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Schalke 2-1 Inter

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Schalke secured their passage to the Champions League semi-finals as their 2-1 home win over underwhelming champions Inter completed a 7-3 aggregate success.

The hosts’ 5-2 victory at the San Siro last week had put them in a fantastic position to progress, and Raul’s goal on the stroke of half-time extended their huge advantage. Thiago Motta bundled home an equaliser after the break, but Leonardo’s side never looked likely to get close to the huge win they needed and eventually saw Benedikt Howedes seal their misery late on.
It was a slow start to the game as Schalke looked to stave off an early confidence-booster for the away side, and beyond a speculative effort from Wesley Sneijder, the Italians created little of note.

It was Raul who came closest in the opening 15 minutes, forcing Julio Cesar to hold onto a neat header from a left-wing cross.

Dejan Stankovic forced a diving save from Manuel Neuer with a fierce strike from 25 yards, but Maicon could then have done better from Stankovic’s chip shortly before half-time when he ghosted in at the far post but got only a slight touch on the ball on its way out of play.

Inter were made to pay on the stroke of the interval when Raul expertly rounded Julio Cesar after being given time and space to carve his way through the vistors’ defence following Jose Manuel Jurado‘s through-ball.
Schalke didn’t have the lead for long though as Thiago Motta got a flick onto a header from Sneijder’s right wing corner four minutes into the second period to give his side parity on the night.

But despite looking more able to create space, they never looked likely to further breach the home back-line. In fact, it was the men in blue who had the better chances, with Howedes foiled by an erroneous offside flag when lashing high into the net.

The centre-back eventually got his goal though, starting and ending a move through the middle, as he took advantage of being kept onside by Yuto Nagatomo by drilling a low effort beyond Julio Cesar at the near post.

For the reigning champions it was an embarrassing exit from the competition, while for Ralf Rangnick’s side there is a Champions League semi-final tie against Manchester United to come. They will host the Red Devils on April 26 before travelling to Old Trafford on May 4.

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Inter 2-5 Schalke

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Schalke stunned ten-man Inter in a highly entertaining match that also proved to be a horror show of defending. After entering the half-time break with the score 2-2, die Koenigsblauen scored three unanswered goals to put a foot in the Champions League semi-finals.

It took just 25 seconds for the hosts to go ahead through a wonder goal from Dejan Stankovic. Manuel Neuer was quick out of his goal to head a clearance to the halfway line, where the Serbian unleashed a tremendous volley that sailed into the net. Schalke responded in the 17th minute, however, as Joel Matip pounced on a loose ball in the six-yard box and struck to restore parity.

Diego Milito, a surprise inclusion who had a tremendous performance, restored Inter’s lead on 34 minutes as he volleyed in from Esteban Cambiasso’s header. However, Schalke managed to enter the half-time break on level terms thanks to Edu, who after having his initial effort saved, was first to the rebound to make it 2-2.

Inter started the second half with good form and had two chances within the opening exchanges, but Milito missed wide before Samuel Eto’o had an excellent attempt kept out by an even better save.

The hosts would be punished for their wastefulness shortly thereafter as Raul shrugged off the abominable Chivu to give the visitors a 3-2 lead on 53 minutes. Four minutes later, the increasingly influential Jose Jurado burst forward from midfield before his low cross was redirected into the net by Andrea Ranocchia to make it 4-2.

Things went from bad to worse for Inter in the 61st minute, when Chivu was sent off for a second yellow card. Jeers from the crowd ensued, and the hosts struggled to make up for their numerical disadvantage as die Knappen pressed forward and nearly got another goal through Jurado, who hit the post.

Just when the hosts appeared to be on their way to pulling a goal back, Jefferson Farfan slipped through the Inter defence and hit the post before Edu completed his brace with a stunning strike from 18 yards.

The final quarter hour was played in near silence as Schalke were conservative, while a dejected Inter succumbed to a humiliating defeat.

The result leaves Schalke on the verge of reaching the Champions League semi-finals for the first time in their history. Inter still have a slight chance of progressing, but will likely need a 4-0 win to overcome their deficit.

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Milan 3-0 Inter

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An Alexandre Pato double gave Milan all three points and possibly the Scudetto in a 3-0 derby win over bitter rivals Inter.

Pato opened the scoring in the first minute with a tap-in before Cristian Chivu dealt his sides’ chances of a comeback a huge blow on 53 minutes when he was sent off for tripping Milan’s goalscorer. The result was put to bed on 62 minutes when Pato doubled his and Milan’s tally.

Substitute Antonio Cassano completed the rout on 89 minutes, coverting a penalty he won himself before the former Sampdora man received his marching orders in the 92 minute for a second-yellow card.

