Champions League - Inter top group after draw

Tue, 22 Nov 21:39:00 2011

Internazionale secured their position as Champions League Group B winners after a 1-1 draw against Trabzonspor at the Hüseyin Avni Aker.

2011-12 Champions League Internazionale Ricky Alvarez - 0

Ricky Alvarez notched his first goal in Nerazzurri colours after 18 minutes and despite Halil Altintop's deflected leveller five minutes later Claudio Ranieri's side claimed the point they needed to qualify for the knockout phases of the competition as group winners.

For Trabzonspor, the disappointment of failing to complete a famous double over Inter - they won the reverse fixture 1-0 in Milan on the opening matchday - was tempered by their stealing a march on CSKA Moscow and Lille. The Turkish side move into second place, a point ahead of their group rivals going into the final round of matches.

Inter's place in the knockout phases had already been booked without even kicking a ball in Trabzon after Lille stunned CSKA 2-0 in the early kick-off. That result ensured the former European champions' progress from Group B, and gave them the chance to claim top spot with one game left to play.

Claudio Ranieri's side did not disappoint, although they had to do so without playmaker Wesley Sneijder, with the Dutchman ruled out after sustaining a thigh injury in the warm-up ahead of the 2-1 win over Cagliari at the weekend.

Trabzonspor welcomed back Giray Kacar and top scorer Burak Yilmaz to the starting XI and they gave the full-house crowd plenty of encouragement early on as they took the game to their more illustrious opponents.

Inter, seemingly impervious to their awful Serie A form when playing in the Champions League, soon settled and on 18 minutes they took the lead as Alvarez played a simple yet utterly devastating one-two with Diego Milito that sliced open the Trabzonspor defence like a hot knife through butter. The finish from Alvarez matched the approach play and he expertly side-footed past Tolga Zengin to silence the crowd.

The home faithful were frustrated again just three minutes later when Yilmaz wasted a glorious chance to get back on level terms, the striker poking agonisingly wide of the mark from the excellent Gustavo Colman's through pass.

But the crowd were bouncing again soon after when Trabzonspor got the goal their early efforts deserved. Altintop's 25-yard effort took a heavy deflection off Walter Samuel, leaving Julio Cesar rooted to the spot as the ball crashed in off the underside of the bar.

The goal instilled a sense of belief in the hosts and chances to capitalise fell in swift succession to Alanzinho and Yilmaz, although neither were able to take them.

Inter were still dangerous on the break though and with the pace of Mauro Zarate remaining a potent threat, it came as no surprise to see him race clear on 36 minutes. Only some alert goalkeeping from Zengin denied the Argentine.

The start to the second half mirrored that of the opening period, as Trabzonspor began brightly and Inter took their time to settle.

But again the hosts were unable to make the most of their positive start and they were nearly made to pay when Dejan Stankovic fired a volley from the edge of the box that Zengin was forced to deal with.

Zarate then had a great chance to give back the lead to Inter, but first Zengin and then a crucial block by Polish defender Arkadiusz Glowacki on the follow-up kept parity.

Trabzonspor came back into the match as the second half wore on and Inter's influence dwindled, but clear-cut chances to take their enviable record against Inter to 3-1 were few and far between.

A golden chance did arrive with 14 minutes remaining though when substitute Adrian Mierzejewski saw his header cannon back off the post after a sublime delivery from Ondrej Celustka - scorer of the only goal in September's first fixture.

That proved to be the most the Turkish side could muster, and Inter ran down the clock to secure the point that sees them join their city rivals AC Milan in the hat for the round of 16.

Mike Hytner / Eurosport

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