Jose Mourinho will have breathed a sigh of relief last night as his Inter side played out a hard-fought but deserved win against a battling Dynamo Kiev side who will be ruing the two late goals which condemned them to the bottom of Group F.
After an evenly-matched opening quarter-of-an-hour where chances for both sides were few and far between, the game sparked into life on the 20-minute mark when former Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko received the ball on the outside of the Inter box before firing a wonderfully weighted lob over a despairing Julio Cesar to give the Ukrainian side the lead. Inter responded well to going a goal behind and began pressing immediately for an equaliser, however they looked susceptible to the Dynamo break with Shevchenko again going close on 39 minutes, firing just wide of Cesar’s post after being set up by the impressive Artem Milevskiy.
Following the break, Inter’s class began to tell and the Nerazzurri began to dominate proceedings, creating chance after chance but finding a combination of solid defence and sheer bad luck thwarting them at every opportunity. With the game entering the final five minutes, Inter’s luck changed. The excellent Wesley Sneijder, cutting inside from the wings with the ball, launched a fierce shot into the box which fell to the feet of Diego Milito who calmly slotted the ball past a wrong-footed Stanyslav Bohush. Three minutes later a mistake by the Ukrainian goalkeeper allowed the Dutchman to get on the scoresheet himself, bundling the ball home to give Inter their first win in the competition for eight games and leaving the Dynamo players and fans crestfallen at the final whistle.
Diego Milito: “This is a fundamental victory…it was a very tough game. Dynamo play very good football, but we played a good match in the second half and we deserved to win. We had many chances to score earlier but fortunately we were lucky with our last two.”
Andrey Shevchenko: “I think that we paid for our inexperience…with so many young players in our team…we should have played to protect our lead from the first half, but with players who are not used to being involved in games of this calibre, these are the risks…in the second half, Inter had lots of opportunities to score goals, but we didn’t take advantage on the counter-attack”
Despite the narrow appearance of their victory against Kiev, Inter should have made the game far more comfortable well before two late goals secured victory. A second half performance full of creativity and class should have warranted more finesse in front of goal, where the likes of Milito, Samuel Eto’o, Walter Samuel and Mario Balotelli all missed glorious chances to put the game beyond Dynamo. In the opening stages of the match, both teams seemed cautious and neither one looked like taking a foothold in the game. For the majority of the early period the ball was bogged down in midfield, with both sides looking nervous. It was clear the game needed a touch of brilliance to brighten up proceedings, and it was the veteran Andriy Shevchenko who delivered. Receiving the ball from a throw in outside of the area, the 33-year-old brushed off the challenge of Esteban Cambiasso before looping a perfectly weighted ball over the out of position Julio Cesar to give the Ukrainian champions the lead.
Although the disappointment of conceding inspired Inter to pursue a more attacking approach to the game, far too often the Nerazzurri would lose possession on the edge of the Dynamo area, allowing the home side the opportunity to counter attack. On 39 minutes Shevchenko again came close to doubling Kiev’s lead, firing narrowly wide after being set up by Artem Milevskiy. Following his side’s disappointing first half performance, Head Coach Jose Mourinho rang the changes at the start of the second period with both Cristian Chivu and the disappointing Cambiasso making way for the in-form Mario Balotelli and Thiago Motta. The substitutions gave Inter the creative edge they were lacking and Dejan Stankovic’s stinging long range drive in the opening minutes of the half was a sign of things to come.
Inter’s next big opportunity to equalise came on 66 minutes. A wonderfully placed Wesley Sneijder free kick found Walter Samuel just outside the Dynamo six yard box and the Argentinean’s deft header floated over a crowd of players only to hit the base of the post, with Bogush helpless. Two minutes later, a beautiful through ball delivered by Samuel Eto’o found the substitute Balotelli one-on-one with the ‘keeper, however his cool chip over Bogush bounced merely inches wide, to the great relief of the vast majority of those packed into the stadium.
With Inter piling on the pressure it was only a matter of time before they got the equaliser, and on 85 minutes the Nerazzurri found the breakthrough. With most of their players forward, the ball found its way to Sneijder who cut inside from the left and launched a shot into the box, finding the unmarked Diego Milito who coolly slotted the ball home
Moments later Inter had their second goal. On 88 minutes, substitute Sulley Muntari’s fierce effort squeezed its way under the body of Bogush and was kept in play by Milito, whose own shot on goal bounced off the unlucky goalkeeper and was forced in by the outstretched boot of Sneijder. Cue wild celebrations on the Inter bench – Dynamo can only wonder what might have been.
Dynamo Kiev (4-4-2): Bogush – Eremenko, Khacheridi, Almeida, Magrao – Mikhalik, Ninkovic, Vukojevic, Yarmolenko – Shevchenko, Milevskiy
Inter (4-3-1-2): Júlio César – Maicon, Samuel, Lucio, Chivu – Zanetti, Cambiasso, Stankovic – Sneijder – Eto’o, Milito