Martins double earns Inter win
By James Mosley. Last Updated: 07/12/04 9:30pm
Obafemi Martins' duplicate brace saw Internazionale breeze past a mediocre Anderlecht at the Giuseppe Meazza and cement their place in the knockout phase.
Argentine Julio Cruz had put Inter ahead after some sublime play with Alvaro Recoba, then early in the second half, Martins scored two near-identical goals to condemn Anderlecht's sorry campaign with an embarrassing 'nil point' - the first time ever that a Belgium club has failed to gain a point in the UEFA Champions League.
A drab first half in front of a subdued Giuseppe Meazza was enlightened by a marvellous link-up between Inter's Uruguayan ace, Recoba, and the elegant Cruz that led to a fine goal, dripping with South American flair.
Recoba, whose talent is exceeded only by his languid apathy, provided the one moment of class in a lacklustre first half when his marvellous back-heeled reverse pass put in Cruz, who checked inside his marker and rolled the ball past Jan van Steenberghe with measured composure.
It was a classy goal and illuminated a frankly dire half in which neither team seemed too bothered about making much effort to play football.
Anderlecht, who have lost all their group games thus far, were forced to field their third choice keeper and a string of youngsters, and only looked remotely threatening when their muscular top scorer, the Ivory Coast striker, Aruna Dindane, had the ball.
He should have put them ahead when he planted a free header over the Inter bar when unchallenged, but other than that, there was little for fans of the Belgium champions to cheer.
For Inter, man-of-the-moment Adriano was completing his suspension after his fisticuffs against Valencia, and coach Roberto Mancini made a whopping ten changes in total from the side that stuffed Messina at the weekend in Serie A.
He was still able to call on the likes of Edgar Davids, Martins, the aforementioned Recoba, and Greek Euro 2004 hero Giorgias Karagounis, whilst at the same time allow himself the luxury of leaving Christian Vieri on the bench.
Cruz's goal divided the teams at half time and thankfully, the Belgians came out with a bit more life for the start of the second; Walter Baseggio should have done better than head straight at Fabio Carini, then Yves Vanderhaeghe stung Carini's gloves with a crisp 25-yarder.
But then two goals in three minutes from Inter's impish Nigerian Martins put the hosts in command. Martins had been buzzing around the Anderlecht back-line most of the game and then took advantage of some lax work by the inexperienced Belgian defence to score two very similar goals.
Receiving a pinpoint 30-yard through ball from Davids, he danced round the static Traore and slotted home from 15 yards. For the second, he latched onto a defence splitting pass and then stroked the ball home past the hapless van Steenberghe.
With Anderlecht now visibly deflated, they were reduced to speculative pot-shots from distance and the game slowed to an almost walking pace.
Martins left to a deserved ovation as he was subbed on 70 minutes and the closing stages were almost as dull as the early exchanges with only a mazy run by Recoba worthy of note. Having done all the hard work his final shot was tame and well gathered by van Steenberghe.
Englishman Mike Riley deserves praise for refereeing the game with a refreshing freedom, leaving his cards in his pocket for most of the game.
In the end, Inter won at a canter and with their big guns to return, they could prove to be dark horses in the next phase.Click here for player ratings
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|7||Shots on Target||3|
|3||Shots off Target||10|
UEFA Champions League
Tue 7th Dec - Group H
PSG1 - 3CSKA Mosc
FC Porto2 - 1Chelsea
Tue 7th Dec - Group G
Valencia0 - 2W Bremen
Inter3 - 0Anderlecht
Tue 7th Dec - Group F
Celtic0 - 0AC Milan
Shak Donetsk2 - 0Barcelona
Tue 7th Dec - Group E
Arsenal5 - 1Rosenborg
Panathinaikos4 - 1PSV
UEFA Champions League Group A
UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League Group C
|1||Paris St Germain||6||13|
UEFA Champions League Group D
|3||FC Viktoria Plzen||6||3|
UEFA Champions League Group E
|4||FC Steaua Bucuresti||5||3|
UEFA Champions League Group F
UEFA Champions League Group G
|2||Zenit St. Petersburg||5||6|
UEFA Champions League Group H