took his place.

Rubin had their first opening on 17 minutes as Julio Cesar had to be at full stretch to push Gokdeniz Karadeniz's shot around the post. Rafal Murawski also wasted a good position, following impressive work by Aleksandr Ryazantsev.

On the half-an-hour mark Inter broke the deadlock. Javier Zanetti was persistent down the left, and Balotelli flicked the ball into the path of Eto'o to smash in.

Sneijder blasted over from 25 yards, while Zanetti embarked on an incredible slalom before being cynically taken down by Cesar Navas.

On the stroke of half-time, Ryzhikov made a brilliant one-hand save to deny Maicon as Inter went in 1-0 to the good.

Eto'o broke the deadlock

Rubin came shooting out of the blocks in the second half and twice could have equalised - first through Karadeniz and then through Dominguez.

Inter lost their second player to injury as Esteban Cambiasso replaced Dejan Stankovic, and the Nerazzurri again escaped when Christian Noboa scuffed wide at the back post.

Cambiasso immediately tested Ryzhikov, before Balotelli missed a glorious chance to kill the game on the hour mark as he scuffed wide with just the 'keeper to beat.

Rubin started to throw more and more men forward as they realised they needed two goals to qualify.

But on 63 minutes Balotelli booked Inter's place in the knockouts with a thunderous free kick from 35 yards. The teenager's effort was central but the power and swerve was something to behold.

It could have been three as Balotelli slid the ball wide from close range, and Sneijder rattled the post from just outside the box.

This result means that Inter qualify for the knockout round along with Barcelona. Rubin Kazan have to content themselves with the Europa League.

Anthony Sormani,