Inter 1-1 Bari: Serie A Holders Held By Dogged Galletti

Jose Mourinho, seen here in March 2009, hit out at Italian football once again on Wednesday, insisting that the English league is a paradise for coaches in comparison.

Champions Inter began their title defence of Serie A by drawing with Bari at the San Siro with a score of one-a-piece.

The Nerazzurri had trouble breaking down a very defensive Bari side, even if they were in control of the ball for large periods of the match and needed a penalty to open the scoring, before an equaliser by a spirited Bari.

Nerazzurri coach Jose Mourinho opted for an experienced line-up, including veterans Marco Materazzi and Patrick Vieira in his starting XI as the Galletti stayed with the 4-4-2 formation that worked for them so well in the second division last season.

The first dangerous chance fell to Inter after five minutes as Samuel Eto’o and Diego Milito showed signs of their improving partnership with a one-two, before the former Barcelona star’s low effort was saved by the outstretched foot of goalkeeper Jean-Francois Gillet.

Bari attempted to hit back on the counter, but Edgar Alvarez’s lofted cross was headed well over by Ferdinando Sforzini.

The southern Italian side defended in numbers and waited for counter-attack opportunities with Inter unable to break-through as the match entered a fairly dry spell until a deflection sent Sforzini past the Inter defence before Vieira was forced to take him down on the edge of the box, earning a booking. However, Ricardo Allegretti’s set-piece was straight at Julio Cesar.

Milito had an excellent chance to open the scoring soon after 26 minutes, as the French midfielder chipped the ball into the centre of the box, but the ex-Genoa striker volleyed the ball just over the crossbar.

Mourinho, perhaps not impressed with his team thus far, switched to a 4-3-3, by bringing in starlet Mario Balotelli for Sulley Muntari.

Milito was once again involved, as his deflected cross went behind the Galletti shot stopper, and dribbled on the goal line, but did not cross it, as Bari were spared some blushes and the event remained scoreless.

After a period of sustained pressure Maicon’s mazy run saw him fouled on the edge of the area and Balotelli’s cross-shot was just an inch too far for the lunging Milito to convert.

With the half nearly finished, Thiago Motta’s shot from a central position bounced just wide. Thus, despite the lion’s share of possession, the hosts were unable to break the deadlock in a fairly sterile first period.

‘The Special One’ made another offensive change to begin the second-half, with Ricardo Quaresma replacing Vieira as the Nerazzurri went into all-out attack mode.

Lucio got his head to a corner, but on the way to goal it was was kicked away for another, but the resulting set-piece did not trouble the Bari defence.

Inter’s pressure finally paid off on 56 minutes when Stankovic regained possession in midfield and the ball was eventually played wide to Balotelli, who crossed the ball in for ‘Il Principe.’ Milito was pushed from behind and a penalty was given, converted by Eto’o to make it 1-0!

There call seemed a bit harsh, even if there was contact, but there were no real protests from the Bari players towards the referee.

The hosts should have made it 2-0 soon after, as Milito dribbled into the area and cut back for Eto’o, but the unmarked Cameroon star missed from the centre of the area.

The promoted side continued to be on the back foot and defender Andrea Masiello fouled Quaresma in frustration, resulting in a yellow card with 20 minutes remaining.

Amazingly, Bari hit back on a textbook counter attack as Vitali Kutuzov controlled Antonio Langella’s pass and slotted past the home side’s Brazilian shot stopper to tie up the match!

Inter were now pressing forward in numbers for a winner and the match opened up considerably as Milito earned a fruitless corner and Kutuzov nearly shocked the crowd on the counter once more as the ball came off the fingertips of the alert Julio Cesar.

Quaresma and Balotelli, who saw the ball often on the wings put in a number of crosses, but Gillet and the Bari back-line were equal to the task as they began to clam up with five minutes left.

Bari almost earned a historic win, as Thiago Motta’s errant pass led to a glorious chance for Emanuel Rivas, who fired it over the bar under pressure from Ivan Cordoba and that was the end of the action in the match, that finished 1-1.

Goal

~ by footballdirecta on August 24, 2009.

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