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Twente push champions Inter to the limit

FC Twente 2-2 FC Internazionale Milano
The competition newcomers earned a deserved point after holding the champions to a draw in an exciting Group A opener.

Twente push champions Inter to the limit
Twente push champions Inter to the limit ©UEFA.com

FC Internazionale Milano kicked off the defence of their UEFA Champions League title with a 2-2 draw at FC Twente in Group A as the newcomers pushed the holders to the limit.

In a breathtaking first half Theo Janssen cancelled out Wesley Sneijder's early opener with a terrific free-kick on 20 minutes before the Dutch champions went ahead through Diego Milito's own goal soon after. The Nerazzurri hit back through Samuel Eto'o four minutes before the break and had the upper hand in the second half, but Twente deservedly held on for a point.

New Inter coach Rafael Benítez introduced just one new face, MacDonald Mariga, to the starting XI that beat FC Bayern München in last May's final. In contrast, the entire Twente side that started had made only one previous UEFA Champions League appearance between them. That was goalkeeper Nikolay Mihaylov who was soon picking the ball out of his net. On 13 minutes Milito, scorer of both final goals, burst clear and though his shot was parried the ball fell to Dutch international Sneijder who fired in the rebound.

It was hard on Twente who had started well, with the height of Luuk de Jong and Marc Janko causing problems. The latter played a key role in Twente's equaliser, winning a free-kick on the edge of the D on 20 minutes which Janssen brilliantly curled into the top left corner. Roared on by their terrific support, Twente pressed and Júlio César tipped away another Janssen free-kick before the home side struck again on 30 minutes when Milito headed Janssen's corner into his own goal.

Inter rallied and Esteban Cambiasso hit the bar then Eto'o drew the champions level, shooting low past Mihaylov from the edge of the area after a neat one-two with Goran Pandev. Janko nearly restored Twente's lead with a header in added time, but after that the pace slowed in the swirling rain.

Substitute Coutinho came close to breaking the deadlock on 67 minutes but his low shot was blocked by Dwight Tiendalli. Seven minutes later the Brazilian teed up Mariga who pulled his effort wide. With Sneijder increasingly influential Inter took the game to Twente in the latter stages, with the home side looking to catch the Italian champions on the break. A draw, though, proved a fair result as Twente took the step up to Europe's premier competition in their stride.