Final score

3 February 2008 15:00

34' Ibrahimovic (P)
Referee: Paolo Tagliavento / Linesmen: Petrella, De Luca / Fourth official: De Marco
Watch highlights
Minute Text commentary
45' Half time. Inter 1-0 Empoli. In Siena the Bianconeri lead Roma 2-0.
43' Inter counter-attack and win a corner after Cruz' low shot is parried by Bassi.
42' Chivu intercepts in the box and concedes a corner after a flowing move by Empoli.
39' Vieira is yellow-carded for a challenge on Marianini. Empoli win a free kick 30 yards out.
39' Inter down to ten men. Seconds after his booking, Vieira is sent off for protesting.
39' So it will be a ten-man Inter for the third time in four games...
34' GOAL!!!!! Zlatan Ibrahimovic sends Bassi the wrong way from the spot. INTER 1-0 EMPOLI.
33' PENALTY! Empoli captain Vannucchi blocks Stankovic's shot with his arm, and Tagliavento points to the spot.
33' Vannucchi is booked.
31' Vannucchi's strike from 25 yards finishes on the roof of the net.
29' Pozzi fires wide from a tight angle after running on to a high ball over the defence.
27' Empoli make a half clearance from Chivu's curling free kick. Inter remain in attack and Cruz scythes over after collecting Cambiasso's pass.
24' Burdisso makes a sliding intervention to block Buscè's angled shot from inside our area.
23' Nico Burdisso rises in the area to meet Jimenez' right-wing corner but the Argentine's header is wayward.
22' Bassi parries Stankovic's thunderbolt shot from 20 yards and concedes a corner.
19' Nicola Pozzi weaves Materazzi and Chivu in the Inter area, but there's no way past Nicolas Burdisso.
17' Another chance for Inter. Ibrahimovic wins a duel on the left and races down the flank before sending a whipped cross over to the far post. Both Jimenez and Stankovic fail to capitalise.
15' The stadium roars as the news comes through that Siena have taken the lead at home to Roma.
14' Stankovic's cross-shot from the right is off target. Vieira races in at the back post but fails to connect.
13' Inter hit back at the Tuscans. Cruz, Ibra and Cambiasso combine before serving Jimenez, whose low angled shot is just wide of the far post.
12' Stankovic floats a ball over to Ibrahimovic. The flag goes up for offside.
12' Empoli attack back. Raggi blasts high and wide from a position on the right wing.
10' Ibra receives from Vieira and sweeps wide for Jimenez but the Swede's pass is intercepted.
7' At the other end Empoli keeper Bassi is quick out to beat Jimenez to Cruz' headed pass.
6' Julio Cesar makes an easy catch from Marianini's right-wing centre.
2' Antonini swings in a dangerous cross from the left. Chivu intercepts and concedes a corner.
2' Igli Vannucchi hits a shot on target from 25 yards. It spins off Esteban Cambiasso but Julio Cesar makes a comfortable save.
1' Welcome to the Meazza for Inter v Empoli.
1' Inter: 12 Julio Cesar; 4 Zanetti, 16 Burdisso, 23 Materazzi, 26 Chivu; 14 Vieira, 19 Cambiasso, 5 Stankovic; 11 Jimenez; 8 Ibrahimovic, 9 Cruz.
1' Empoli: 1 Bassi, 46 Raggi, 16 Marzoratti, 2 Piccolo, 77 Antonini; 8 Marianini, 5 Moro, 10 Vannucchi, 32 Budel; 24 Buscè; 9 Pozzi.
1' Game on! Inter kick off.
Minute Text commentary
50' That's it. Inter hang on for a 1-0 win over Empoli.
49' Pozzi's shot on the turn from Buscè's right-wing cross is just wide.
48' Another chance for Suazo. Another miss.
47' Served by Ibra, Suazo races on goal and blasts over from the edge of the box.
46' Saudati is booked for shooting on goal after the ref had blown his whistle.
45' 5 minutes of overtime.
44' Siena are 3-0 up against Roma.
40' Suazo sends in a low cross from the right. Buscè intercepts and clears.
39' Empoli bring on Giacomazzi for Vannucchi.
38' Julio Cesar saves Saudati's penalty kick!!!!
37' Penalty to Empoli after Materazzi's foul on Saudati.
35' Julio Cesar moves off his line quicly to beat Pozzi to a long ball into the Nerazzurri area. The Empoli striker is booked for an ugle challenge on the Inter keeper.
32' Maxwell gets to the by-line and whips in a cross. Materazzi's far-post header is wide.
31' Superb shot by Maxwell after a one-two with Burdisso. The Brazilian's effort is parried by Bassi. Saudati clears the resulting corner, taken by Chivu.
29' Yet another yellow card. Julio Cesar is booked for time wasting.
27' Suazo blasts over from an acute angle after being served by Ibrahimovic.
26' Luckily the Romanian is okay to continue.
26' Piccolo is booked for a foul on Suazo.
25' Bassi rises at his left-hand post to deny Ibrahimovic a headed chance from Chivu's cross.
25' Cristian Chivu comes off worse for wear after a challenge from behind on Vannucchi.
23' Empoli subs Abate and Suadati combine, the latter firing over after collecting a pass from the former.
21' Good chance for Inter. Cambiasso plays in Suazo and the Honduran connects first time. It's not far wide of the back post.
20' Abate is yellow-carded for a challenge on Maxwell. Free kick to us on the left wing.
20' Chivu's looping free kick is headed clear at the back post.
19' Empoli close to a leveller. Pozzi's header from a left-wing cross is tipped over by Julio Cesar.
18' Ibra has a go from distance. The Swede's effort takes a deflection but the referee doesn't give a corner.
17' Budel collects a pass in a central position 25 yards out and hits his shot over the bar.
14' Malesani brings on Abate for Marzoratti.
12' Empoli sub Saudati connects with a cross from the right and hits his first-time shot a yard wide.
11' And Inter make their third. Julio Cruz is applauded by the Nerazzurri faithful as he makes way for David Suazo.
10' Empoli make their first change. Moro off, Saudati on.
9' Buscè rises in the area and heads on target a cross from the left. Julio Cesar saves.
9' It's more Empoli than Inter in these opening minutes of the second half.
8' Cambiasso is booked for a foul on Vannucchi.
8' Julio Cesar climbs in his box to grasp Vannucchi's cross from the free kick.
7' Vannucchi plays square to Buscè and the Empoli midfielder shoots, forcing Julio Cesar into a tipped save.
6' Cruz fouls Raggi on the left edge of the Inter area. Free kick to the Tuscans.
5' Empoli win a left-wing corner. Vannucchi's low cross is poked clear by Ibra at the near post.
4' Dejan Stankovic has sustained an injury is unable to continue, forcing Mancini to shuffle his pack again. He is replaced by Nelson Rivas.
4' Zanetti pushes up to midfield, with Burdisso slotting into a right-back position.
3' Headed clearance by Burdisso from Vannucchi's cross.
1' Empoli get the second half under way.
1' Roberto Mancini has made a tactical switch. On comes Maxwell for Jimenez, with Chivu switching from full-back to midfield.
Julio Cesar
Average rating 7.04
3 shots on target 5
9 shots off target 8
11 fouls committed 12
4 corners 4
5 offsides 3
27:27 ball possession 28:46
Mancini v Malesani

