Inter remain unbeaten at home, and extended their lead at the top of Serie A, after a scrappy and well earned draw against Sampdoria at the San Siro last night, whilst Jose Mourinho extends his own run to 130 games at home without defeat.
The Nerazzurri put this record in jeopardy however, going down to nine men in the first half, with first Walter Samuel sent off for catching Nicola Pozzi in the face with a flailing arm and shortly followed by Ivan Cordoba who accumulated two yellow cards, the second for a rough challenge, again on Pozzi.
Samuel’s straight red caused a mass confrontation between the players as Inter accused Pozzi of embellishing the impact of the challenge in an attempt to get Samuel sent off. Samuel Eto’o was booked for diving late on in the match, leaving Mourinho laughing with bemusement on the touchline, and the home supporters waving white tissue paper in protest at the decisions of the referee. Pazzini was later sent off for Sampdoria leaving the final number on the pitch at nineteen. Although the game was heated for all the wrong reasons, Inter should nonetheless have gone 1-0 up through Eto’o during the bad-tempered first half, after an excellent headed through-ball from Diego Milito found the Cameroonian striker 10 yards from goal, but he could only fire wide.
With his impressive home record at serious risk, Mourinho handled his numeric deficiency with aplomb in the second half, switching to a 4-3-1 and encouraging Inter to press on and search for a winner in the second period. Marco Storari in the Sampdoria goal was forced into good saves from Wesley Sneijder and an excellent one in the final few minutes from Eto’o. The ex-Barcelona striker was denied from close range after a through ball from Goran Pandev.
Mourinho and Inter will be relieved, and on a quiet Saturday fixture day in Serie A, with Genoa and Udinese the only other teams in action, they were able to extend their lead at the top of the table to eight points. Ominously for the other Italian title contenders, Inter showed yesterday that they can mix grit and determination with style and flair. Roma, Milan and Napoli all play later today, and it remains to be seen whether any of these teams can close the gap on Inter.