Samuel Eto’o scored a brace in Sicily as Inter played well to come from behind against Palermo. Another vital three points have been taken from a tough away day at the Stadio Renzo Barbera in a game that moved the Nerazzurri into second place.
Rafael Benitez took his squad the Sicilian capital on Sunday, with the mid week 2-2 draw with FC Twente having brought up as many questions as it had answers, and the Milanese side were keen to keep their Serie A season on track. Wesley Sneijder was ruled out of the game but replaced with Dejan Stankovic, whilst Goran Pandev was declared fit to play. Inter started the game well and although their early attacks were rebuffed, Stankovic nearly broke the dead lock with a superb strike that cannoned off the cross bar. It was against the run of play that Palermo scored, Javier Pastore saw his shot parried by Julio Cesar but debutant Josip Ilicic was on hand to tap in the rebound. The Nerazzurri attacked straight from the restart and Diego Milito in particular construed to miss a number of chances, but this did not dampen the away sides enthusiasm to equalise. Samuel Eto’o eventually managed to find the equaliser, after he picked up the ball on the 18-yard line he outpaced Ezequiel Muñoz before smashing the ball across the face of Salvatore Sirigu. Eto’o continued to impress and it was not long before he had scored his second, and Inter’s winner. A good one-two with Maicon got the ball to Stankovic, who squared the ball for Eto’o to hit home from close range. Inter were victorious and had also beaten a Palermo team that had previously boasted an unbeaten home record spanning 29 matches.
A good performance from the Nerazzurri will put some doubtful minds at rest for the time being as the performance, although not perfect, showed promise. Rafael Benitez was extremely pleased with the result saying: “This afternoon we played some spectacular stuff. We mustn’t forget Palermo haven’t lost here for over a year and a half now and in the second half we showed great character to pursue victory.” Benitez is right to say that Inter showed character and they did create many opportunities to win this match, another positive is the scoring run of Samuel Eto’o – he notched his second and third league goals of the season.
One man who is not scoring at the moment is Diego Milito who was substituted at the weekend. As he left the field of play he decided not to high-five Benitez and was heard on the bench saying “Why I am always the one to come off?” followed by “This isn’t fine. We need to speak about this here.” These comments were obviously born out of frustration and the Inter boss was quick to respond with praise for the Argentine hitman saying “I think he had a fantastic game and did everything he had to do as a striker. He was just missing the goal, he mustn’t be concerned with not scoring. He must think about the great job that he has done for the team.” Benitez went on to say: “He will score many goals very soon. We spoke a few minutes ago and I have reiterated my confidence in him.” Milito by his own admission is lacking sharpness at the moment but as is so typical for the strikers at the top level, once a goal comes it is usually followed by many. Esteban Cambiasso has also backed his team-mate to recapture his form stating: “Diego is relaxed and it is only a matter of time before he gets firing again, what remains important is winning and we must focus on the results rather than individual performances.”
Inter can be full of confidence going into Wednesday’s game with Bari at the Giuseppe Meazza, despite a draw on the opening day and hard fought victories over Udinese and Palermo, the team is slowly finding form and getting into a rhythm. An adjustment period was always going to be needed but now, with Samuel Eto’o in good form, Inter look a force to be reckoned with, should Diego Milito and Goran Pandev start to fire soon the Nerazzurri will soon start to look like the invincible machine they were last year. It’s a slow process at Inter this year but it is certainly taking shape.