Hernán Crespo was thrilled as his goal helped FC Internazionale Milano qualify for the knockout stage with a win in "the last of three consecutive finals".
Having lost their first two UEFA Champions League Group B games, Inter faced an uphill task to qualify, but back-to-back wins against FC Spartak Moskva followed by last night's 1-0 victory at home against Sporting Clube de Portugal have guaranteed them a place in the last 16. "Sporting knew that a draw suited them but it certainly didn't suit us," he told uefa.com. "We're really pleased to have won this final because that's what it was - it was the last of three consecutive finals. We knew that we needed to win every one and thankfully that's what we managed to do so we're happy."
End of drought
Crespo's powerful 36th-minute half-volley was the 31-year-old's first goal in the competition since scoring for Chelsea FC against RSC Anderlecht on 23 November 2005 and the Argentinian international was glad to have ended the drought, not that he was aware there had been one. "Just as well," he said. "I'm a bit aghast actually because I didn't know it had been as long as that but I'm delighted to have scored a goal in such a crucial match."
Inter now face FC Bayern München on Matchday 6 relieved of the pressure of needing to qualify and Crespo is confident of turning the tables on the German club, who beat them 2-0 at San Siro on Matchday 2. "The first two games went badly but we knew it was in our hands to get out of trouble and we managed to pull through," he said. "We played really well home and away against Spartak and we managed to take full advantage of this opportunity at home tonight so now we can go to Munich with a more settled frame of mind. We might even spring a nice little surprise on Bayern and finish first in the group."
Dejan Stanković, who set up the goal with an arcing pass over the defence, paid tribute to his team-mate's finishing. "We tried to break through in lots of ways, we tried long balls, short balls, everything, but in the end Hernán got a goal that was priceless for us," said the Serbian. "Now people are beginning to see the real Inter. We've bounced back from two defeats with three wins and we're playing with pride and character. We're growing as a team, we're more mature and we've now found our balance, which is very, very important."
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