16.09.09 / 22:49

Champions League: Inter 0-0 Barcelona

All square in Milan as Nerazzurri battle tenaciously against defending European champions

MILAN -  Inter played out a goalless draw reigning European champions Barcelona in their opening match of the 2009/10 Champions League.

The Nerazzurri produced a solid display at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, keeping the Catalans at bay with some staunch defending and hitting them on the break with some lightning fast counter-attacks.

Mourinho, who announced ten of his eleven starters in the pre-match press conference, gave Sulley Muntari the nod ahead of Dejan Stankovic and the Ghanaian posed a threat down the left wing before he made way for the Serbian early in the second half.

The early chances of the Group F opener were Barça's. Messi had a close-range header saved by Julio Cesar, who kept out a Xavi effort after Daniel Alves and Ibrahimovic wasted good opportunities for the visitors.

Inter stepped up the tempo on the half hour and Milito saw his crisp shot blocked Valdes, before Sneijder rifled a long-range effort over the bar after elegantly turning Keita.

The Dutchman went closer as Inter fired a warning to the Blaugrana straight after the restart. Eto'o controlled sublimely and played into the path of Sneijder, who sent his low shot inches wide of Valdes' left-hand post. Thiago Motta followed up with a long-range effort that was comfortably saved by the Barça keeper.

Guardiola's side settled back into their rhythm and produced a spell of intense pressure which was soaked up by Inter's watertight defence, with the central pairing of Lucio and Samuel making precise interventions to deny Messi and co.

As in the first half, Inter waited for the chance to counter-attack the Spaniards and Milito expertly held off challenges from Abidal and Puyol before pulling back for second-half substitute Stankovic to drive narrowly over the bar.

An uncharacteristic miss in front of goal by Messi almost went punished by Eto'o, whose precise low free kick in the closing minutes forced a difficult save from Valdes.

Dynamo Kiev beat our Matchday 2 opponents Rubin Kazan 3-1 in tonight's other Group F match.

Inter 0-0 Barcelona

Inter: 12 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 6 Lucio, 25 Samuel, 26 Chivu; 11 Muntari (5 Stankovic 62), 4 Zanetti, 8 Thiago Motta; 10 Sneijder (39 Santon 80); 9 Eto'o, 22 Milito (45 Balotelli 85).
Subs not used: 1 Toldo, 2 Cordoba, 14 Vieira, 19 Cambiasso, .
Coach: José Mourinho.

Barcelona: 1 Valdes; 2 Daniel Alves, 5 Puyol, 3 Piqué, 22 Abidal; 6 Xavi Hernandez, 24 Touré, 15 Keita; 10 Messi, 9 Ibrahimovic, 14 Henry (8 Iniesta 77).
Subs not used: 13 Pinto, 4 Marquez, 16 Busquets, 17 Pedro Rodriguez, 19 Maxwell, 35 Jeffren.
Coach: Josep Guardiola.

Referee: Wolfgang Stark (Germany).

Booked: Henry 54, Touré 83, Chivu 90.

Att.: 77,321.

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