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Sneijder strike takes Inter into semis

Published: Tuesday 6 April 2010, 20.30CET
PFC CSKA Moskva 0-1 FC Internazionale Milano (agg: 0-2)
An early free-kick from Wesley Sneijder effectively settled the tie and sent Inter into their first semi-final since 2003.
by Paul Saffer

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Published: Tuesday 6 April 2010, 20.30CET

Sneijder strike takes Inter into semis

PFC CSKA Moskva 0-1 FC Internazionale Milano (agg: 0-2)
An early free-kick from Wesley Sneijder effectively settled the tie and sent Inter into their first semi-final since 2003.

Wesley Sneijder's early free-kick was the key to FC Internazionale Milano ending their seven-year wait to return to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals.

Already a goal down from last week's trip to Milan, PFC CSKA Moskva were left needing to score three after Sneijder, a doubt before kick-off with an ankle injury, found the target. A CSKA comeback never looked likely, especially after substitute Chidi Odiah's 49th-minute red card, and Inter take on familair opponents from the group stage, holders FC Barcelona, on 20 and 28 April with the first leg at home.

The suspensions of Evgeni Aldonin and the hugely influential Miloš Krasić meant starts for Mark González and Alan Dzagoev with Keisuke Honda moved into a defensive midfield position but that did not stop the Japanese international having an early effort just wide. However, just six minutes were on the clock when Inter broke the deadlock, Sneijder sending a low free-kick beneath the leaping Honda and past the bamboozled Igor Akinfeev.

That was a cue for an early CSKA change with Odiah replacing Vasili Berezutski, who had hurt his leg in the warm-up. Odiah had the freedom to push forward and found Tomaš Necid on the edge of the box to put a shot just past the post.

CSKA were certainly pressing an Inter defence strengthened by the return of Lucio after a first-leg suspension and restricting their hosts to long-range efforts, notably several Honda free-kicks that sailed over and an Odiah effort that Júlio César was forced to tip wide. One flowing move set Dzagoev free in the box but he slipped, allowing Inter to break and first-leg goalscorer Diego Milito to test Akinfeev.

Only four minutes into the second half, CSKA's task was made harder when Odiah's foul on Samuel Eto'o earned the substitute a second yellow card. Still the home side were doing more of the attacking and they came close when Honda cross from the right just eluded the overhead kick of Dzagoev but fell nicely to González, whose effort was matched by Júlio César's save.

Gradually, though, the ten men of CSKA seemed to tire and Inter began to have chances. Akinfeev denied Sneijder from distance and moments later produced an excellent diving stop to block Dejan Stanković's swerving drive. Milito then shot straight at the goalkeeper and soon after was sent clear only for Akinfeev to again stand firm.

Mario Balotelli replaced Milito as Inter became more and more dominant, CSKA coach Leonid Slutsky trying to refresh things by bringing on Elvir Rahimić for Honda. Stanković shot fractionally wide and Sergei Ignashevich's last-gasp tackle denied Eto'o as he jinked into a goalscoring position, but the tie was already secure for the visitors.

Last updated: 27/11/12 3.40CET

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