Stankovic: "The only important thing was winning"

MILAN – Dejan Stankovic commented on Inter’s 4-3 victory over Chievo directly after the final whistle.

"We were only thinking about the match against Chievo, not about the Scudetto," said the Serbian midfielder.

"The three points were important today, not the game at the Olimpico. We’re used to high tension. Now we will have two days off and then we will think about Siena.

"Tension between Inter and Roma? I’m not interested. The only thing that interests me is winning the Scudetto for these fantastic fans."


Serie A: Inter 4-3 Chievo

MILAN – Inter beat Chievo in a seven-goal show at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza and for 75 minutes the Scudetto was on its way to Milan, but the title race will go down to the wire as Roma came from behind to beat Cagliari 2-1.

Esteban Cambiasso, Diego Milito and Mario Balotelli scored after a pair of own goals to maintain Inter’s two-point advantage over the Giallorossi going into the final day of the season.

Granoche reduced the arrears for Chievo and Pellissier struck with sixteen minutes left as the Nerazzurri were made to work hard for the points.

It was all Inter from the word go and Stankovic fired an early warning when his splendid long-range effort bounced off the top of the crossbar.

But Chievo edged in front against the run of play on 12 minutes when Luciano’s free kick from the right went in off Thiago Motta.

The visitors’ lead lasted all of sixty seconds and the equaliser was another own goal with Mantovani inadvertently back-heeling Eto’o’s shot into his own net.

The 75,000 spectators were treated to display of relentless attacking for the rest of the first half.

On 35 minutes Cambiasso robbed Sardo and set up a counter-attack, finishing it off with a angled shot from Maicon’s cross at the far post.

Four minutes later Milito added his 21st of the Serie A season with an effort to savour. Eto’o played in his strike partner and the Prince caught Sorrentino on the hop with a sublime lob.

Inter opened up a three-goal cushion seven minutes after the restart and it was a case of anything you can do, I can do too as Balotelli latched on to Maicon’s beautifully-timed long-range pass and emulated Milito by lifting the ball over Sorrentino.

To their credit, Chievo never stopped fighting and the Flying Donkeys pulled a goal back on 60 minutes when Granoche diverted Marcolini’s shot beyond Julio Cesar.

Inter suddenly had a game on their hands when Chievo captain Pellissier went through on goal and fired past Julio Cesar to make it 4-3 with just over a quarter of an hour remaining.

Sorrentino made a fine save from Eto’o and substitute Pandev crashed a shot against the post as Inter created plenty of chances to build on their lead.

Inter 4-3 Chievo (HT: 3-1)

Scorers: Thiago Motta (og) 12, Mantovani (og) 13, Cambiasso 35, Milito 39, Balotelli 52, Granoche 60, Pellissier 74.

Inter: 12 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 23 Materazzi, 25 Samuel, 4 Zanetti; 5 Stankovic, 19 Cambiasso, 8 Thiago Motta (11 Muntari 56); 9 Eto’o, 22 Milito (17 Mariga 90+2), 45 Balotelli (27 Pandev 64).
Subs not used
: 1 Toldo, 7 Quaresma, 26 Chivu, 89 Arnautovic.

: José Mourinho.

Chievo Verona: 28 Sorrentino; 20 Sardo, 21 Frey, 3 Scardina (19 Ariatti 75), 4 Mantovani, 17 Jokic; 10 Luciano, 16 Rigoni (9 Bentivoglio 46), 7 Marcolini; 31 Pellissier, 11 Granoche (22 Abbruscato 62). 

Subs not used
: 18 Squizzi, 15 Iori, 27 Moro, 83 De Paula.
Coach: Domenico Di Carlo.

Referee: Luca Banti (Livorno).

Booked: Sardo 25.

Att.: 75,379.


Moratti: "Two games. No distractions"

MILAN – Inter president Massimo Moratti spoke briefly to journalists this morning on his arrival at the Saras offices in Milan’s city centre.

This is what he said:

President, once again this season Inter will learn their Serie A destiny in Siena.
"It seems to be destiny that Inter always play against Siena at the end of the season. It’s a nice place, so I go there willingly."

