Champions League

Inter Milan beats Rubin Kazan to advance

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Inter Milan advanced to the knockout round of the Champions League after Samuel Eto'o and Mario Balotelli scored either side of halftime to secure a 2-0 win over Rubin Kazan on Wednesday.
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Inter finished second in Group F behind Barcelona, after the defending European champion beat Dynamo Kiev 2-1. Kazan would have advanced with a win, but finished third and will play in the Europa League. Kiev was last with five points. "Last year we qualified early from the group and ended with two losses and seven points," Inter coach Jose Mourinho said. "This time we've ended with a win and taken nine points from a tougher group. "We have six possible opponents in the draw. We can draw an English team and we know they are difficult because they have a totally different style to us. Or it could be one of two Spanish sides; Real Madrid or Sevilla or even the French team, Bordeaux." Eto'o was set up by Javier Zanetti's and Balotelli's exchange of passes in the 30th minute. Balotelli then fired home a long-range free kick to seal the result in the 63rd. It was an impressive performance from the striker following recent arguments with Mourinho over his role. "I am satisfied for the team and Mario Balotelli is part of the team," Mourinho said. "I hope Mario Balotelli takes the same attitude with him every time he takes the field." Inter had the opening chance of the match in the eighth minute. Thiago Motta slipped the ball to Balotelli, who turned on the edge of the penalty area but shot straight at Kazan goalkeeper Sergei Ryzhikov. Ten minutes later Gokdeniz Karadeniz forced Inter stopper Julio Cesar into a sharp save at his near post with a low drive, after Christian Noboa had split the Inter defense with a throughball. Inter captain Zanetti started the move that led to the opening goal in the 30th. The Argentine wiggled along the left goal-line and cut the ball back to Balotelli. The striker backheeled the ball farther into the area and Eto'o hammered the ball home from close range. Just before halftime Maicon came close to doubling Inter's lead. Eto'o cut the ball back to him on the edge of the area, but Ryzhikov turned away his powerful long-range drive. "They are an attacking team and we needed to be the more attacking to win," Mourinho said. "They trusted each other and they had the right attitude for a match of this importance." Kazan had the first chance of the second period, five minutes after the break. From a corner Alejandro Dominguez found Karadeniz unmarked on the edge of the area, but he blasted high and wide despite having time to get his shot on target. "Just for us to be in the Champions League is a big step forward for our team and our football," Kazan coach Kurban Berdyev said. "To be competitive in a group containing Barcelona, Inter and Dynamo Kiev is a great satisfaction for us." Substitute Esteban Cambiasso drew a save from Ryzhikov after he had shot from the edge of the box in the 59th, and Balotelli then dragged a shot wide two minutes later. However, the young striker doubled Inter's lead in the 63rd, firing a free kick over the wall and past Ryzhikov. A minute later Balotelli should have added his second, but slid his shot wide after Diego Milito had picked him out at the far post with a low cross. Wesley Sneijder hit a post after linking up with Balotelli and Milito in the 73rd and Eto'o went close with an injury time free kick.


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