MILAN – 9 May 2010, exactly ten years ago. Four days earlier Inter had won the Coppa Italia, the first title of that blessed May. However, in order to win the second one, they’d have to overcome the challenges posed by Chievo at San Siro and Siena at the Franchi. Two matches in which the Nerazzurri couldn’t falter given Roma were waiting to pounce on any mistake.
You need to be aggressive in matches so they don’t get out of your control. You need to go hard early on, trying to take the lead as soon as possible in hot pursuit of the ultimate aim: three points. Without Sneijder and Lucio but with Materazzi and Balotelli in the starting line-up, the Nerazzurri aimed to do exactly this. The match kicked off and Stankovic’s right-footed strike soon crashed against the bar. Inter were switched on, Inter were ready.
Inter vs. Chievo was a similar situation to Inter vs. Siena in 2008: the Nerazzurri could theoretically win the Scudetto with a game to spare. But twelve years ago, Inter were forced to wait until the last day of the season to clinch the title away to Parma. You can never take anything for granted. Proof of this came in the 12th minute: Thiago Motta diverted the ball into his own net to give Chievo the lead. But the Nerazzurri struck back immediately: Eto’o’s powerful ball into the mix bounced off Mantovani and ended in the net. 1-1, a sense of calm restored.
More than 75,000 fans were spurring the Nerazzurri on and keeping tabs on Roma vs. Cagliari. On the half-hour mark, Stankovic’s shot stung the gloves of Sorrentino: it was a sign of the team’s attacking intent. During that incredible season, Douglas Maicon provided a total of eleven assists in the league, with two coming in precisely that match. The first came with 34 minutes on the clock: his beautifully flighted cross was met by Cambiasso on the volley. A brilliant goal to make it 2-1, hugely liberating.
2-1 became 3-1 after 39 minutes: it was a wonderful bit of play by Milito to lift the ball over Sorrentino from outside the box. A lob that will live long in the memory. And then there was the goal from Balotelli to make it 4-1 at the start of the second half. Sent clear by Maicon’s ball over the top, the Italian fired past the outrushing goalkeeper with his right foot. Roma vs. Cagliari remained 0-0. Was it time to party?
No, not at all. On the hour mark, Granoche got his leg to Marcolini’s left-footed effort at goal to reduce the arrears. 15 minutes later, it was 4-3 as Pellissier took full advantage of a mistake at the back. Tension in the air? It was palpable, especially after two Totti goals had seen Roma come from behind to lead Cagliari. In the 83rd minute, Pandev was unable to ease the nerves after striking the post from close range. Ultimately, however, it didn’t matter: Inter picked up the three points. Given that Roma did too, it would all come down to Siena vs. Inter the following week. But that’s another story.
INTER 4-3 CHIEVO, 2009/2010
Goalscorers: 13' Thiago Motta (own goal), 14' Mantovani (own goal), 34' Cambiasso, 39' Milito, 52' Balotelli, 60' Granoche, 75' Pellissier.
Inter: 12 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 23 Materazzi, 25 Samuel, 4 Zanetti; 5 Stankovic, 19 Cambiasso, 8 Thiago Motta (56' 11 Muntari); 45 Balotelli (64' 27 Pandev), 22 Milito (90' 17 Mariga), 9 Eto'o.
Substitutes: 1 Toldo, 7 Quaresma, 26 Chivu, 89 Arnautovic
Coach: Josè Mourinho
Chievo Verona: 28 Sorrentino; 20 Sardo, 21 Frey, 3 Scardina (75' 19 Ariatti), 4 Mantovani, 17 Jokic; 10 Luciano, 16 Rigoni (46' 9 Bentivoglio), 7 Marcolini; 31 Pellissier, 11 Granoche (61' 22 Abbruscato).
Substitutes: 18 Squizzi, 15 Iori, 27 Moro, 83 De Paula.
Coach: Domenico Di Carlo
Referee: Nicola Banti
Notes. Bookings: 70' Sardo. Added time: 2'-3' Attendance: 75,379