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Inter reach last 16
November 28, 2007 09:36 IST
Inter Milan marched into the Champions League knockout stage after fortunate second-half goals from strikers Julio Cruz and Zlatan Ibrahimovic set up a 3-0 home win over Fenerbahce on Tuesday.
Inter will finish top of Group G with a game to spare having reached 12 points. Fenerbahce stay second on eight but are now just a point ahead of PSV Eindhoven, who won 1-0 at CSKA Moscow [Images].
The Italian champions took the lead 10 minutes into the second half at the San Siro when Maxwell's low cross came off sliding defender Edu and rebounded on to Cruz and into the net.
Ibrahimovic then took his Champions League tally this term to five with a cool finish after the ball somehow found its way to him across the penalty area.
Fenerbahce's defence had been distracted by a long injury break while forward Semih Senturk was treated and were still asleep moments later allowing the Swede lots of time to pick his spot in the top right corner from the middle of the area.
Substitute Luis Jimenez, a tricky midfielder who has hardly featured this term after arriving from Lazio, wrapped up the win in stoppage time with a composed strike to give coach Roberto Mancini a perfect 43rd birthday present.
Inter could have scored several more goals late in the second half with David Suazo being denied and Ivan Cordoba striving forward from the back only to chose the wrong option when faced by the opposition goal.
Fenerbahce's best effort came when captain Alex shot narrowly wide from the edge of the area just before Inter opened the scoring in the 55th minute.
The Turks must beat already-eliminated CSKA in Istanbul in two weeks' time to guarantee a place in the last 16 because a draw would leave the door open for PSV who host Inter.
Eindhoven's 1-0 win in Moscow earlier on Tuesday meant there was still work for both teams at the San Siro if they were to seal their qualification.
At times in the first half it looked as they had yet to wake up to that fact, with the final ball often going astray.
Inter's Serbian midfielder Dejan Stankovic, making his comeback from an ankle injury, looked slightly rusty when heading over early on and then blasting wide after a clever header from Esteban Cambiasso.
UEFA Champions League 2007-08: The Complete Coverage