Monday, November 20, 2017

Leonardo refuses to concede

SoccerNews in Serie A, UEFA Champions League 24 Apr 2011

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Inter Milan manager Leonardo has not conceded this season’s Serie A title to city rivals AC Milan after watching his side beat Lazio 2-1 on Saturday.

Leonardo saw his men go behind early after goalkeeper Julio Cesar was given a straight red card, with the resultant penalty tucked away by Mauro Zarate after 24 minutes.

But a man down, Inter launched a stunning comeback. Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder’s 40th-minute goal was the catalyst, with Cameroon frontman Samuel Eto’o clinching the win with his strike eight minutes into the second half.

“It is a special and extraordinary win,” Leonardo said.

“Anything can still happen. I still believe in the Scudetto (Serie A title). Am I too optimistic?”

His comments come despite AC Milan winning 1-0 in the late kick-off at Brescia, with Robinho’s goal eight minutes from time retaining his side’s eight-point lead on Inter with just four games to play.

But even though the title appears unlikely, Leonardo took the opportunity to praise the spirit of his players this season.

“These players sent out a clear signal. They went down to 10 and a goal behind after 20 minutes, but were able to react and fight back. It was a very strange season compared to usual, as it was broken up too many times by the change of management and various injuries,” he said.

“What remained intact was the amazing spirit of this team and it never lost its heart. The foundations of Inter are there and will not move, so this is not the moment to think about the future.”

“Don’t forget, anything can still happen. My rapport with Inter is very clear. I want to achieve my targets and am relaxed.”

Lazio boss Edy Reja was disappointed with the result, which robbed his side of a chance to move within two points of third-placed Napoli.

“It went badly for us. They scored with a free kick and took advantage of Giuseppe Biava’s slip, so they had two chances and took them. All we got was chances and the woodwork,” Reja said.

“If we consider this result and the fact Napoli lost, there have to be regrets for missed opportunities. It will be a very exciting end to the campaign, as it’s still wide open for the Champions League race.”

“I can be fairly satisfied with the performance, though obviously not the result.”

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