DUBLIN – Gian Piero Gasperini's Inter suffered their first defeat of the summer preparation matches. The Nerazzurri, who were rotating players before their trip to Beijing, came up against a Manchester City side that fielded one of their strongest line-ups. The result (3-0) does not reveal that the goals from the English team arrived just a few seconds before the break (Balotelli) and 33 seconds after the start of the second half (Dzeko). The third, which came in the 93rd minute from Adam Johnson, meant that the Dublin Super Cup went to Roberto Mancini and Manchester City. The advantage of City on a dead-ball situation (corner) and the doubling of the score from a loose ball in front of the defensive line showed that randomness had a hand in the decisive goals. The Nerazzurri – more tired than their opponents after the battle with Celtic – still gave a strong effort and Julio Cesar had an impressive match (as Castellazzi did yesterday).
Introduction. Gasperini, as he announced yesterday at the end of the
first match against Celtic, shuffled the deck before heading to Beijing. There
was Julio Cesar back between the posts, a 3-man defence with Caldirola starting
and, for this long summer of 2011, two Primavera players in the midfield:
Bianchetti on the right and Crisetig on the left. Alvarez was once again
starting up top alongside Eto'o. In the control room the duties fell to
Stankovic and Sneijder. Manchester City fielded their top formation, or almost,
with the 4-3-3 that Roberto Mancini chose for the occasion (for this, Gasperini
lowered Bianchetti for defensive cover). There was Mario Balotelli, facing his
former team for the first time, who opened the scoring in the final seconds
before halftime with a header from a corner.
First Half. After not even one minute of play the referee disallowed a Man City goal; it was scored by Silva after a touch from Balotelli in an offside position. Mario again came close to putting City in front before Eto'o's response went wide, all within a few seconds. The pace was much more that of a friendly compared to the 'battle' with Celtic; Alvarez (who took off from the centre-left) shot wide, and then Julio Cesar saved the third consecutive attempt from Balotelli.
Only two training sessions were needed for the Nerazzurri's Brazilian keeper to prove ready (after 12 minutes) for his double save on Silva and Balotelli. Hart also showed his worth three minutes later on an attempt from Eto'o, who shot on a ball recovered by Stankovic. Inter suffered a bit too much on the left flank of the youngsters (Caldirola, Crisetig and Alvarez – the left-footed Muntari would soon enter to provide balance), but the second disallowed goal from City (from Dzeko in the 18th minute) arrived on a cross from the right. It was a ping-pong match with plenty of space for the forwards and Eto'o was enjoying it; in the 28th minute the Cameroonian had another go. Julio Cesar showed himself to be alert when he tipped out Dzeko's shot for a corner. The response from Muntari (38) was not proportionate to the good work that led to his attempt from outside the box, set up by Sneijder. Before the break Julio Cesar made a fantastic save from Balotelli (45), and then in injury time after a corner kick Balotelli headed in the opening goal for Manchester City to make it 0-1.
Second Half. The second half began with the same 22 who had entered the dressing rooms, but the score changed after only 22 seconds; Silva won the ball from Stankovic and then played in Dzeko who, all alone, finished past Julio Cesar to put Man City ahead 0-2. Inter responded through Caldirola in the 54th minute when he diverted a free-kick towards the goal from the penalty spot, but Hart climbed high under the Dublin sky to push it out for a corner.
The Nerazzurri (with Castaignos on for Pandev) were now keeping City under pressure and the crowd at the Aviva Stadium applauded a beautiful volleyed shot from Stankovic (57) that deserved to finish in the back of the net. The Serb tried again two minutes later, but the ball ricocheted out, practically on Hart's goal line. Pazzini then came on for Alvarez and Inter went into front-wheel drive; Eto'o took off from the centre-left but his shot in the 66th minute was too central to cause problems. Julio Cesar showed off his usual fantastic form 90 seconds later when he went low to block Milner's diagonal shot. Inter were also feeling the fatigue and Gasperini had fewer substitutes at his disposal for the Dublin Super Cup than Mancini did, and so the game ended with ample space for a counterattack from Balotelli & Co. Muntari felt frustrated and attempted an unsuccessful shot from distance. Pazzini then headed on the turn to frighten Hart. But it was even easier for Adam Johnson to make it 3-0 and secure the trophy for Manchester City.
Conclusion. After the 'real' games against Galatasaray and Celtic in which Inter did not concede a goal, they gave up two goals – the first ones, which decided the result – that could also be categorized as random and handed them defeat in the most classic of international friendlies; with low rhythm, few fouls and much space. But playing against City (with ex-Nerazzurri members) and also against fatigue, Inter failed to make their mark on the second day of the Dublin Super Cup, with their thoughts already in the Orient; tomorrow, via Paris, they head to Beijing.
Inter 0-3 Manchester City (HT: 0-2)
Scorers: Balotelli 46, Dzeko 47, Adam Johnson 93.
Inter: Julio Cesar; Bianchetti, Ranocchia, Chivu, Caldirola (Natalino, 69); Stankovic (Mariga, 74), Sneijder (Santon, 74), Crisetig (Muntari, 71); Pandev (Castaignos, 53), Eto'o, Alvarez (Pazzini, 63).
Unused subs: 12 Castellazzi, 21 Orlandoni, 25 Samuel, 37 Faraoni.
Manchester City: Hart; Richards, Lescott, Kompany, Kolarov (Rekik, 88); De Jong, Y.Toure (Suarez, 88), Milner (Johnson, 79); Silva (Barry, 79), Dzeko Balotelli (Wright Phillips, 74).
Unused subs: 12 Taylor, 38 Boyata, 48 McGivern, 60 Guidetti, 36 Suarez, 64 Roman, 77 Scapuzzi, 62 Razak, 78 Rekik.
Coach: R. Mancini.
Referee: Mc Keon (Ireland).