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FC Internazionale Milano are through to the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds after second-half strikes by Julio Cruz, Zlatan Ibrahimović and Luis Antonio Jiménez ended Fenerbahçe SK's unbeaten run.
Those assured finishes confirmed Inter as Group G winners with a match to spare after what was their fourth straight victory following the Matchday 1 loss in Istanbul. Fenerbahçe remain second but must win at home to PFC CSKA Moskva in a fortnight to ensure PSV Eindhoven cannot overtake them with three points at home to Inter.
On Inter coach Roberto Mancini's 43rd birthday, his Fenerbahçe counterpart Zico had said he was hoping for a present from CSKA; had they avoided defeat by PSV in the early kick-off, both the Italian and the Turkish champions would have been through. Instead PSV triumphed in Moscow to raise the stakes in Milan where only victory would guarantee either side's progress.
The Nerazzurri's recent injury crisis was partially eased by the return of Dejan Stanković and he soon threaded a clever ball through to Julio Cruz, who stretched to find Maxwell on the left. The Brazilian's cross was met by Ibrahimović only for his shot to be blocked by Edu. Stanković was also at the end of a right-wing centre by Javier Zanetti 13 minutes in, but the Serbia midfielder failed to direct it goalwards.
Although the pace of Gökçek Vederson and Gökan Gönül on both flanks made the visitors threatening on the break, they were largely reduced to long shots. Vederson and Roberto Carlos scarcely troubled Júlio César with hopeful attempts. It was another South American, Cruz, who dragged his shot from 18 metres across goal on 28 minutes. Stanković followed suit with a similar effort on the half-hour, moments after Selçuk Şahin had turned Ibrahimović's low delivery over his own crossbar as the locals began to turn the screw.
Ten minutes after the restart, Mancini's team menaced again as Ibrahimović supplied Cruz on the left and the No9 curled a right-footed strike just over. The Süper Lig side almost caught Inter cold when Alex was left unmarked in the area but the playmaker sent his shot wide and would rue the missed chance. Maxwell, receiving possession on the left, raced to the byline and centred for Cruz, who just got his head to the ball as Edu attempted to clear. Advantage Inter.
The noise from the 5,000 away fans behind Volkan Demirel's goal had been stilled and there was even less for them to cheer midway through the second half when Ibrahimović made it 2-0. The danger again came from the left, this time through Cristian Chivu, whose cross was left by Cruz and controlled by the Swedish international at the far post. He had time to pick his spot to become the first player to reach five UEFA Champions League goals this season. Midfielder Jiménez then came off the bench for his second tournament appearance and added a maiden goal as a further gift for Mancini.
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