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Zárate winner gets Inter going at CSKA

PFC CSKA Moskva 2-3 FC Internazionale Milano
Claudio Ranieri's first European game at the Inter helm ended in victory after Mauro Zárate's effort settled a topsy-turvy Group B encounter.

Lúcio's deflected strike set Inter on their way early on
Lúcio's deflected strike set Inter on their way early on ©Getty Images

A late winner from substitute Mauro Zárate settled a thrilling contest in FC Internazionale Milano's favour as the Nerazzurri won 3-2 away to PFC CSKA Moskva.

After recovering from two goals down for the second Group B game in succession, the hosts seemed set for a point until Zárate received Esteban Cambiasso's pass and fired past Vladimir Gabulov with 11 minutes left. Vágner Love had drawn CSKA level two minutes earlier, adding to Alan Dzagoev's first-half free-kick, after goals in the opening 23 minutes from Lúcio and Giampaolo Pazzini had put Claudio Ranieri's new charges firmly in the ascendancy.

Having not scored in 56 games for club and country prior to Saturday's defeat of Bologna FC, Lúcio swiftly made it two goals in as many matches. Ricardo Álvarez – on his first start for Inter − delivered a corner which skipped off the head of Vasili Berezutski and, with Gabulov out of position, enabled the defender to finish via the chest of Sergei Ignashevich.

Pazzini had the shot which forced that set piece and was soon causing more problems with his movement, finding space down the Inter right and standing up a cross to the far post from which the sprawling Gabulov kept out Joel Obi's header.

If that was a let-off, CSKA were not so fortunate midway through the first half. Ranieri's side, getting plenty of joy down either flank, doubled their lead when the sprightly Pazzini turned in Yuto Nagatomo's centre, the right-back having nutmegged Aleksei Berezutski before driving the ball across goal.

Having previously brought the best out of Júlio César, Dzagoev threw CSKA a lifeline by curling a free-kick over wall and goalkeeper in added time. The hosts picked up where they had left off after the break, with Pavel Mamaev curling a shot narrowly wide of the left-hand post, before a swift Inter break culminated in Zárate testing Gabulov.

As the game became stretched, opportunities came and went at either end, with Gabulov again in the thick of things to deny Diego Milito and Vágner Love flashing a ball across the penalty area from the byline. A goal was coming; it was just a question of which way.

Vágner Love provided the answer 13 minutes from time, stepping inside Lúcio and shooting past Júlio César, but CSKA's jubilation soon turned to despair as Zárate delivered a devastating riposte to banish the blues from the shock loss to Trabzonspor AŞ two weeks ago.

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