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Inter beat Ajax to set up Villarreal clash
March 15, 2006 04:34 IST
Inter Milan set up a Champions League quarter-final with Villarreal when a superb goal by Dejan Stankovic gave them a 1-0 win over Ajax Amsterdam on Tuesday to complete a 3-2 victory on aggregate.
The midfielder's 57th-minute strike sealed a deserved victory for the home side after they created a string of chances, although they missed a first-half penalty when Brazilian forward Adriano hit his spot-kick wide.
The result, which means three Italian teams are through to the last eight, completed the quarter-final lineup. The other matches see Benfica facing Barcelona, Arsenal versus Juventus and Olympique Lyon against AC Milan.
Inter play the first leg of their quarter-final at the San Siro on March 29, with the return at the Madrigal on April 4.
The Italians spent most of the opening 30 minutes camped in the Ajax half, having created their first chance in the second minute when an Adriano shot rebounded off a defender to Luis Figo, who curled the ball over the bar.
Adriano's strike partner, Obafemi Martins, went even closer in the 12th minute when the ball broke loose to him just outside the area and his fierce dipping shot hit the bar.
The Dutch side appeared to succumb to the pressure in the 26th minute when their captain, Olaf Lindenbergh, handled a Stankovic cross to give Inter a penalty but Adriano scuffed the ball wide with his favoured left foot.
Having survived that scare, Ajax began to make the occasional foray forward, though long-range shots by Lindenbergh and Mauro Rosales failed to test Inter keeper Francesco Toldo.
A minute before halftime Inter left-back Patrick Wome curled in a cross for Adriano on the edge of the box but the Brazilian's first touch let him down and the ball was cleared to cap a frustrating first half for the home side.
Inter began the second half as they had the first, with Adriano catching defender Thomas Vermaelen in possession before running into the area and sending over a cross which was too high for Martins.
Inter's Walter Samuel began the move that finally broke the deadlock. The Argentina defender intercepted an Ajax pass and pumped the ball forward to Stankovic who ran down the left, cut round Maduro and curled the ball home at the far post.
Ajax never looked like scoring the two goals they needed to win the match. The closest they came to hitting the target was seven minutes from time when Steven Pienaar unleashed a 25-metre drive which was directed straight at Toldo.
UEFA Champions League 2005-06: The Complete Coverage