The result sees Milan increase their lead over Inter at the summit of Serie A to five points with only seven games to go.

The Rossoneri made a dream start to the 154th Serie A Derby della Madonnina when they opened the scoring after only 42 seconds. Gattuso slid a defence-splitting pass through to Robinho who failed to round Julio Cesar but managed to knock the ball into the path of Pato who slammed home from six yards out.

The game continued to fly by at a frenetic pace and Milan in particular were impressing. A strong claim for a penalty was turned down by the referee, Nicola Rizzoli on nine minutes when Robinho met Ignazio Abate’s deep cross with a ferocious volley from 15 yards which was blocked by the arm of Maicon, but it was adjudged to be accidental.

Inter got their first real sight of goal on 19 minutes when Thiago Motta won the ball cleanly off Mark van Bommel before steaming forward and laying it off to Giampaolo Pazzini. The former Sampdoria man then powered past Gianluca Zambrotta before poking a low shot from 12 yards that was smartly blocked by Christian Abbiati.

The Rossoneri nearly doubled their lead on 37 minutes albeit with a slice of luck. Van Bommel struck a thunderbolt from 30 yards out which took a hefty deflection off Andrea Ranocchia, in the process wrong-footing Julio Cesar, but the ball cannoned off the top of the crossbar.

A minute later, the Nerazzurri thought they had levelled the scoring when Wesley Sneijder delivered an inviting corner which was met by the head of Motta on the six-yard line. 80,000 people in the San Siro believed an equaliser was inevitable only for Abbiati to somehow claw the ball to safety off the line, a wonderful save celebrated by the ‘keeper as if he had just scored the winning goal.

The second period resumed at an exciting pace although in the 53rd minute, Leonardo’s men were dealt a huge blow with the sending-off of Cristian Chivu. Pato was sent through clear on goal and with the Brazilian looking to lift the trigger on the edge of the box, the Romanian defender clipped his heels to send the Milan forward sprawling on the edge of the box. It left the referee with no alternative but to show the former Roma man the red card.

Thiago Silva blasted the resulting free-kick at goal but Julio Cesar parried the ball into the path of Kevin-Prince Boateng who could only fire high and wide of the goal.

Inter’s hopes of a comeback were all but extinguished on 62 minutes when Milan doubled their lead. Clarence Seedorf found Abate in plenty of space of down the flank and his shot-cum-cross was headed into the empty net by Pato from six-yards out for his 11th Serie A goal of the season.

It was nearly three on 66 minutes when substitute Mathieu Flamini found Robinho, who turned Ivan Cordoba before hitting a powerful effort towards goal that was expertly blocked by Julio Cesar.

Milan continued to lay siege to the Inter goal and should have put the result beyond doubt on 72 minutes when the terrific Seedorf did well to dispossess Ranocchia before sliding the ball to Robinho who despite his quick feet, could not beat Julio Cesar as he turned the ball around the post.

Inter’s night went from bad to worse when Javier Zanetti blocked off Antonio Cassano in the box on 89 minutes and a penalty was the oly outcome. The substitute stepped up to take the spotkick himself, calmly sending Julio Cesar the wrong way to give Milan a 3-0 lead.

Cassano was sent-off in the 92nd minute for a second yellow card for needlessly bringing down Cordoba in the final stages of the game.

Massimiliano Allegri’s men travel to Florence next weekend to play Fiorentina while Inter are back at the San Siro midweek for their Champions League quarter-final against Schalke.
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Bayern Munich 2-3 Inter (Agg 3-3)

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Inter overturned their first-leg loss at San Siro and a 3-1 aggregate deficit as they earned a last-gasp 3-2 victory over Bayern Munich and booked their spot in the Champions League quarter finals.

It took less than four minutes for Inter to get their away goal with a typical poacher’s finish by Samuel Eto’o after the Cameroon internation was played in by Goran Pandev. In the 21st minute, Bayern drew level with a little help from Julio Cesar, who spilled Arjen Robben’s long-range blast before Mario Gomez netted from a clever overhead kick.

Ten minutes later, Dejan Stankovic deflected Robben’s through ball into the path of Thomas Muller, who flicked his side into a 2-1 lead with the outside of his right foot.

The match changed considerably in the second half as Inter grew in confidence. Wesley Sneijder fired in a gorgeous daisy cutter on 63 minutes, and the looked to be more dangerous. Goran Pandev settled the tie on 88 minutes with a brilliant finish from the edge of the penalty area.

After struggling in the opening minutes, the hosts grew more confident following Gomez’s goal, and created more than enough clear chances to score a third. Franck Ribery skipped past Andrea Ranocchia on 35 minutes but Cesar atoned for his earlier mistake with a tremendous save.

