England tour ends with defeat at Villa Park

BIRMINGHAM - Inter's pre-season tour of England concluded Saturday afternoon with a 3-0 loss at Aston Villa.

Gareth Barry scored twice and Martin Laursen once to send the Nerazzurri back to Italy with three defeats and one win from four games against opponents further ahead in their preparation.

Inter coach Mancini experimented a three-man defence in the opening period at Villa Park with Materazzi flanked by Samuel on the right and Chivu on the left. Cesar and Maxwell were fielded in wide midfield positions with Chilean import Jimenez positioned behind strikers Cruz and Ibrahimovic for his first start in Inter colours.

After going close through Young (angled shot saved by Julio Cesar) and Mellber (header over the bar), Villa took the lead on 14 minutes when Barry converted Petrov's quick ball in from the right, prompting Mancini to switch to a flat back four.

Martin O'Neill's men continued to enjoy the early chances, Moore forcing Julio Cesar into a miraculous save in the 20th.

Inter's first real chance fell to Stankovic whose 23rd-minute shot from Cruz's left-wing cross was blocked by Taylor. Cruz then missed with a header from Cesar's cross before his compatriot Samuel made a crucial intervention to deny Petrov a second for the home side.

The Nerazzurri stepped up a gear before the break and carved out two good scoring chances. Put through by Jimenez, Ibrahimovic danced past two defenders only to see his spectacular flicked finish go an inch wide. Cruz's attempt a minute before the break produced a low save from Taylor.

Mancini made three half-time changes, bringing on Solari, Figo and Suazo for Materazzi, Jimenez and Cruz. The fresh players barely had time to settle down as Danish defender Laursen stole in behind Stankovic to head home Villa's second on 48 minutes.

Julio Cesar denied Petrov and Agbonlahor as the Birmingham side pushed for a third. In between, Stankovic went close to a reply for Inter but his low volley from the edge of the box was deflected wide.

Inter brought on Adriano for Ibrahimovic and immediately had a another chance to reduce the arrears but Dacourt missed the target with a left-foot effort from Figo's pin-point cross.

Aston Villa were 3-0 up in the 68th minute after a Chivu foul on Agbonlahor in the box. Barry stepped up to the spot and slotted home his second of the afternoon.

Mancini made two more changes in the closing stages, replacing the injured Samuel with Primavera youngster Fatic, and Cesar with Desenclos, another member of Vincenzo Esposito's Under-19 squad.

Inter's face newly promoted sides Napoli and Juventus next Wednesday in the 11th edition of the Birra Moretti Trophy. The triangular tournament will be played at Naples' San Paolo stadium.

Aston Villa 3-0 Inter
(HT: 1-0)

Scorers: Barry 14, (pen) 68, Laursen 48.

Aston Villa: Taylor; Cahill (Gardner 46), Mellberg (Berger 72), Laursen (Osburne 80), Cahill, Bouma; Young (Maloney 73), Petrov, Reo-Coker, Barry; Agbonlahor (Harewood 72), Moore.
Subs not used: Bevan, Stieber, Lowry, O'Halloran.
Coach: Martin O'Neill.

Inter: Julio Cesar; Samuel (Fatic 78), Materazzi (Solari 46), Chivu; Cesar (Desenclos 84), Dacourt, Stankovic, Maxwell; Jimenez (Figo 46); Ibrahimovic (Adriano 63), Cruz (Suazo 46).
Subs not used: Toldo, Filippini, Pedrelli, Bolzoni, Filkor, Balotelli.
Coach: Roberto Mancini.

Referee: Uriah Rennie.

Booked: Laursen, Cesar, Gardner, Ibrahimovic, Dacourt, Osbourne.

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