Mourinho joy as Sneijder strikes early to send Inter into last four

CSKA Moscow 0 Internazionale 1 (Inter win 2-0 on aggregate)


Internazionale cruised into the last four of the Champions League for the first time since 2003 last night as Jose Mourinho's side produced a controlled and professional performance that made light of any fears they would struggle to defend a slender 1-0 first-leg advantage in Moscow.

After only six minutes Wesley Sneijder had doubled that aggregate lead when his low free-kick found its way through the CSKA Moscow wall and beyond goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev. Things got worse for the hosts when they had substitute Chidi Odiah sent off early in the second half and Inter were comfortably able to repel any pressure from the Russian side.

Overhauling their first-leg deficit always looked like being a tough task for CSKA, given the way they were outplayed at San Siro last week and the absence of key midfielder Yevgeny Aldonin and Milos Krasic through suspension. But they had an early effort on goal from Japan midfielder Keisuke Honda, who dragged a long-range effort wide. Then Inter landed an early body blow as they opened the scoring.

Sneijder drilled in a low free-kick that flew under the leaping wall and fooled Akinfeev to end up in the back of the net. That goal meant the hosts needed to score three goals to have any chance of going through and Inter went close to getting their second goal of the night as Macedonian striker Goran Pandev had a sight of goal, but Akinfeev comfortably held his shot.

Conceding prompted an early response from CSKA manager Leonid Slutsky as he took off defender Vasili Berezutsky after just 14 minutes to replace him with Odiah. Honda then fired wide with two optimistic free-kick efforts from distance, but the home side did go close to grabbing a goal back when Tomas Necid fired agonisingly wide after controlling Odiah's pass in the 24th minute.

CSKA then carved out another chance in the 34th minute as they broke quickly through Mark Gonzalez, but Alan Dzagoev made a mess of the finish, scuffing the ball infield as he drove into the box. That miss was almost instantly punished as Sneijder's excellent lofted ball played Diego Milito in, but the Argentine forward could only hit his shot at Akinfeev.

Odiah then saw Julio Cesar tip his shot round the post at the other end, but the Italian champions looked comfortable soaking up any CSKA pressure.

Just after half-time Odiah was dismissed as his rash lunge for a loose ball saw him bring down Samuel Eto'o to earn a second yellow card. But they continued to push forward in search of a goal and Gonzalez had two chances in the space of a minute. The former Liverpool winger first smashed a half-volley that Cesar did well to hang on to, before dragging another effort wide from the edge of the box.

With 20 minutes to go Mourinho's side were dominating possession, sweeping the ball around almost at will, and Sneijder and Dejan Stankovic both forced Akinfeev into action with powerful efforts. The keeper then did superbly to keep out Milito's effort when the Inter striker was through on goal.

The game rather petered out from that point, although Eto'o just failed to add a second as he shot over the bar in the final minutes.

CSKA Moscow (4-2-3-1): Akinfeev; A Berezutsky, V Berezutsky (Odiah, 14), Ignashevich, Shchennikov; Semberas, Mamaev; Dzagoev, Honda (Rahimic, 77), Gonzalez; Necid (Guilherme, 71). Substitutes not used: Chepchugov (gk), Nababkin, Piliev, Oliseh.

Internazionale (4-2-3-1): Cesar; Maicon, Lucio, Samuel, Zanetti; Stankovic, Cambiasso; Pandev (Chivu, 63), Sneijder (Muntari, 86), Eto'o; Milito (Balotelli, 74). Substitutes not used: Orlandoni (gk), Cordoba, Quaresma, Materazzi.

Referee: S Lannoy (France).

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