Shortly thereafter, Gomez had his effort roll across the goal line before Ranocchia’s clearance deflected off the post. Robben was through on goal two minutes before the break, but only managed to hit the side netting.

For their part, Inter had enough opportunities to reclaim the lead, but Stankovic put his effort wide from the centre of the penalty box. Sneijder also came close from a free kick, but his dipping effort went harmlessly over the bar.

In the second half, the hosts were comparatively flat in attack, and Gomez’s saved volley on 62 minutes was their only real chance on goal to make it 3-2. Sneijder’s goal, coupled with Robben’s substitution on 68 minutes, marked the teams’ role reversal. On 67 minutes, Pandev fired over the bar, but the Macedonian made no mistake with his brilliantly struck winner.

The result sees Inter through to the quarter finals again as Serie A’s flagship team. Bayern crash out to Inter for the second consecutive year, and will be without silverware in 2011.

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Inter 5-2 Genoa: Super Second-Half From Nerazzurri Returns Gap At The Top To Five Points

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Inter produced an inspired second-half comeback to defeat Genoa 5-2 and reduce the gap to league-leaders Milan back to five points. Rodrigo Palacio and Mauro Boselli goals proved only consolations as Inter stormed into the lead with strikes from Giampaolo Pazzini, Samuel Eto’o (2), Goran Pandev, and Yuto Nagatomo.

Leonardo welcomed back Maicon from suspension, while Argentine trio Diego Milito, Esteban Cambiasso and Walter Samuel remained sidelined due to injury. Wesley Sneijder started in the hole behind strike duo Eto’o and Pazzini.

Meanwhile, following the heated 2-1 loss to Catania last week, Domenico Criscito, Antonio Floro Flores, and Miguel Veloso were suspended along with coach Davide Ballardini.

Eto’o looked lively early on and had a goal ruled out for offside after just nine minutes. Maicon had cut inside and split the Grifoni backline with a superb pass, but the Cameroon international was whistled offside after touching the ball past goalkeeper Eduardo.

After a succession of shots from Rodrigo Palacio and Juraj Kucka were blocked by the Nerazzurri defence, they flew the other way on the counter and Emiliano Moretti’s last-ditch tackle stopped Eto’o despite appeals for a penalty.

The visitors had a goal of their own ruled out. Alberto Paloschi’s toe-poke past Julio Cesar called back for offside.

Inter somehow failed to score on 25 minutes after Eto’o megged Dario Dainelli on the counter attack and flew into the area, squaring the ball for Pazzini, but it was just inches ahead of the Italian international with the goal at his mercy and the chance went begging.

It was Genoa’s turn to miss a golden chance soon after. Abdoulay Konko’s shot turned into a cross for the completely unmarked Paloshi, however, the former Parma player couldn’t turn the ball in from a tight angle with Inter’s defence all at sea.

The Grifoni took the lead toward the end of the first-half. Konko’s pass left the hosts exposed at the back and Palacio dribbled into the area before applying a precise and powerful finish across the ‘keeper and into the bottom corner.

The second-half began with Sneijder attempting a long-range missile similar to his goal against Sampdoria last week from a set-piece, but Eduardo palmed it around the post as Inter were determined to get back into the match.

It didn’t take long though, as Pazzini and Eto’o scored goals a minute apart to turn the match on it’s head. Maicon burst down the right and put in a pinpoint low cross for the Italian to fire into the top of the net to make it 1-1. With the match barely restarted, Eduardo made a complete howler of substitute Goran Pandev’s hit from outside the area which was tapped in by the African.

Eto’o completed his brace with nearly an hour gone to make it 3-1 and put the result beyond doubt. He pick-pocketed Giandomenico Mesto before bursting past two defenders and slotting the ball past Eduardo. Genoa had completely collapsed.

Inter’s fourth involved brilliant interchange between Sneijder, Eto’o, and finally Pandev taking advantage of Moretti’s failure to play the Macedonian offside with simple but quick passing on the edge ot the area for an easy tap-in.

Mauro Boselli nearly pulled one back on his Serie A debut, but curled just over the bar with Lucio and Andrea Ranocchia about to close him down. It was Ranocchia’s last action against his former team, coming off for Yuto Nagatomo.

Nagatomo delighted the crowd with his first goal for his new club. Two substitutes combined as Houssine Kharja tapped the ball to the Japanese left-back inside the area and he spun around the defender to apply a striker’s finish into the top corner.

Genoa found a late goal in vain, Boselli indeed getting on the board with a late header, but the Grifoni had been comprenhensively outplayed and it ended 5-2.

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Sampdoria 0:2 Inter

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