The whole crowd at the Meazza re-embraced Mario Balotelli yesterday.
"It’s a natural sign of a fan who finds a champion playing, working hard and being useful. It’s natural, I don’t think there’s any prejudice."

The crowd also showed great esteem for José Mourinho.
"I should think so too. He’s a coach who has done very well since he has been at Inter, and he has a contract to stay here so everybody is trying to win him over with passion, love, recognition and everything that a person can show."

Does Moratti feel that he needs to do something to convince Mourinho to stay in Milan?
"No. Quite honestly, for now I’m thinking about finishing the championship. All these things are things they think on the outside of the club. Also, we don’t even know if everything that is said is true, so I don’t see why we should start saying certain things."

Many found your statement on the future of Mourinho ‘there are still two matches to play, then we will see’ to be enigmatic.
"There’s nothing enigmatic, it’s just spontaneous. We have two very important games to play and nobody wants any distractions, neither Mourinho nor myself or the players."

With what spirit do Inter go into these last two decisive matches?
"With the same spirit that we have had in all these years when we have had decisive matches to play. The Champions League is obviously a higher level, but we will play it as we always do: with great faith in the players. We don’t think this situation is a coincidence and this is very important because it means that we are all aware of the personality, strength, continuity and great professionalism of this group."

Inter slowed down between February and March but it seemed planned when you consider the strength with which the team has arrived at this final phase of the season…
"I don’t know if it was planned but maybe it helped the team to be in its current form. It certainly wasn’t to lose or draw a few matches. And I’m also very happy to see my players this strong."

What do you think about Mourinho being referrred to the disciplinary commission for what was a joke? It could result in a disqualification for the coach on the final day of the championship.
"I don’t think he will get a suspension for the next and last game because otherwise it would be something done on purpose. Mourinho made a joke and the recepient of it – the Siena president – understood this perfectly."


Training: squad in groups, 4 individual sessions

APPIANO GENTILE – Preparations for Sunday afternoon’s Serie A match at home to Chievo got under way this morning at the Centro Sportivo Angelo Moratti.

José Mourinho and his staff organised the squad into groups for Friday’s training session. Those used most in the Tim Cup final victory over Roma on Wednesday did light training. Lucio and Wesley Sneijder had treatment and physiotherapy, while Davide Santon continued with his injury rehabilitation.

Inter chief of medical staff Franco Combi performed tests on Ivan Ramiro Cordoba, who came off injured during the first half of Inter-Roma. The Colombian defender, who has strained the biceps femoris muscle in his right leg, underwent an initial session of treatment and physio this morning.


José Mourinho number 1 for AIPS

LONDON – (by Gianni Merlo, AIPS President) – José Mourinho is currently the most highly valued trainer in the world, according to a survey made during the 73rd annual congress of the International Sports Press Association, AIPS held this week in Antalya, Turkey.

The question "Who is the best trainer in the world?" was put to 200 journalists from 96 countries, and the results were as follows: Mou was preferred by 36%, Ferguson by 20%, Hiddink by 13.3%, Capello by 9.3%, Lippi by 8%, Dunga by 6.7%, Bielsa by 4% and Van Gaal by 2.7%. Mou is a great communicator and knows how to create interest – even when he’s frowning and silent, he creates a sensation.

He never goes unnoticed. He’s also careful about the way he dresses. He knows how to go onstage. He steals the show so he’s loved – and hated. I rarely write about football; I amuse myself arguing with Lippi and Capello because there’s always something to learn and I admit that I’d love to have the opportunity to talk about sport with Mou because he has a lively mind. It’s not by accident that he was chosen by colleagues from around the world as Number 1.

In Antalya we also asked who would be top scorer in South Africa and Lionel Messi won hands down, being chosen 43%. He was followed by Rooney with 14.9%, Kaka with 9.2%, Fabiano with 8.1%, Torres with 6.9%, Ronaldo and Villa with 5.8%, Drogba with 4.6% and Klose with 1.2%.

Brazil was considered the favourite for the title with a margin of 4.4% over Argentina, i.e. 28.3% against 23.9%, followed by Spain at 19.6%, England at 10.9%, Italy and Germany at 6.5% and the Netherlands at 4.4%.