Inter Milan held on for a scoreless draw at the San Siro against Sampdoria despite playing for nearly an hour with just nine men on the pitch.
The Nerazzurri had two men sent off within the first 38 minutes but their grit and determination saw them come home to stretch Jose Mourinho’s unbeaten home run into its ninth year. The game was frightfully devoid of footballing action yet it managed to be engrossing purely because of Inter’s numerical disadvantage. Their inability to score for the second game running meant that the frontrunners could see their lead at the top cut down to five points after tomorrow’s matches.
Inter’s attacking prowess was crippled in six minutes of absolute madness by their central defenders. Walter Samuel and Ivan Cordoba received their marching orders within moments of each other to leave Mourinho fielding a 4-3-1 formation. After seeing out the first half, it was Inter however who created the best chances in the second. Samuel Eto’o missed an opportunity to send this game into the history books as his close-range shot was blocked by Marco Storari. Sampdoria produced nothing significant in the last 45 as Gigi Del Neri’s men seemed content to come away with a point despite having a two-man advantage.
The result had its shades of both positives and negatives for the Italian champions. On the one hand, the team’s attack seems impotent all of a sudden. Eto’o is clearly struggling to get his scoring boots back on and probably it was with mind to give Goran Pandev a rest did the Cameroonian start this game. Mourinho will be hoping that Mario Balotelli will be fit to play on Wednesday against Chelsea as he presents a better option than Eto’o for the Nerazzurri. Despite their struggles however, Inter have not looked like being in real trouble over these last three games.
The other point which came out from the game was Inter’s strong mentality. Sampdoria’s pedestrian play certainly helped the team to hold on for an hour with nine men but nonetheless it is a credible achievement by all standards. It is proving to be extremely difficult for their domestic rivals to get past this side even if they have their backs against the wall. This spirit certainly seems to be running through the veins of all the players and it will be a welcome sign ahead of a crucial game.
Mourinho will now hope that against a more formidable Chelsea side his defence does not commit such mistakes and his attack delivers in time. He will be eager to get back to winning ways in the Serie A sooner rather than later.