Adriano was on target to put FC Internazionale Milano in high spirits before the UEFA Champions League return against AFC Ajax, who also showed reasons for optimism at home despite being held.
FC Internazionale Milano 1-0 UC Sampdoria
Inter kept pace with city rivals AC Milan in the pursuit for Italy's second UEFA Champions League berth after Adriano scored the only goal of the game against UC Sampdoria on Saturday. Back from suspension, the Brazil striker ended a barren spell of eleven games without a goal, heading in Luís Figo's pinpoint cross five minutes before half-time at the San Siro. Inter controlled the game thereafter, with Adriano and Alvaro Recoba both being denied by the woodwork as the side made light of the absence of Marco Materazzi and Javier Zanetti due to bans.
Left-back Giuseppe Favalli also missed out with a thigh injury, while Juan Sebastián Verón returned after a month on the sidelines, although coach Roberto Mancini admitted the Argentinian midfielder took time to adjust. "We were in trouble during the first 15 minutes, probably because it was Verón's first game back. But we needed a great performance from the whole team in order to win because Sampdoria are a strong side. Thankfully, Adriano performed really well - he must keep it up."
AFC Ajax 0-0 PSV Eindhoven
Ajax saw their sequence of five consecutive Eredivisie victories come to an end at the Amsterdam ArenA on Saturday, but coach Danny Blind can take heart after they pushed league leaders PSV all the way. The visitors had goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes to thank after making several fine stops, as Steven Pienaar, Markus Rosenberg and Juanfran each failed to capitalise on fine opportunities. PSV also had their chances, with Timmy Simons coming closest with an effort that cannoned back off the post.
"We played good attacking football in the second half and created a few chances, but the ball just didn't want to go in," said Klaas Jan Huntelaar, whose own run of scoring in each of Ajax's last five games was also ended. "We weren't too distracted by the Inter match, but there's certainly more at stake there." Ajax earned the point despite over half a dozen absentees: Zdeněk Grygera (calf), John Heitinga (bruised kidney), Nicolae Mitea and Kenneth Vermeer (both knee), Wesley Sneijder (hamstring), Tomáš Galásek and Edgar Manucharyan (both thigh) all missed out.
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