Posted by Barrie on Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Advantage Mourinho: Inter 2-1 Chelsea

Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan will take a 2-1 lead to Stamford Bridge for their Champions League second leg tie with Chelsea in 3 weeks.

Inside 3 minutes, Diego Milito was allowed to cut inside John Terry and fire into the bottom corner for a 1-0 lead. The Argentinian striker was quiet after that but his goal was invaluable.

Chelsea had a few chances afterwards, including a long range free kick from Didier Drogba that came out off the underside of the cross bar in the first half. The Blues could have been awarded a penalty on the stoke of half time when Salomon Kalou was dragged down by Walter Samuel inside the six yard box, one-on-one with Julio Cesar. It wasn't to be, but it was Kalou who stroke the ball past Cesar 5 minutes into the second half. Mourinho won't be happy with the defending that saw Branislav Ivanovic walk around the Inter 18 yard box before laying it off to Kalou, whose shot should have been saved by the Brazilian number 1.

Less than 5 minutes after Kalou had equalised, Esteban Cambiasso blasted Inter back in front from the edge of the area. Inter saw the game out after that and worse news for Chelsea saw Petr Cech go down on the hour mark with a knee injury that looked serious. Hilario replaced him but the loss of Cech will be a big blow for the remainder of their campaign if it turns out to be as serious as it first looked.

The away goal for Chelsea is big, but Inter are on top in this tie. Jose Mourinho's teams in the past have been successful at parking the bus and sitting on leads. Lucio kept Didier Drogba in check this evening. Nicolas Anelka was ineffective and Frank Lampard didn't test Julio Cesar. Opportunities looked hard to come by for Chelsea tonight as Inter defended well as a team in both open play and at set pieces. The Premier League leaders cannot afford to go all out in attack at home with the likes of Samuel Eto'o, Diego Milito, Wesley Sneijder, Goran Pandev and Mario Balotelli all capable of hurting Chelsea on the break.

Manchester United are the only English side in the Champions League who take a lead into their second leg, having won 3-2 in the San Siro against AC Milan last week. They look comfortable but cannot rest on their laurels with a defence that has shown vulnerability this season.

Arsenal are still favourites to qualify for the quarter finals despite losing 2-1 in Porto last week. Two moments of madness cost them the 2 goals and they rarely threatened the Portuguese sides goal in the away leg. Arsenal, as like Chelsea, are more comfortable on their home turf and I can understand the bookies choice to make them favourites. I won't be backing them any more though as I backed the Gunners in-play when they went a goal down in Portugal during the first leg!

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