Roberto Mancini has faced Alberto Malesani on 5 previous occasions. The Inter coach has won two matches, drawn twice and lost once.

2001/02 Serie A Fiorentina-Verona 0-2 ----
2003/04 Coppa Italia Lazio-Modena 1-0 2-0
2003/04 Serie A Lazio-Modena ---- 1-1
2006/07 Serie A Inter-Udinese 1-1 ----

Mancini v Empoli

Mancini faces Empoli for the 14th time after 11 victories, 1 draw and just 1 defeat. His teams have won every home game against the Tuscans, scoring a total of 18 goals.

2002/03 Coppa Italia Lazio-Empoli 2-0 2-1
2002/03 Serie A Lazio-Empoli 4-1 2-1
2003/04 Serie A Lazio-Empoli 3-0 2-2
2005/06 Serie A Inter-Empoli 4-1 0-1
2006/07 Coppa Italia Inter-Empoli 2-0 2-0
2006/07 Serie A Inter-Empoli 3-1 3-0
2007/08 Serie A Inter-Empoli ---- 2-0

Malesani v Inter

Alberto Malesani has met Inter 16 times in his coaching career. He has won 5 games, drawing 5 and losing 6.

1997/98 Serie A Fiorentina-Inter 1-1 2-3 1998/99 Serie A Parma-Inter 1-0 3-1 1998/99 Coppa Italia Parma-Inter 2-1 2-0 1999/00 Serie A Parma-Inter 1-1 1-5 1999/00 Playoff Parma-Inter 1-3 (pld in Verona) 2000/01 Coppa Italia Parma-Inter 6-1 0-0 2001/02 Serie A Verona-Inter 0-3 0-3 2003/04 Serie A Modena-Inter 1-1 0-2 2006/07 Serie A Udinese-Inter ---- 1-1

Inter unbeaten in 26 Serie A matches...

Inter 1-3 Roma on 18 April 2007 was the Nerazzurri's last Serie A defeat. Mancini's team have since played 26 top-flight games, winning 20 and drawing 6.

Inter's long scoring run at home

The Nerazzurri have scored in 48 consecutive league games at home, netting a total of 115 goals. Inter 0-0 Reggina on the last day of the 2004/05 season was the last time Mancini's team failed to score in a Serie A home match.

