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Timely Samuel takes Inter past CSKA

PFC CSKA Moskva 1-2 FC Internazionale Milano Walter Samuel's first UEFA Champions League goal earned Inter a valuable comeback win in Moscow.

Walter Samuel's first UEFA Champions League goal earned FC Internazionale Milano an invaluable comeback victory at PFC CSKA Moskva.

Late drama
Jô had given CSKA a deserved half-time lead but injuries weakened the home team and Hernán Crespo equalised early in the second half. Inter were edging an open game though there was a touch of fortune about their winner on 80 minutes – Luís Figo's free-kick was headed straight at Veniamin Mandrykin by Samuel but the goalkeeper allowed the ball to slip through his grasp.

Vieira injured
Figo had become the sixth player to make 100 UEFA Champions League appearances yet on 17 minutes he lost midfield colleague Patrick Vieira, who limped off to be replaced by Dejan Stanković. CSKA, despite the absence of Vágner Love due to recent exertions with Brazil, had made the better start and on the half-hour they really picked up their play. There was a warning for Inter when Figo was tackled by Yuri Zhirkov and the ball fell to Dudu, who shot just wide. Two minutes later, CSKA made the breakthrough – Miloš Krasić supplied Daniel Carvalho, recently returned from a long-term knee injury, and the playmaker found Jô, who bamboozled Iván Córdoba before brilliantly chipping goalkeeper Júlio César.

Persistence
Figo sought to celebrate his century by making an equaliser as his fine right-wing cross was flicked on by Crespo, but Zlatan Ibrahimović was off target with his diving header. At the other end, Evgeni Aldonin was sent clear but Samuel's persistent presence prompted a weak shot straight at César. The first half ended unhappily for the Russian title-holders, however, as first Dudu was forced off with an ankle injury and then Aleksei Berezutski departed with a nasty gash in his left leg. Eduardo and Anton Grigoriev came on, and the reshuffled CSKA defence nearly conceded when Sergei Ignashevich's clearance hit Vasili Berezutski and had to be saved by Mandrykin.

Equaliser
The CSKA goalkeeper was beaten, though, within seven minutes of the restart. A clearance was nodded back towards the penalty area by Esteban Cambiasso and inadvertently touched on by Krasić, allowing the grateful Crespo to pounce. Inter were having the better of the play now, although Carvalho nearly carved out a goal as his free-kick was met by the head of Elvir Rahimić whose effort failed to get past César.

Samuel joy
Julio Cruz replaced Crespo just after the hour and the substitute twice threatened, nodding wide and then having a shot blocked, while Jô's angled attempt deflected wide. Rahimić was also denied when his header from a Carvalho centre was cleared off the line – and that proved a crucial moment as not long afterwards Samuel ended a 43-game wait for a UEFA Champions League goal, to Mandrykin's horror. Carvalho went close late on, yet his team remain on one point while Inter have six and know a home victory against CSKA in a fortnight would take them out of reach of the Moscow side.