Saturday, March 25, 2017

Inter held by AEK Athens in closing friendly

SoccerNews in Serie A 16 Aug 2015

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Inter rounded off their dismal pre-season programme with a disappointing goalless draw against AEK Athens in Ancona.

The San Siro outfit have played a host of high-profile warm-up fixtures, but headed into Sunday’s game on the back of four consecutive defeats to Bayern Munich, Milan, Real Madrid and Galatasaray.

Roberto Mancini will have been keen to halt that morale-sapping run of results with victory against a team who, last season, were playing in the second tier of Greek football.

However, Inter were unable to find a way past their inferior opponents and will surely head into next weekend’s Serie A opener at home to Atalanta low on confidence.

For a club looking to end a run of poor results, Inter offered little in the way of attacking threat during a quiet first half.

Aside from a Mauro Icardi shot from 20 yards that AEK goalkeeper Alain Baroja unconvincingly pushed away, fans of the Italian club had very little to shout about.

Inter continued to struggle after the break – limited to speculative shots from range by Stevan Jovetic early on – and AEK had a golden opportunity to go in front after 74 minutes when Rafik Djebbour headed over from close range.

Geoffrey Kondogbia drew a strong save from substitute goalkeeper Giannis Anestis with a powerful drive eight minutes from time, before Rey Manaj’s strike from the resulting corner was also kept out. 

Jovetic teed up Manaj for another effort that was denied by Anestis in the 89th minute, and Dimitris Grontis came close to snatching a winner for AEK when he fizzed an effort wide in the dying seconds.

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