Inter, Roma, Milan Through to the Next Round, Lazio Hanging on by a Thread (Champions League Matchday 5)

After Matchday 5 of the UEFA Champions League, out of the 4 Italian Serie A teams in contention in Europe’s top-flight competition, only Inter Milan, AS Roma, and AC Milan have managed to qualify for the playoffs round. While Inter and Roma went on to produce convincing wins on Tuesday, AC Milan had a little more trouble against a resolute Benfica side on Wednesday, but grabbed a tie that sends the Rossoneri through to the next round. Meanwhile, Lazio went on to lose at home in the Stadio Olimpico vs. Greek side Olympiakos, and will now need a miracle to have any real hopes of remaining in the competition.

Champions League Matchday 5 - Inter, Roma, Milan through to the next round, Lazio hanging on by a thread


Inter Milan 3-0 Fenerbahce

After the K.O. in Istanbul earlier this season (1-0 by goal of Deivid, the only defeat suffered by Inter this season along with the SuperCoppa loss to AS Roma), in what the Nerazzurri almost made seem like a “do-or-die” match, Inter had many objectives today and succedeed in all of them: get rid of their strongest opponents in the group, avenge their 1-0 defeat of matchday 1, and qualify for the next round of the competition. Talk about killing many birds with one stone…

Roberto Mancini started his team with a 4-4-2 diamond formation. Having to deal with the absence of Olivier Dacourt, the Inter coach opted for a Cristian Chivu-led defensive midfield and Dejan Stankovic (finally back from injury) operating as playmaker behind Zlatan and Cruz. However all the match needed were the first few minutes, to make everyone understand that on the other end, Zico’s Fenerbahce was a team which could potentially go well beyond the Round of 16: placed very close together on the field, with Aurelio and Sahin (chosen over Stephan Appiah) on task to disrup Inter’s game, and ready to create dangerous situations with Semih Senturk or Roberto Carlos on the wings. A dangerous opponent therefore, which coincidentally had already beaten the Nerazzurri on matchday 1.

Read the rest of the Inter Milan-Fenerbahce match report here


F.C. Internazionale Milano
[Match Highlights]
Fenerbahçe S.K.
GOALSCORERS: 55′ Cruz (I), 66′ Ibrahimovic (I), 90′ Jimenez (I)
INTER (4-3-1-2): Julio Cesar — Maicon, Cordoba, Samuel, Maxwell (72′ Jimenez) — J.Zanetti, Chivu, Cambiasso — Stankovic (88′ Materazzi) — Ibrahimovic (78′ Suazo), Cruz. (bench: Orlandoni, Solari, Dacourt, Crespo). Coach: Mancini.
FENERBAHCE (4-2-3-1): D.Volkan — Gokhan, Lugano, Edu, Roberto Carlos — Sahin, Aurelio (62′ Appiah) — Deivid (82′ Tumer), Alex, Vederson — Semih (66′ Kazim). (bench: B.Volkan, Cakmak, Onder, Bilgin). Coach: Zico


Dynamo Kiev 1-4 Roma

Roma’s performance today can be defined by two words: domination and qualification. The Giallorossi stepped onto the field in Kiev with the right mentality, using a mix of beautiful plays and cynicism (uncommon to the Giallorossi this season) to archive this match within the first 45 minutes. Max Tonetto was like a train on his left wing, and Mirko Vucinic is rapidly growing from his vice-Totti role to an irreplaceable piece of the Roma arsenal.

For the first half, it was a superhero tale for the Giallorossi: Super-Roma, and in particular Super-Panucci. The aging right-back is having quite the magical moment in his career: he scored the vital qualification goal vs. Scotland with the Azzurri (in the 90th), scored the winning Roma goal vs. Genoa this week-end (also in the 90th), and scored against Dynamo Kiev today… in the 4th? Huh? Going against the run of play here Panucci… No matter though because this goal, at the cost of not being vital, was equally beautiful and spearheaded the way to the Giallorossi victory today: on the right wing, a first cross by Christian Panucci was deflected by Goran Gavrancic, and gave the right-back another stab at it. His left-footed cross towards the far post actually turned into a direct shot in goal, with Vucinic fooling the keeper with what seemed to be a slight touch (replays showed no one actually hit the ball). 1-0 Roma.

