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Samuel Eto'o headbutt controversy as Inter Milan lose again

Under-pressure Internazionale coach Rafa Benitez has defended striker Samuel Eto’o for an alleged headbutting incident during the 2-1 defeat at Chievo.

Eto’o was caught by TV cameras butting home defender Bostjan Cesar in the chest and he could yet face retrospective action from the Italian Football Federation.

Benitez said after the game: “You can see he got punched and was provoked. He reacted this way and lost control.

“It’s a shame, but there are four officials on the field and if they didn’t consider it to be an incident worth acting on, then clearly that’s their opinion.”

Of his own position with the Nerazzurri, Benitez added: “Clearly after a defeat nobody is happy, but the players worked hard and showed what they had to in terms of character.

“Clearly a side like ours has to win a game of this nature, but the lads did work hard.

“I am a professional coach and have already lived through situations like this. The only way to change the tide is to work and today I saw the players look for the victory.”

AC Milan head coach Massimiliano Allegri was full of praise for his side after they secured a narrow 1-0 win at home to Fiorentina to remain top of the Serie A table.

A Zlatan Ibrahimovic strike right on half-time proved decisive in the San Siro, with Allegri admitting that his team had had to fight all the way for three points.

He told Sky Italia: “We secured a suffering victory this evening.

“This victory is an important sign of the unity within the side. We have reached a mental balance that is also evident in training during the week.

“I also believe the side showed real character, because the win came while under pressure. We never lost our concentration and were gritty right to the end.

“There is Serie A and the Champions League. I am glad to note that the players put in a strong performance every time,

“I am happy for the entire squad and praise must be paid to the boys at the back who rolled up their sleeves and battled when they looked to come back at us.”