By David Rodich,
After losing on Saturday in the Serie A to Roma, Inter were looking to improve their form Tuesday against respectable German side Werder Bremen in the Champions League group stage. With the four teams of the group locked at one point a piece, it was important that the defending European champs assert their dominance. Faced with injuries sidelining Samuel, Zanetti, Motta, Materazzi, Pandev and Milito, the team needed its veterans to carry the weight and hoped for a spark from new starters Coutinho and Biabiany. They provided just that, breathing new life down the touchlines with Eto’o (photo) making a strong case for himself in the central striker role usually occupied by Milito.
The match started with both teams looking hungry for an opening goal. The earliest chances came to the visiting German side – first on a counter attack in which Almeida chipped the ball over Cesar, far out of his box, only to be eventually rejected by backtracking Lucio – then on a well rehearsed free kick play in which Almeida almost scored again. Werder Bremen must surely be kicking themselves over those missed chances because they didn’t see much of the Inter goal for the rest of the match, save for a few isolated chances.
Inter, on the hand, looked sharper and brighter than they’ve been all season. In the 7th minute the youngsters Biabiany and Coutinho almost combined for a goal when Biabiany sent a teasing cross to the corner of the 6-yard box for Coutinho who headed it wide of the post. The rest of the team seemed to respond to their energy, playing with a newfound gusto. They opened scoring in he 21st minute when Cambiasso poked away a Bremen midfield pass towards Eto’o who took the ball straight to goal, toe-poking it through the goalkeeper Wiese’s legs into the net. Just six minutes later the dynamic Cameroonian got his 2nd when he received a long aerial feed from Lucio, which he once again brought down and took directly to goal, slotting it coolly past Wiese. The striker stayed hungry, moving freely to facilitate the attack. In the 34th minute he dropped back into midfield to receive a pass and then fed a through ball to the overlapping Sneijder who finished with a world class chip over the goalkeeper’s head making the score a lopsided 3-0.
With Inter in such great form, the three-goal lead made the 2nd half simply a formality. Inter sat back, and only really attacked on the counter. One such burst downfield saw Sneijder feed a long through ball to Eto’o leaving him with only the goalie to beat, which he did with ease at the top of the box before practically walking the ball into the net. He followed with a celebration of his hat-trick by borrowing a reporter’s camera to snap some shots of the Inter playmaker and assist-man Sneijder.
It was refreshing to see the Nerazzurri attack, which has looked quite static as of late, come to life. The young players brought new attacking threats, and Eto’o showed his stock in front of goal.
The ever-smiling Cameroon national had this to say, “We had some important players out injured but the team played very well and the youngsters also did very well.” Adding, “this victory belongs to the whole team.”
Boss Benitez hit the nail on the head after the match saying, “We have a lot of young players and we have found the right balance with the rest of the team, with more experience.”
Inter hopes to maintain this balance in their upcoming weekend fixture against Juventus.