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Mourinho starts Inter stint with Super Cup triumph

SoccerNews in Serie A 25 Aug 2008


New coach Jose Mourinho won the Italian Super Cup on his competitive debut for Inter Milan on Sunday when the Serie A champions beat Cup-holders AS Roma on penalties after a thrilling match ended 2-2 at the San Siro.

Captain Javier Zanetti scored the decisive spot-kick as Inter won the shoot-out 6-5 after Francesco Totti and Juan missed for Roma.

Montenegro forward Mirko Vucinic took the game to extra time in the 90th minute when he headed Roma level from a corner just seven minutes after 18-year-old striker Mario Balotelli thought he had won it for Inter with a cool finish after the ball filtered through the Roma defence from a goalkick.

Roma's Daniele De Rossi equalized for the visitors just before the hour mark after Ghana midfielder Sulley Muntari, who joined Inter from English club Portsmouth last month, opened for the champions in the 18th minute.

Inter went into the season's curtain-raiser looking to avenge May's 2-1 defeat to Roma in the Italian Cup final, the last game of Mourinho's predecessor Roberto Mancini before he was sacked despite having won a third consecutive Serie A title, and a 1-0 loss in the Super Cup last year.

They started brightly. Striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, back in action after skipping Sweden's friendly against France last week because of a knee problem, missed a great chance in the sixth minute, firing wide from close range after skilfully controlling a Muntari pass with his chest and shaking off Brazilian marker Juan.

There was more danger in the Roma area in the following minutes, with Chilean midfielder David Pizarro having to dive in with a desperate challenge after Daniele De Rossi's attempt to head away a cross found Ibrahimovic and the Swede hitting another good opportunity wide after a smart ball from Luis Figo.

Roma struggled to muster a response to Muntari's goal and Brazilian full back Maicon created headaches for their defence with a series of fine crosses, one of which Figo nodded narrowly past the far post.

Ibrahimovic was guilty of selfishness after the break, blasting a shot in to Mexes' legs when Figo was free to his left, and captain Javier Zanetti forced a save out of Roma keeper Doni with a powerful shot from outside the area.

But then De Rossi pulled levelled with a venomous right-footed strike from 30 metres out at the end of one of Roma's first truly fluid moves.

The rest of the game was more evenly balanced, with Balotelli and Vucinic providing a thrilling end to regulation time.

Balotelli brought some fine saves out of Doni in extra time with two freekicks and a curling shot but the score remained unchanged.

Roma captain Totti, who came off the bench in the 86th to make his first competitive appearance since injuring his knee in April, missed a chance to win the game when he hit his penalty over the bar with the shoot-out score at 4-3 after Dejan Stankovic had crashed his penalty against the crossbar.

It was the third consecutive year that the sides met in the Super Cup, with Roma's win last year coming after Inter prevailed 4-3 in 2006.

There was a minute's applause before the start of the match to honour the memory of Roma chairman Franco Sensi, who died aged 82 last Sunday.


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