Read the rest of the Dynamo Kiev-Roma match report here


FC Dynamo Kyiv
[Match Highlights]
A.S. Roma
GOALSCORERS: 4′ Panucci (R), 32′ Giuly (R), 36′, 78′ Vucinic (R), 63′ Bangoura (D)
DYNAMO KIEV (4-1-4-1): Rybka — Dopilka, Gavrancic, Vashchuk, Nesmachniy; Ghioane — Gusev, Ninkovic (55′ Shatskikh), Rincon (69′ Milevskyy), Rotan (46′ Belkevich) — Bangoura. (bench: Lutsenko, Markovic, Fedorov, Correa). Coach: Demanienko.
ROMA (4-2-3-1): Doni — Panucci, Ferrari, Juan, Cassetti — Pizarro, De Rossi (60′ Barusso) — Taddei (46′ Esposito), Giuly, Tonetto — Vucinic (84′ Cicinho). (bench: Curci, Antunes, Pit, Mançini). Coach: Spalletti.


Benfica 1-1 AC Milan

One of the ugliest AC Milans of the season grabs the points it neeeded, through 90 minutes (almost) of Lisbon suffering. The 1-1 final score is enough to send the Rossoneri through to the Last 16, but boy was this a hard game for Carlo Ancelotti: the Italian coach’s facial expressions during this match (along with those of Adriano Galliani) were an entire spectacle by themselves.

The whole gameplan of the Rossoneri for this match, given the must-win situation of the Portuguese club, was to score an early goal and then spend the remaining 70-80 minutes controlling the game. They almost got their wish, because 15 minutes into the game Andrea Pirlo struck gold: obtainining the ball from 30m, the Milan playmaker took a few steps then let a ripping shot sink into the right-bottom corner of the net. Awesome delivery by Pirlo, and 1-0 Milan.

Read the rest of the Benfica-AC Milan match report here


 S.L. Benfica
[Match Highlights]
 AC Milan
GOALSCORERS: 15′ Pirlo (M), 20′ Maxi Pereira (B)
BENFICA (4-2-3-1): Quim — Luis Felipe (75′ Di Maria), Luisao, David Luiz (88′ Adu), Leo — Katsouranis, Petit — Maxi Pereira, Rui Costa, C.Rodríguez — Nuno Gomes (75′ O.Cardozo). (bench: Butt, Edcarlos, Nelson, Nuno Assis). All: Camacho.
MILAN (4-3-2-1): Dida — Bonera, Nesta, Kaladze, Serginho (46′ Maldini) — Brocchi (51′ Gourcuff), Pirlo, Gattuso — Kaká, Seedorf (73′ Oddo) — Gilardino. (bench: Kalac, Cafu, Favalli, Ronaldo). Coach: Ancelotti.


Lazio 1-2 Olympiakos

In the other match of the day, Lazio lost at home against Olympiakos, and are now seeing the next round of the Champions League sail far far away. And to think that everything started on the right track for the Biancocelesti, who had gotten the lead thanks to Goran Pandev. However, the Lazio train rapidly derailed, because the Greek team had left the goals of Luciano Galletti and Darko Kovacevic on the Rome station tracks. A Kovacevic who coincidentally, not so long ago, was playing precisely for… Lazio.

It became rapidly obvious that this was going to turn into a very nervous match, way too nervous to expect to see any beautiful plays really. Both teams multiplied errors in the offensive zone, scared of trying one-touch football for fear of losing the ball and leaving the defense exposed. This match was too important to be lost, for Olympiakos in particular because the Greeks would have been quite happy with a draw in the end, given that their opponents on the last matchday were Werder Bremen at home, while Lazio had to contend with Real Madrid in Spain. As a result, very little happened for the first half hour, Stefano Rocchi and Goran Pandev way too isolated in the Lazio attack.

Read the rest of the Lazio-Olympiakos match report here


S.S. Lazio
[Match Highlights]
 Olympiacos CFP
GOALSCORERS: 30′ Pandev (L), 35′ Galletti (O), 64′ Kovacevic (O)
LAZIO (4-3-1-2): Ballotta — Behrami (77′ Scaloni), Stendardo, Siviglia, Kolarov (63′ De Silvestri) — Mudingayi, Ledesma, Mutarelli (71′ Meghni) — Mauri — Pandev, Rocchi. (bench: Muslera, Firmani, Manfredini, Makinwa). Coach: Rossi.
OLYMPIAKOS (4-3-2-1): Nikopolidis — Torosidis, Zewlakow, Antzas, Pantos — Patsatzoglou (75′ Mendrinos), Ledesma, Stoltidis — Galletti, Djordjevic (93′ Mitroglou) — Lua Lua (56′ Kovacevic). (bench: Sifakis, Archubi, Nunez, Konstantinou). Coach: Lemonis.

.Marco Pantanella writes on the mCalcio blog

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