Two weeks ago Julio Cruz scored his club's quickest goal in the UEFA Champions League when finding the net for FC Internazionale Milano after 60 seconds of the 2-1 win against FC Spartak Moskva. As the two sides faced each other again in Moscow yesterday, the Argentinian striker beat his own record by scoring the only goal of the game 59 seconds from kick-off.
It was the 16th goal in the UEFA Champions League for 'El Jardinero'. "I was a bit lucky because you do not get opportunities to score so quickly every day," he said. "However, I always try to be ready and to give my best, especially when I'm close to the opponents' goal. I'm really happy to have helped Inter to such an important victory"
With Adriano on leave in Brazil, Alvaro Recoba injured and Hernán Crespo tired after the 4-3 victory against AC Milan in Saturday's derby, Cruz and Zlatan Ibrahimović were the only forwards Roberto Mancini could only count on against Spartak. "Ibra always listens to me," Cruz said. "He gave me a great ball for my goal but we found each other very well during the whole game. However, I think the whole team played well. We played exactly as a big team should play in a must-win game."
Last season, Cruz scored 15 goals in 31 Serie A games and four in six UEFA Champions League appearances and was Inter's top scorer despite mostly being deployed as a substitute. This season he has played from the start of only three games - twice against Spartak and once against AS Livorno Calcio in Serie A - and has already scored four goals, one every 79 minutes on average. "He is a serious lad, he works hard and never complains if he is not playing," Mancini said. "He deserves all the plaudits."
None the less, every summer the 32-year-old striker is linked with a move away from Milan. "I feel great here at Inter," the former Bologna FC player said. "Maybe I'm not playing all the time but I feel the trust of everyone at the club and this is very important." If he keeps on scoring as he did against Spartak, it will be difficult for Mancini not to consider Cruz a first-choice in attack. Incidentally, the fastest goal in UEFA Champions League history was scored by Gilberto of Arsenal FC, who found the target after 20.06 seconds of his side's 4-0 win at PSV Eindhoven on 25 September 2002.
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