Inter scrape past hard-working Krakow

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The Independent Football

Internazionale limped into the third round of the Uefa Cup on aggregate despite defeat to a Wisla Krakow side inspired by an early strike from Maciej Zurawski yesterday.

The Poles consistently frustrated the Inter frontline and could even have forced extra time in the final minute, but Miroslaw Szymkowiak's free kick was blocked to leave an unimpressive Inter losers on the day, but winners overall.

Any Inter thoughts of a leisurely afternoon sitting on their two-goal cushion from the San Siro victory two weeks ago were dispelled as early as the fourth minute. Zurawski latched on to a long ball to get behind the Italians' defence and slip the ball under Alberto Fontana. That goal threw the tie wide open again and left Inter clearly stunned as Wisla's confidence grew as they pushed hard for the aggregate equaliser.

Six yellow cards in an untidy first 20 minutes of the second period provided the disruption to the Poles' momentum that Inter wanted. And they started to apply some pressure of their own in the hunt for the away goal that would leave Wisla needing a further three to progress.

Luigi Di Biaggio narrowly failed to connect at the far post with a 68th-minute Stephane Dalmat free-kick. Nicola Ventola, a second-half substitute, then headed weakly into Fontana's arms from another Dalmat cross.

The Milan side would have paid for their profligacy if Szymkowiak's had done better with his late free-kick.

The Inter manager Hector Cuper did not hide his relief. "We have been fortunate but in Trieste we played well and we could have scored many more goals," Cuper said.

The Brazil striker Ronaldo watched the match from the bench as Cuper felt the conditions were too "treacherous" for him. He has yet to play a full match since returning from his long hiatus through knee injury.

"The pitch was bad and the match was too harsh," Cuper added. "The number of yellow cards [there were nine in total] goes to show the harshness and intensity of the match. I didn't think it was a match for Ronaldo to play in."