Rafa's reign off to slow start
Updated: August 27, 2010, 8:00 AM BSTRafael Benitez's first European match in charge of Inter Milan ended in disappointment for the former Liverpool manager.• Benitez: Give me time
• Blog: 2-0 Loss to Atleti? Meh!Benitez's side, the reigning European champions, were beaten 2-0 by Europa League winners Atletico Madrid, thanks to goals from Jose Antonio Reyes and Sergio Aguero, in the UEFA Super Cup.By contrast Inter looked a shadow of the side taken to the pinnacle of Europe by Jose Mourinho - despite no less than 10 of the starting XI having also started the Champions League final.In a tepid first half, this meeting between the creme de la creme of European football failed to live up to its billing as neither goalkeeper was forced to make a save.The playing surface at the Stade Louis II in Monaco is infamous for being hard and unpredictable - not helped by the subterranean car-park under the pitch - and that contributed to the poor quality.Even so there was no excuse for some of the poor shooting displayed by Aguero in particular as Atletico edged the opening 45 minutes - the Argentinian did also have a decent penalty claim turned down.Inter's best opportunity came from Wesley Sneijder, an effort from outside the box that bounced wide, before Samuel Eto'o drifted past a couple of challenges but pulled his shot past the post.The second half was infinitely better and though the first save still did not arrive until the 58th minute, it was worth waiting for.Reyes cut back onto his left foot and from the right side of the area bent the ball towards the far corner only to see Julio Cesar hurl himself full length to turn the ball behind. He looked distraught but his unhappiness did not last long as within two minutes he had put Atletico in front.This time he dribbled into the box, nearly lost the ball but regained control and sped past Maicon before beating Cesar from a narrow angle at his near post.The goal sparked wild celebrations and Aguero nearly made it two but Cristian Chivu cleared off the line. Reyes picked up an injury while scoring and limped off to be replaced by another ex-Arsenal player, Fran Merida.Diego Forlan brought two more saves out of Cesar, one from a direct free-kick and then from 30 yards out.Inter continued to struggle to create anything noteworthy and Aguero ended the contest with a simple finish after Simao had played a brilliant pass across the six-yard box.To rub salt in the wound for Inter, even when Goran Pandev won a generous penalty in the final minute the Atletico keeper David de Gea had the last laugh by saving from Diego Milito.
Friday, August 27, 2010