Sporting Clube de Portugal 0-0 Internazionale FC
Internazionale FC emerged the happier party from their UEFA Champions League third qualifying round first-leg match against Sporting Clube de Portugal as they held their hosts to a scoreless draw in Lisbon.
The result at the José Alvalade stadium means the Italian side will have a narrow advantage in the return leg on 27 August. A solitary strike will be enough at the San Siro, although Inter would have been happier with an away goal to defend.
Although neither side managed to score tonight, perhaps indicative of the absence of Ronaldo and Mario Jardel for Inter and Sporting respectively, the encounter was not lacking in goalscoring incidents. The best opportunity fell Inter's way in the 65th minute when Domenico Morfeo seemed certain to score only for Pablo Contreras to tackle him inside the five-metre box before clearing the ball to safety.
Tiago on hand
Sporting had opened brightly and César Prates almost gave Laszlo Bölöni's side the ideal start after eleven minutes, but his shot from outside the penalty area angled narrowly over the crossbar. The Italian side then responded with their best chance of the half after 20 minutes, but Sporting goalkeeper Tiago denied Christian Vieri and Morfeo in quick succession before Mohamed Kallon had his shot blocked and Sérgio Conceição fired over from five metres in a frantic spell inside the Portuguese team's penalty area.
Overall, the home side continued to pose the more potent attacking threat, with Marius Niculae going close with a low shot from outside the penalty area after 25 minutes, while Inter keeper Francesco Toldo had to race from his line to deny Pedro Barbosa on the stroke of half time after the Sporting captain dribbled past four defenders. Barbosa again tested Toldo shortly after the interval from 20 metres, but the Italian international managed to turn the ball around the post.
Inter finished the match strongly though, and a sign of things to come in the return was evident in the last eight minutes as Alvaro Recoba shot narrowly wide, Vieri missed the ball with the net gaping from five metres and Matías Almeyda forced a save from Tiago with a shot from outside the box.
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