A superb display from Adriano gave FC Internazionale Milano a valuable lead against FC Shakhtar Donetsk in their UEFA Champions League third qualifying round tie.
The Brazilian international provided a sublime assist for Obafemi Martins to open the scoring in the 68th minute of this first-leg match before heading the second goal of the night shortly afterwards. The Italian side had several clear chances during the opening half and were unlucky to see Marco Materazzi's effort come back off the woodwork five minutes before the break.
Century of matches
Indeed, with coach Roberto Mancini fielding two new signings in goalkeeper Julio Cesar and midfield player Santiago Solari, Inter looked particularly keen to prove their supremacy in this, their 100th game in the European Champion Clubs' Cup.
Nevertheless, they faced some initial resistance from the Ukrainian Premier League champions, who were the more threatening team in the early stages. First, Brazilian striker Brandão sent a powerful header narrowly wide of Inter's far post. Then, on 18 minutes, Julio Cesar was forced to dive to his right to keep out Anatoliy Tymoschuk's free-kick.
However, the visitors gradually increased the tempo and twice came close to breaking the deadlock. Shakhtar goalkeeper Jan Laštuvka was forced to come off his line to clear a dangerous ball inside his area with Dejan Stankovic ready to score. Then it was from a Stankovic assist that Martins had a wonderful opportunity to register but the Nigerian forward failed to find the target.
Laštuvka to the rescue
Ten minutes before the break, Laštuvka was made to stretch to block Esteban Cambiasso's close-range shot with his left leg and moments later Materazzi's header rebounded off the post. Shortly after the restart, Inter defender Iván Córdoba had to make amends for giving the ball away with a fine clearance that denied Brandão a clear sight of goal.
With 66 minutes played, Mancini made his first substitution with Zé Maria replacing Solari. And two minutes later, Inter's exertions finally paid dividends, a double-marked Adriano producing a back-heeled pass to find Martins inside the box and the latter edging past a defender to shoot beyond Laštuvka.
It was not long before the Nerazzurri increased their advantage. Adriano latched on to Zé Maria's cross to make it 2-0, and the Brazilian international may have added to that tally with one minute remaining but his left-footed strike was saved by Laštuvka.