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Goals in either half from Rodrigo Palacio steered FC Internazionale Milano to a 2-0 victory against CFR 1907 Cluj in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League round of 32 tie at San Siro.
The three-time UEFA Cup winners were rewarded with the lead their possession merited when substitute Palacio broke the deadlock after 20 minutes. CFR's response was spirited, and while both teams proceeded to spurn good opportunities, Inter's European experience prevailed when the Argentina forward struck for a second time with three minutes remaining.
The Nerazzurri suffered an early blow when Diego Milito was forced off with a knee injury, though few could have foreseen the positive consequences. Indeed, his replacement Palacio soon made a decisive contribution, latching onto Fredy Guarín's defence-splitting pass and lifting the ball over onrushing goalkeeper Mário Felgueiras.
Unperturbed, the visitors almost drew level when Robert Maah failed to connect with Camora's cross from the left, while at the other end Palacio misfired following Antonio Cassano's visionary pass. CFR full-back Ionuţ Rada almost finished the half on a high as his sweetly struck free-kick stung the fingertips of Samir Handanovič.
Andrea Stramaccioni's side emerged after the break in buoyant mood and could have doubled their advantage when Palacio collected Esteban Cambiasso's clever back-heel, before being snuffed out by Vasile Maftei. The 31-year-old made amends shortly before the close, taking receipt of Mateo Kovačić's through ball and rifling unerringly past Felgueiras to mark his fifth goal in four UEFA Europa League outings.
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