The LOSC went down 2-1 in Milan against an excellent Inter side on Match Day 4 of the UEFA Champions League. The Nerrazzurri showed all their experience, as they did in the first match, to get the better of a 'naive' Lille side. The LOSC can still qualify for the knockout stage of the competition after Moscow and Trabzonspor drew 0-0.
Nothing more to lose? That's definitely how Les Dogues were approaching this first return leg of the group phase, witting bottom of the section and facing elimination if there's no change in the standings. This was the setting for a Lille side that needed to fire with both barrels in the most anticipated of matches in Milan. Against a vastly experienced Inter, there's no place for calculations. They may be struggling in Serie A, but they want to wrap up UCL qualification as quickly as possible. Both sides faced up playing in 4-4-2 formations with Sow and Jelen up front for the visiting French side. Kick-off was given by the illustrious referee, Herr Stark, from Germany. Game on...
The start of the match was very much in the home side's favour and Lille owed much to the efforts of Landreau in goal, just as it was against Valenciennes: Milito, released by Chivu in behind Rozehnal, saw his lob come off the crossbar (2’). After a tough start, Les Dogues slowly played their way into the game: Jelen and then Pedretti both had chances without finding the back of the net (9’). Then came the pressure from the visitors: Hazard's free-kick, Pedretti corners, Cole's cross, but no success (14’, 15’, 16’). Inter had their chances and Zarate forced Landreau into action (18’). Sneijder's resulting corner picked out the head of Samuel to open the scoring (1-0, 19’). After the half hour, Sow tried his luck from distance, without success (35’). Tactically, the Italians played very well, hitting on the counter-attack with frightening speed and precision. The LOSC was struggling to find answers. In terms of possession and territorial domination, the LOSC had the majority of both. But they didn't take their chances, and it was the Italians that showed the cutting edge as Zarate and Milito were both denied by a vigilant Landreau (40’, 42’). Trailing 1-0 at half-time, the LOSC still had everything to play for.
But the start of the second half strongly resembled the first: Milito, unmarked in front of goal, lifted his shot over the bar when it looked easier to score (47’). The game came to life: Hazard replied for the French side with a crisp shot that flashed just wide of the left-hand upright (49’). Milito burst clean through on goal but Landreau was again on hand to deny the Argentine (53’). Rozehnal then fired high (54’), just like Sow's header from a corner (57’). With an hour gone, the home side stepped up the pace, driven forward by the excellent Zanetti. He broke through on the right and crossed for Milito who made no mistake with the offering (2-0, 65’). Things just got a whole lot tougher for the LOSC… In terms of chances, there were those to Hazard (72’), Obraniak (73’) and Alavares (75’), without worrying the scorers. But just as all hope seemed to have evaporated, with ten minutes left, De Melo took advantage of a goal-mouth scramble to beat Castellazzi with an inspired finish (2-1, 83’). Imagine if Les Dogues pulled a draw out of the fire...? It was now that Inter's experience shone through: substitutions, clever fouls, etc... They ran through their repertoire to conserve the result, and they did just that. Still bottom of the group with two points, the LOSC still hasn't said its last word in the Champions League. Two wins in their final two matches will still qualify the French champions for the knock-out stages of the competition. Next step: CSKA Moscow, on 22 November (18:00 Central European Time).
Team sheet: UEFA Champions League Group B Match Day 4
(Wednesday 2 November, 20:45 CET)
Inter Milan-LOSC 2-1 (1-0)
Stadio Giuseppe Meazza
Referee: Wolfgang Stark (GER)
Goals: Samuel (19’), Zanetti (65’) for Inter Milan; De Melo (83’) for LOSC
Bookings: Samuel (89’) for Inter Milan; Béria (86’) for LOSC
Castellazzi - Zanetti, Lucio, Samuel, Chivu - Stankovic, Thiago Motta, Cambiasso – Sneijder (Alvarez, 67’) - Milito (Obi, 90’), Zarate (Pazzini, 79’)
Coach: Claudio Ranieri
Landreau - Debuchy, Rozehnal, Chedjou, Béria - Cole (Payet, 71’), Pedretti, Mavuba, Hazard - Jelen (De Melo, 46’), Sow (Obraniak, 60’)
Coach: Rudi Garcia