Eurozone: Siena hit 'The Wall' as Mourinho's men steal points in thriller

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The Independent Online

At this rate when Jose Mourinho welcomes Chelsea to Milan next month, Internazionale will already be within touching distance of the Italian title. They moved momentarily 11 points clear of the field ahead of last night's second-plays-third encounter between Milan and Juventus with the kind of victory that earns sides championships.

With two minutes left they were 3-2 down and losing their unbeaten home record against rock bottom Siena but they mustered two goals from nothing inside four minutes to take all three points.

It was a strange night all round – Jose Mourinho doesn't usually do seven-goal thrillers. This was the first time Inter had conceded more than one goal since they faced Juventus at the start of last month Veteran centre-half Walter Samuel (above) doesn't usually skip through defences to score last-gasp winners but someone had to with Mario Balotelli suspended and Samuel Eto'o on African Nations Cup duty. The Inter coach doesn't usually say anything nice about his opposite number, either.

"If I had to lose the unbeaten home record then I would prefer to do it like this with a coach that I like than with one I did not like," said Mourinho afterwards of Alberto Malesani in the rival dugout. "We spoke together after the game. It was a conversation between one manager who was very happy to have won a war that it seemed like he was going to lose and another who had lost a battle it seemed he was going to win. Even a point for them would have been important in terms of their position in the table and for their morale.

"It was a victory earned by character and some good luck but I feel for Siena and their coach. We were physically a bit weak in the first half but we improved and it would have been bad luck had we lost the game."

They looked like losing after former Middlesbrough striker Massimo Maccarone scored his second of the match on 64 minutes to put the strugglers 3-2 up. But with two minutes left of normal time Wesley Sneijder scored his second free-kick of the game and two minutes into stoppage time Samuel got the winner.

The Argentine stopper is in the twilight of his career and he has not earned the nickname "The Wall" for his mobility. But pushed up to play at centre-forward by Mourinho he beat the offside trap to seal the points.

"We often make that change when we are losing," Mourinho said. "This time it was Walter's turn. Once Sneijder got the equaliser I thought we could win it."

Sneijder's double was his first for the club since signing from Real Madrid in the summer. Overlooked by the Premier League as Real Madrid forced him out at the end of last season to bring in some of the money they had already spent on Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo, Mourinho signed him for €16m (£14.4m) and the Dutchman is repaying the faith shown in him.

Argentine centre-forward Diego Milito grabbed the other goal and the whole team held up a shirt wishing Romanian central defender Cristian Chivu a speedy recovery. Chivu needed an emergency operation after fracturing his skull against Chievo last week.

The Siena players were furious with the decision to add on four minutes at the end and Sanchez Cribari was sent off as he sought out the referee en route to the tunnel. Malesani disputed the free-kick from which Sneijder equalised in the 88th minute. "The referee was unacceptable," he said. "You cannot give the decision he gave at the end which allowed them to score."

Everyone's talking about: Sergio Canales

Still only 18 and out of contract at the end of the season, Racing Santander's attacking midfielder Sergio Canales was always going to be a wanted man next May, but after this weekend's performance against Seville the battle for his services looks set to intensify and even brought forward to the current winter transfer window.

Both Barcelona and Real Madrid have watched the teenager (right), who twice made fools of a Champions League standard defence on Saturday as Racing beat Manolo Jiminez's side 2-1 in the Sanchez Pizjuan. He sprang the offside trap on 25 minutes to send a delicate lob over Andres Palop and then he added a fine individual second on 37 minutes, once more at the expense of Palop, who was left on the seat of his shorts on the edge of the penalty area as the youngster scored his fourth goal in seven games.

Canales' father acts as his agent and was keen for his son to sign a new deal before the season started but Racing refused and could now pay the price by seeing their prize asset leave for free at the end of the season.

The club, who part-own the player with Deportivo de La Coruña, are hoping a deal can be struck now with one of the "big two", ensuring they at least receive some money and have the player immediately loaned back to them. The Racing coach, Miguel Angel Portugal, said: "It is a question for the president and the directors, but for the good of the team it would be best if he stayed here at least until he matured. His family will have a big say in what happens now."

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