Ok, so it wasnt pretty and technically both those goals for Inter were Catania own-goals, but damn it, we get the 3 points anyway. And boy do we need them. This was a frustrating game for the Nerazzurri: we had many chances in front of goal but just could not get past Bizzarri. And of course, it would not be an Inter game without a sending off and a controversial ref call. In this case, Muntari was sent off at the end of the first half and there was a question as to whether the ball completely crossed the line for the second goal or not - the ref and linesman said yes but the moviole has not confirmed to the liking of the media. Here are the highlights, you can see for yourself:
The fans welcomed Walter Zenga with a banner reading "The Nord Never Forgets its Heroes: Walter Zenga will always be one of us" and a giant "W 1 Z." Also, Zanetti gave him a jersey with his name and the number 473, the number of games the Spiderman played for the club.
Maicon was simply stunning. As the photo above shows, it was an emotional game for Douglas. He had a couple chances at goal but was not able to finish. He pressed up the flanks, he shut down Catania's offense, he created chances around the box, and was the architect of the controversial second goal.
Quaresma had a fine debut. He made the cross that found it's way into the back of the net for the equalizer and, despite a few disappearances early in the first half, came back to menace Catania. I think his contribution will only grow. Remember, he has only played with the team for 2 weeks - I am happily anticipating what a Mancini - Ibra - Quaresma will look like in a month or so.
Mancini showed great vision and accuracy when he came onto the pitch for the second half. Plus, he plays like he has something to prove and I like that. So long as he does not disappear as he did at Roma, we may have a shot yet.
At the rear, Marco actually had a pretty good game, not quite 2006/7, but much better than last season. He made at least 4 critical saves - and without fouling anyone! Also, Nico Burdisso was knocked unconscious and still managed to get back up, shake it off, and continue in the game. Now that is dedication! It just makes Tedesco's histrionics that much more pathetic. But we will get there later
Lastly, we played the whole second half with ten men and still spent most of 45 minutes in Catania's half.
Good For Them:
Well, Catania scored a humdinger of a goal. A great cross into the box that Plasmati headed expertly past JC. It sucks to be scored on, but at least it was a good finish. Also, just as you would expect from a team coached by Walter Zenga, Catania's keeper, Bizzarri had a practically miraculous game -- I remember at least 3 one-handed gut-reaction saves. While Mourniho may be over-stating things a bit when he said "the right result would have been 3-1, 4-1 or 5-1 to us," Inter would have had a more convincing win were it not for Bizzarri.
The Bad Stuff:
Probably the worst part of the game for me was that neither of the 2 goals for Inter were actually entirely scored by Inter. I hate it when we win by questionable ref calls.
Ibrahimovic, where fore art thou? It was amazing that he was not able to score with the kind of service he was receiving. He was largely absent in the first half, but rallied in the second (pep talk from Mou in the dressing room?) only be denied by Bizzarri. Still, for what we pay him, he needs to be in the game whenever he is on the pitch. With his reputation for checking out in Champions League games, this Tuesday will be the real test.
The referee. Damato gave out a total of 9 cards: 3 yellow, 1 red to Inter; 5 yellow to Catania. Muntari's red was waaaay overkill.
Giacomo Tedesco's masterful piece on The Art of Diving. Tedesco and Muntari were having a bit of a scuffle for the ball in the midfield and Muntari raised his arm, slapping Tedesco in the face. Well, Tedesco threw himself to the ground and rolled around for about a minute. And then to say: "I didn’t do any play-acting and in fact have a split lip" just makes it appear all the worse. Muntari was shown a straight red while Tedesco was shown yellow. In the end, Muntari agreed that a red card was warranted for the raised hand but that: "not even a child would’ve fallen in such a dramatic fashion. He went to ground as if struck by Mohammed Ali!"
Whatever the circumstances we have 3 points from the game which is essential for a Scudetto challenge. I know it is a marathon and not a sprint, but we must make full points against the bottom 10 teams so there is more wiggle room with the upper 10. Despite Zenga's turn-around of the team, I think Catania is still a bottom 10 team. Onward and upward.