Ever since winning the continental treble in the 2009-10 season – lifting Italy’s Serie A championship, the Italian cup and the UEFA Champions League – Inter Milan has been on an inexorable slide. Things only seem to get worse for them.
On Sunday, they lost their losers’ bracket semifinal game of the International Champions Cup here to Valencia 4-0; three days prior, they were overrun 2-0 by Chelsea. Their second consecutive loss now relegates them to the eight-team tournament’s seventh-place game against Juventus in Miami on Tuesday.
In an entertaining first half, Valencia quickly and rightly took the lead. In just the seventh minute, Argentinian playmaker Ever Banega cut through the heart of Inter’s defense, carved open a little room to move into and ripped a swerving right-footed shot into the upper right corner with his right foot from 30 or so yards. Not long thereafter, Banega, who was a terror to anybody with an interest in obtaining the ball from him, served one up of his left foot that was tipped over.
A technical and attacking Valencia side ran at Inter throughout the half, making the play and most of the chances. Inter’s bread and butter, as it has been for half a century, was the counter attack. That’s how the impressive Fredy Guarin forged their biggest chance of the half: in the 16th minute, he diced up the Spanish box, but dragged his against-the-grain shot just past the far post.
But Valencia was simply superior, and would double their lead in the 34th minute. Following a dangerous lash from distance by Michel Herrero, which Samir Handanovic saved well, Valencia won a corner. Banega’s delivery was headed clear but fell to Jonathan Viera, whose rip was slightly deflected by Marco Andreolli, before sailing into the net.
Inter rallied somewhat in the second half, but the game had already been put out of reach. In the 57th minute, after he had already knocked a header onto the post, substitute Jonas received the ball from Viera and easily rounded Handanovic to roll the ball into an empty net. Valencia would get a goal disallowed thereafter. Only then did Inter start playing, establishing more of a presence in midfield and plying their strikers with more service.
It was for naught. To add insult to injury, Valencia made it 4-0 in the 90th minute, when Jonas’s shot was saved well by Handanovic, but Viera was left unmarked to whip in the rebound.
Valencia, which dropped its tournament opener to AC Milan 2-1, will play either in Tuesday’s fifth-place game or Wednesday’s third-place game, depending on the result of Milan-Chelsea later on Sunday. And Inter? The proud blue-and-black Milanese club was left black and blue, again.