DUBLIN – An enjoyable but at times tense match at the Aviva Stadium ended with a 2-0 win for Inter over Celtic. Castaignos opened the scoring with a cool finish on 7 minutes, following a neatly worked one-two between Pandev and Stankovic. Castellazzi then came to the fore with a series of superb saves. Inter went a man down on the stroke of half time after Motta was shown a second yellow, but Pazzini gave Inter a cushion for the second half with an acrobatic effort in added time. There were no goals in the second half but the Castellazzi show continued and ensured that Inter began the Dublin Super Cup with a win and a clean sheet.
FIRST HALF - After Manchester City had beaten Airtricity XI 3-0 in the opening game of the Dublin Super Cup, it was the turn of Inter and Celtic. Gian Piero Gasperini started with Ranocchia, Samuel and Chivu in the back three in front of Castellazzi, a midfield of Santon, Stankovic, Motta and Nagatomo, and an attacking trio of Pandev, Pazzini and Castaignos.
The tournament's rules mean there are three points for a win, one for a draw and none for the losing side, but for every goal scored an extra point is added. There is no extra time or penalties. The team with the most points wins the tournament; should two sides be tied on points, the cup will be decided by number of shots on goal. Six substitutions are allowed per game.
Celtic - further ahead in their preparations having already played their first league match – started off strongly but it was the Nerazzurri who took the lead in the 7th minute. Pandev played a quick one-two with Stankovic and rushed towards the box before sliding a perfectly weighted pass beyond the Scottish side's defence for Castaignos to run onto; the young striker latched onto it and clipped a clean first-time strike inside the near post.
Nagatomo was forced off on 10 minutes after taking a blow to the shoulder and he was replaced by Faraoni.
Celtic went looking for an equaliser and Castellazzi got a taste of what was to come when Izaguerie had a pop on goal in the 19th minute. On 23 minutes a wonderful chance fell to Samaros when a long ball was played into the Inter box, but Castellazzi pulled off a fantastic save to turn the Greek striker's first-time diagonal volley around the post.
A minute later the Nerazzurri keeper's opposite number Zaluska had a chance to show he wasn't to be outdone and he responded by denying Pazzini. Inter continued to look dangerous on the break but the Celtic keeper was always alert.
The duel between the two No. 1's continued down the other end in the 34th minute, when defensive slip-ups by Ranocchia and Samuel gifted Samaras a free shot at goal: Castellazzi stood up to it and instantly repeated the feat with Nulgren's follow-up from the rebound. A few minutes later Samaras had another chance but Castellazzi was on hand once more.
Inter cranked up their game towards the end of the half and Pandev masterminded two chances in quick succession: Pazzini drilled a snapshot towards the far corner only to be denied by Zaluska's reflexes (40); then a delightful ball by the Macedonian put Castaignos through on goal but the Dutchman's shot shaved the far post (43). Inter were reduced to ten men a minute before half time as Thiago Motta picked up a second yellow, but Pazzini gave Inter reason for optimism at the break by extending the lead in added time. From inside his own half, Chivu launched a long ball into the box, the ball took a high bounce and Pazzini's acrobatic leap enabled him to get his foot high enough to knock the ball over the onrushing keeper and into the empty net. 2-0 to Gasperini's boys at half time.
SECOND HALF – Sneijder and Eto'o came out in place of Castaignos and Pandev at the start of the second half, which began amidst frayed tempers. An increasing yellow-card count aside, not much happened until the hour mark, when Mariga, having just come on for Stankovic (with Samuel taking the captain's armband), had a shot at goal.
Celtic turned up the heat and for a while the Nerazzurri defence came under some sustained pressure.
In the 74th minute Sneijder wriggled his way between two defenders and attempted to play a deft lob into the box for Pazzini, who was beaten to the ball by Zaluska.
Castellazzi was called into play again shortly afterwards, denying Stokes twice in the space of a minute, and Celtic created an excellent chance on 81 minutes as Stokes fed Hooper, who was unable to make the most of it.
Three minutes later, an Inter break produced a chance for Faraoni following an exchange with Eto'o: the youngster's effort was kept out by Zaluska. And deep into injury time Castellazzi flew through the air to block Nulgren's shot, the Nerazzurri shotstopper proving decisive once more.
After three minutes of stoppage time, the match ended 2-0 to Inter. With points for each goal scored, the Dublin Super Cup table currently stands as such: Manchester City 6 points, Inter 5, Celtic and Airtricity both 0, meaning that the Nerazzurri will have to beat Roberto Mancini's side tomorrow to win the tournament. The match will be shown live on Sky Sport Italia from 17:30 CET (16:30 local time).
Inter 2-0 Celtic (HT: 2-0)
Scorers: Castaignos 7, Pazzini 45+1.
Inter: 12 Castellazzi; 23 Ranocchia (Caldirola 86), 25 Samuel, 26 Chivu; 39 Santon (Bianchetti 78), 5 Stankovic (Mariga 56), 8 Motta, 55 Nagatomo (Faraoni 10); 27 Pandev (Eto'o 46), 7 Pazzini, 30 Castaignos (Sneijder 46).
Subs: 21 Orlandoni, 57 Natalino, 48 Crisetig, 77 Muntari, 11 Alvarez.
Celtic: 24 Zaluska; 11 Cha Du-ri (Matthews 67), 22 Loovens (Stokes 60), 15 Wilson, 3 Izaguerie; 8 Brown, 33 Kayal, 16 Ledley, 21 Nulgren; 9 Samaras (McCourt 76), 13 Shaun Maloney (Hooper 60).
Subs: 47 Dom Cervi, 56 Twardsik, 5 Majstarovic, 67 Wanyama, 27 Murphy.
Referee: Hancock (Ireland).
Booked: Motta 11 and 44, Stankovic 16, Brown 48, Cha Du-ri 51, Faraoni 51.
Sent off: Motta 44.
Added time: 1+3 minutes.