MILAN - Julio Cruz stunned Spartak Moscow with two early goals at the Giuseppe Meazza to earn the Nerazzurri a 2-1 win over the Russians and their first points in this season's Champions League.
It took Cruz, who made his return from injury in Sunday's victory over Catania, less than two minutes to score against the team nicknamed 'The Meat'. Meeting Vieira's assist from a Recoba inswinger, the Argentine forward hooked his first-time shot on the turn into the roof of the net.
Inter doubled their lead in the 9th minute. Stankovic played over the Spartak defence to Recoba who steered wide of Kowalewski before crossing into the six-yard box where Cruz headed in Inter's 100th home goal in Champions League/European matches.
The crossbar denied Inter a third goal six minutes after the restart, Luis Figo rattling the woodwork with a right-foot shot from the edge of the box after good approach play by Zanetti and Recoba.
The Muscovites found more spaces coming forward after the introduction of pacey Dutch striker Quincy Owusu-Abeyie, and reduced the arrears against the run of play through Pavlyuchenko who met Boyarintsev's ball from the left and slotted in from close range.
Inter soaked up a period of Spartak pressure before continuing to dominate the game, and looked to have scored a third when Dejan Stankovic brought down Cruz' deflected cross from the right, switched to his left foot and volleyed home. But the Serbian's effort was ruled out for high feet.
Mancini's men survived a late scare when Julio Cesar kept out a Boyarintsev shot in the 89th minute to deny Spartak a dramatic equaliser.
INTER 2-1 SPARTAK MOSCOW (HT: 2-0)
Scorers: Cruz 2, 9, Pavlyuchenko 54
INTER: 12 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 2 Cordoba, 23 Materazzi, 4 Zanetti; 7 Figo (10 Adriano 69), 14 Vieira, 15 Dacourt, 5 Stankovic; 9 Cruz (25 Samuel 90+1), 20 Recoba (16 Burdisso 58)
Subs not used: 1 Toldo, 6 Maxwell, 18 Crespo, 21 Solari
Coach: Roberto Mancini
SPARTAK MOSCOW: 30 Kowalewski; 49 Shishkin, 13 Jiranek, 2 Geder, 3 Stranzl; 7 Boyarintsev, 9 Titov, 15 Kovac, 24 Mozar (21 Owusu-Abeyie 46), 23 Bystrov (8 Kalynychenko 75); 10 Pavlyuchenko
Subs not used: 1 Khomich, 5 Torbinskiy, 11 Rebko, 14 Rodriguez, 18 Pavlenko, 20 Cavenaghi
Coach: Vladimir Fedotov
Referee: Bertrand Layec (France)
Booked: Rodriguez 32, Figo 33, Kalynychenko 80