Milito goal the perfect first step on march to Moscow

It was the one, two or maybe even three goals that got away at the San Siro on Wednesday evening.

Inter should be heading to Moscow with progress to the semi-finals of the Champions League all but ensured.

Instead of which, all they have to show for their numerous chances is a single strike from Diego Milito against a physical but bland-looking CSKA Moscow – much like the eastern-European hitmen in the Bourne movies they never threatened to deliver the killer blow.

It was the occasion rather than the opposition that drew an almost full house which was in full voice as the home side swept forward - no doubt on the back of Jose Mourinho’s plea for affection after claiming that no one in Italy likes him.

Internazionale, as the name suggests, has never been concerned where their coach, players or even fans come from so as chances fell and were then squandered by an Argentine, a Serb, a Dutchman and a Macedonian those in the stands were united in feeling that it was going to be one of those evenings.

When the breakthrough finally arrived, it was once again the ‘Prince’ who made his bow with a goal that was equal if not better than the precise finish against Chelsea – further out and with no time to hit the ball with any back-lift.

Milito has arrived on Europe’s big stage as something of a late bloomer but the South American is making up for lost time much in the same manner he has on the domestic front.

Each of the 30-year-old’s three goals have helped shape Inter’s progress in the competition: the first in Kiev came when the Nerazzurri were in danger of elimination at the group stage and of course the early goal against Chelsea set the team on their way to conquering the English side over two legs.

The latest goal was not a prelude to a Russian capitulation, coming as it did shortly after the hour-mark, although goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev has to take plenty of the credit for keeping CSKA hopes alive – and a few Serie A sides should be keeping close tabs on him. 

However, there were enough positives from an Inter side, playing at a much higher tempo than we ever see on the weekends, to suggest that the long march to Moscow will have its ultimate reward of a semi-final berth.

Dejan Stankovic was back to his muscular best, snuffing out any opposition threat before it could gain momentum - and the injury-prone midfielder can now rest up for next Tuesday.

Wesley Sneijder regained his composure on the ball after a hot and bothered performance in Rome while Samuel Eto’o and Goran Pandev dovetailed perfectly with the majestic Milito.

CSKA will obviously be a much more dangerous side going forward on their artificial surface at the Luzhniki Stadium but Mourinho demonstrated at Stamford Bridge that his men can form a resistance movement to ambush any opponent that strays too far into Nerazzurri territory.

There is no reason to head East and settle on defending a one-goal lead – not with the personnel available and a striker like Milito to inflict a decisive away goal.

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