By Paolo Menicucci at San Siro
FC Internazionale reached the group stage of the UEFA Champions League with a comfortable 4-1 victory against Swiss champions FC Basel 1893 at the San Siro, completing a 5-2 aggregate triumph.
Inter coach Roberto Mancini opted to make only one change to the side that drew 1-1 in Switzerland in the first leg of the third qualifying round two weeks ago, with Edgar Davids coming into the side instead of Esteban Cambiasso and Alvaro Recoba confirmed in attack alongside Brazilian striker Adriano.
Basel coach Christian Gross preferred Mile Sterjovski to Mattias Emilio Delgado in midfield and confirmed Argentinian forward Julio Hernán Rossi alongside his fellow countryman Christian Giménez in attack.
Inter were quickly into their stride, with Recoba forcing Basel goalkeeper Pascal Zuberbühler into a good save a few seconds after kick-off. The home fans, however, had to wait just a few seconds more to celebrate as Adriano fired Inter ahead with a precise low shot inside the far post after a perfect defence-splitting pass by Dejan Stankovic.
Inter continued to control the game and scored the second goal after 13 minutes with a superb right-foot shot by Stankovic after a nice one-two combination with Adriano. But despite the two-goal lead, the home side refused to sit back and Zuberbühler had to make another good save from a left-foot shot by Recoba from long distance.
Francesco Toldo deflected wide a powerful free-kick by Basel captain Murat Yakin after 26 minutes but Inter went close to scoring a third goal five minutes later when Stankovic shot wide from a good position after a neat combination between Zè Maria and Adriano on the right flank. The Swiss side had another dangerous free-kick just before the break, but Mario Cantaluppi's shot finished just wide.
Basel climbed back into the reckoning four minutes into the second half when Sterjovski controlled a cross from the left inside the penalty box, dribbled past Stankovic and scored with a precise right-foot shot. Inter, however, restored their two-goal lead four minutes later when Adriano received the ball from Stankovic outside the penalty box, took a few steps and fired in another wonderful low shot with his left foot.
The home side scored again a few minutes later to seal victory, this time Recoba's left boot doing the damage. The Uruguayan forward received a long pass from Juan Sebastián Veron, turned towards Basel's goal and shot in from 18 metres.