Inter Milan beats Manchester City in a preseason friendly in Baltimore

(Toni L. Sandys - Washington Post)
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By Jorge Castillo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 1, 2010

BALTIMORE -- It may have been a preseason friendly for two of the world's best clubs but Saturday night's match between reigning Champions League winner Inter Milan and English Premier League's Manchester City didn't turn out to be much of a friendly affair.

The contest featured four yellow cards, a red card, and plenty of aggressive play as Inter Milan dominated on the way to a 3-0 victory in front of an Inter-leaning crowd of 36,569 at M&T Bank Stadium.

"I think that means that the game was good and important for everyone," Inter Manager Rafael Benitez said. "We wanted to impress, they wanted to impress. Sometimes these things happen . . . it is good for the game."

The physicality began from the outset when Inter's Goran Pandev and City's Victor Kompany were each booked in the 19th minute when Pandev took exception to Kompany's tackle from behind. Clutching his leg on the ground one second, Pandev got up, ran over to Kompany the next and pushed the Belgian national. A shoving match ensued with both teams converging to separate the two players.

Two minutes later City was put at a disadvantage for the remainder of the exhibition when Mexican referee Baldomero Toedo sent City midfielder Patrick Vieira off with a red card. The card was granted when Vieira elbowed Inter defender Marco Materazzi in the back of the head jumping for a header.

Boos from the Baltimore crowd rained after the decision was broadcast on the video screens.

"We was trying to get players minutes as well in the game," said City assistant manager Brian Kidd, who was filling in for Manager Roberto Mancini after Mancini left the team on Friday for personal reasons. "We had planned to make changes, to get players playing time. So obviously when that happened, it altered things slightly. And that's not making it an excuse."

From a seemingly impossible angle, Inter forward Victor Obinna turned the man advantage into a goal in the 38th minute. Obinna received a pass from midfielder Esteban Cambiasso and struck a shot with his left foot from the goalkeeper's right just inside the box that stayed on the ground and snuck past City goalkeeper Joe Hart.

In the 54th minute Inter went on the counterattack following a City corner and Obinna found himself alone to the goalie's right just outside the six-yard box, but a bad first touch allowed the City defense to recover. Instead of shooting, Obinna crossed the ball in front of the City goal, which deflected off City defender Joleon Lescott for an own goal to double the lead.

Eighteen-year-old midfielder Cristiano Biraghi buried a laser top shelf from 30 yards out in the 74th minute to seal the win for Inter.

After Vieira was sent off in the 21st minute, City were unable to generate enough scoring chances. Perhaps City's best scoring chance came in the first minute when striker Emmanuel Adebayor got behind the Inter back line but had his shot blocked.

Inter almost tripled City's shot attempts, 14-5.

"Today going in there with 10 men didn't help," Kidd said. "The one thing is the players stuck at it. They never gave in. They gave whatever they can. . . . There are going to be a few tired players going back on the plane tonight."

The two teams had the majority of their first-team players in uniform but there were a few notable exceptions in the aftermath of the World Cup. Those included City's Carlos Tévez, Nigel de Jong and Roque Santa Cruz, and Inter's Wesley Sneijder, Diego Milito, and Lúcio.

Inter's Samuel Eto'o was one of the stars in uniform and received a hearty applause when he entered the contest in the 62nd minute.

In all, 19 players saw action for Inter Milan and City played 18.

The match was City's final in its U.S. tour and Inter's first of three. City lost three of five in the United States and will next take the pitch against Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday. Inter plays MLS's FC Dallas on Thursday at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Tex.

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