Cruz two away from 100th goal

With 98 goals in competitive matches, Julio Ricardo Cruz is just two away from a century of goals for Italian clubs. The Argentine forward, who scored his first Italian goal in Napoli 1-5 Bologna on 22 October 2000, has netted 30 times for the Rossoblu and 68 times for Inter (71 goals in Serie A, 14 in Coppa Italia and 13 in European competitions).

Fair play Inter

Inter have received the fewest yellow cards after 20 rounds of the Serie A season - just 33.

Pratali set for 100th Serie A appearance

If he plays in Serie A Week 21, Francesco Pratali will complete a century of appearances in Italy's top flight. Pratali made his Serie A debut in Empoli 0-0 Bologna on 6 October 2002.

One Empoli win in last 18 away games... at San Siro

Empoli have won just once in their last 18 away matches (a 1-0 victory over AC Milan on 21 October 2007). The Tuscan outfit have collected 3 draws and 14 defeats from the other 17 games.

No Empoli goal in Serie A for 265 minutes

Saudati's 5th-minute penalty in Empoli's 1-1 home draw with Reggina on 12 January 2008 was the last time the Tuscans scored in the Serie A. A total of 265 competitive minutes have elapsed since that goal (remaining 85 minutes of Empoli 1-1 Reggina, Livorno 1-0 Empoli, and Empoli 0-2 Fiorentina).

wins(13) draws(0) defeats(2)

MILAN - Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his nineteenth goal of the season as ten-man Inter held on for a 1-0 victory over Empoli.

The Swedish forward converted a penalty in the first half but Inter were reduced to ten men for the third time in four games when Patrick Vieira was dismissed for a second yellow.

Julio Cesar saved Saudati's penalty in the closing stages as the Nerazzurri held on for a gritty win that moves them eight points clear of Roma, 3-0 losers at Siena.

After a dull start the Week 21 fixture came alive in the 34th minute when Ibra sent Bassi the wrong way from the spot after Stankovic's shot was handballed by Vannucchi.

Six minutes later Vieira was yellow-carded for a challenge on Marianini, and within seconds the France captain was sent marching for protests.

Mancini made a tactical switch at half-time, bringing on Maxwell for Jimenez and moving Chivu into midfield.

The Nerazzurri coach was forced into a second change just after the interval, with Rivas on in place of the injured Stankovic.

Empoli dominated the opening stages of the second half as Inter adjusted, prompting Mancini to bring on counter-attack specialist Suazo for Cruz.

But the Tuscans only real threat on the Inter goal came when Pozzi forced a tipped save from Julio Cesar.

Inter relentlessly looked for a second and almost got their reward when Suazo narrowly missed after being played in by Cambiasso.

Julio Cesar pulled off more heroics seven minutes from time, saving Saudati's penalty after a foul by Materazzi.

Inter 1-0 Empoli (HT: 1-0)

Scorer: Ibrahimovic (pen) 34.

Inter: 12 Julio Cesar; 4 Zanetti, 16 Burdisso, 23 Materazzi, 26 Chivu; 14 Vieira, 19 Cambiasso, 5 Stankovic (24 Rivas 49); 11 Jimenez (6 Maxwell 46); 8 Ibrahimovic, 9 Cruz (29 Suazo 56).
Subs not used: 1 Toldo, 18 Crespo, 28 Maniche, 30 Pelé.
Coach: Roberto Mancini.

Empoli: 1 Bassi, 46 Raggi, 16 Marzoratti (6 Abate 59), 2 Piccolo, 77 Antonini; 8 Marianini, 5 Moro (11 Saudati 55), 10 Vannucchi (18 Giacomazzi 84), 32 Budel; 24 Buscè; 9 Pozzi.
Subs not used: 23 Balli, 4 Rincon, 7 Tosto, 27 Volpato.
Coach: Alberto Malesani.

Referee: Paolo Tagliavento (Terni).

Booked: Vannucchi 33, Vieira 39, Cambiasso 53, Abate 65, Piccolo 71, Julio Cesar 74, Pozzi 80, Saudati 90+1.
Sent off: Vieira 39.

starting lineups

Julio Cesar 12 Bassi
Zanetti 4 Raggi
Burdisso 16 Marzoratti,
Materazzi 23 Piccolo
Chivu 26 Antonini
Vieira 14 Marianini
Cambiasso 19 Moro
Stankovic 5 Vannucchi
Jimenez 11 Budel
Ibrahimovic 8 Buscè
Cruz 9 Pozzi


Toldo 1 Balli
Maxwell 6 Rincon
Crespo 18 Abate
Rivas 24 Tosto
Maniche 28 Saudati
Suazo 29 Giacomazzi
Pelé 30 Volpato