Samuel Eto’o scored again for Inter making sure that their weakened outfit picked up all three points away at Cagliari. The main man of Inter’s season so far has been asked to step up and find the goals the rest of his team cannot and he is not disappointing.
The Nerazzurri went to Cagliari with a depleted side, with Diego Milito, Esteban Cambiasso and Goran Pandev all missing from the first eleven. The line up consisted of Julio Cesar in goal, a back four of Maicon, Lucio, Walter Samuel and Christian Chivu with Javier Zanetti and Dejan Stankovic acting as the holding players, in front of them Wesley Sneijder dropped in behind an unconventional front three of Samuel Eto’o, Jonathan Ludovic Biabiany and Philippe Coutinho.
The game was only a couple of minutes old when it was called to a stop. The referee, Paolo Tagliavento called over the two captains and indicated that the fourth official had noticed that the Cagliari were fans targeting Samuel Eto’o with racial abuse. The stadium announcer told the crowd that the game would be stopped should the crowd persist. After three minutes the game was allowed to get back on track and the jeers stopped, Cagliari coach Pierpaolo Bisoli said after the game that he thought the boos had been misinterpreted “Honestly I wasn’t aware of anything, I’ve been asked a lot about it but what happened? I wouldn’t want normal jeers which are generally aimed at opponents to be confused with racist insults. I know the Sardinian fans and how civilized they are, I’ve never heard this sort of things from Cagliari fans.”
When the game did get under way Inter did not seem have their usual drive and although slowly starting to dominate the play they did not create any clear cut chances. When the chance did come it fell to the young Brazilian Coutinho whose 20 yard shot forced a good save from Michael Agazzi. Inter then nearly paid for a lapse in concentration as Andrea Cossu came close to scoring for the visitors from the edge of the box. Inter needed some inspiration and it once again fell to Samuel Eto’o to provide it. On the 39th minute the Cameroonian picked up the ball and showing sublime control he quickly moved it inside leaving one defender static before unleashing a thunderbolt into the bottom corner for 1-0. If there had been anyone in the stand who was thinking of taunting Eto’o they had now been well and truly silenced. In the second half Cagliari came out fighting and almost equalised if it had not been for the heroics of Julio Cesar. Nenê had picked up the ball and avoided the tackles of Lucio and Samuel, once in the box he unleashed his effort at goal which was brilliantly parried by the Brazilian, the ball however, fell into the path of Alessandro Matri who fired an effort back towards goal, Cesar was equal to this to getting up brilliantly and parry the next attempt away, more evidence if it was needed that Cesar is one of the best goalkeepers in world football. The game after this had few chances, Eto’o saw another effort of his tipped over the cross bar by a rather theatrical save from Agazzi and Inter themselves suffered a scare when Cristian Chivu deflected a shot onto his own cross bar. The game looked like it had taken its toll on Cagliari and they looked jaded which helped Inter as they managed to guide their own broken ship into port.
Inter have to contend with a visit from Tottenham Hotspur in mid-week and will wish they had the presence of their missing players. They will take solace in the form of Samuel Eto’o as he continues to fire on all cylinders although Rafael Benitez was quick to quash rumours that they were dependent on the man from Cameroon, “We are not dependent on Eto’o. When I have a more complete squad to choose from, we will have more alternatives and styles of play.” The Inter boss continued to say that he was looking for replacements to his squad in the January transfer window, “We need to analyse two or three situations with director Marco Branca. I think we need to buy new players in January so we can be sharp right to the end of the season.”
The age old saying that to win a title you need to win ugly is extremely apt in Inter’s case at the moment. There have been moments where the Nerazzurri have shown supreme beauty in their football, no more so that the games against Bari and Werder Bremen, however, at the end of the season this win away at Cagliari will be just as important.