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Serie A Week 27 - 26/2/06 (14.00 UK)
Inter - Udinese

Stadio Giuseppe Meazza

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Inter suffered the indignity of seeing rivals Milan leapfrog them after last weekend's stalemate with Livorno, and will be desperate to return to winning ways against an Udinese side in turmoil at the San Siro.

Roberto Mancini has had a season of ups and downs and has a crucial period ahead. The Nerazzurri looked to be Juventus' only genuine opposition for long periods, but after a recent slump find themselves in third and under pressure to perform. Mancini will be especially worried by how toothless the Beneamata have looked in recent weeks. Inter have scored a miserable three goals in four games and seem to lack a confidence in front of goal.

Udinese are a club in crisis. After the dismissal of Serse Cosmi, the new pairing of Loris Dominissini and Nestor Sensini suffered a Serie A baptism of fire, ending in a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Siena. Despite a resounding win over Lens in the UEFA Cup, the new pair have every right to be reticent. The Friulani have had a disastrous season. Expected to feature in the top six, the Bianconeri are now nine games without a win and in some danger of joining the relegation battle.

Mancini will be without Adriano for two games after videotape evidence convicted him of violent conduct in last weekend's game against Livorno. Francesco Toldo committed his future to Inter in the week with a new contract and may be rewarded with a starting place as Julio Cesar is a doubt. Alvaro Recoba is still injured as is Juan Sebastian Veron and January signing Cesar.

Vincent Candela will not make the trip to Milan after he was controversially sent off against Siena last weekend. Marco Motta's season is over despite successful surgery on his right knee. Cesare Natali is still out of action with an injury to his right calf.

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Inter: Toldo; J. Zanetti, Cordoba, Samuel, Wome; Figo, Pizarro, Cambiasso, Stankovic; Martins, Cruz

Udinese: De Sanctis; Bertotto, Felipe, Zapata; Zenoni, Obodo, Baronio, Tissone, Muntari; Iaquinta, Di Natale

Ref: To follow...

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INTER V UDINESE: 19-PLAYER SQUAD
Saturday, 25 February 2006 19:37:41
APPIANO GENTILE - Updated squad list for Inter v Udinese after inclusion of Alvaro Recoba:

Goalkeepers: 1 Francesco Toldo, 22 Paolo Orlandoni

Defenders: 2 Ivan Ramiro Cordoba, 3 Nicolas Burdisso, 4 Javier Zanetti, 11 Sinisa Mihajlovic, 23 Marco Materazzi, 25 Walter Samuel, 33 Pierre Wome

Midfielders: 5 Dejan Stankovic, 7 Luis Figo , 8 David Pizarro, 18 Cristian Kily González, 19 Esteban Cambiasso, 21 Santiago Solari, 31 Cesar

Strikers: 9 Julio Ricardo Cruz, 20 Alvaro Recoba, 30 Obafemi Martins

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INTER V UDINESE: RECOBA JOINS SQUAD
Saturday, 25 February 2006 19:12:56
MILAN - Alvaro Recoba has been drafted into Roberto Mancini's squad after the CAF's decision to restore Adriano's two-match ban. "After hearing that Adriano would be unavailable through suspension I telephoned Recoba, who still isn't fully fit but said he was willing to join the squad, and now he's here in retreat with us," Mancini explained from the team's hotel. "I want to thank him for this nice gesture, but we don't want to run any risks with his recovery so as I pointed out this afternoon, we will see how he is in the coming hours."

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Serie A Week 27 - 26/2/06 (14.00 UK)
Inter 3 - 1 Udinese
Cruz pen 18, 48 (I), Martins 60 (I), Iaquinta pen 82 (U)
Stadio Giuseppe Meazza

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A brace from Julio Cruz saw off struggling Udinese, but there was controversy in the closing stages with Walter Samuel and Zapata sent off.

It has been quite a week for the Nerazzurri, who were without a win in four in all competitions going into this game. Midweek they came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at Ajax in the Champions League, but above all saw Adriano's two-match ban for striking an opponent at first revoked and then reinstated on the FIGC's appeal. With Alvaro Recoba not 100 per cent fit, this left just Julio Cruz and Obafemi Martins upfront, while Francesco Toldo stepped in for the injured Julio Cesar. Juan Sebastian Veron remains sidelined, so David Pizarro was given a rare start against his former club.

Udinese's confidence was boosted by their passage into the final 16 of the UEFA Cup, but Coaches Loris Dominissini and Nestor Sensini were still looking for their first Serie A win in charge. The injury list was packed as ever and the suspended Vincent Candela added to their woes, so 19-year-old Brazilian Defendi was given his Serie A debut.

Martins was halted by an incorrect offside decision early on as he was running alone on goal.

Udinese wasted a golden opportunity to break through at San Siro, as Cristian Zenoni threaded through for Vincenzo Iaquinta, who somehow scuffed it well wide from seven yards.

Morgan De Sanctis flew to push Cruz's header round the upright, but the referee pointed to the spot after 17 minutes when the goalkeeper tripped Martins as he tried to push the ball off his foot. Cruz converted the penalty to give Inter the lead.

Following the error on Martins earlier on, Iaquinta was also stopped by a hasty offside flag as he ran on goal. Martins drilled wide from the edge of the box as the tempo remained relatively sedate.

Dejan Stankovic somehow escaped a booking for a very high tackle on Jose Luis Vidigal in midfield, while Chris Obodo was yellow-carded for a similar challenge on Esteban Cambiasso.

Cruz scored his second of the game immediately after the restart, taking his seasonal tally in Serie A to 10 goals. The move had been started by Martins, whose effort came off the woodwork, but the move continued and Pizarro cross in for the Cruz looping header.

Martins got his glory soon after, De Sanctis only parried a powerful Pizarro free kick and the Nigerian pounced on the loose ball from close range.

Walter Samuel saw red for hacking down Iaquinta from behind, as new rules post-Totti aim to stamp out these challenges. Many Inter fans, including patron Massimo Moratti, stood up to applaud the decision sarcastically.

Udinese tried to get back into the game, but Antonio Di Natale's weak effort was smothered at the near post after he had sprung the offside trap.

The visitors had a goal disallowed from Chris Obodo's touched-on free kick, as the referee saw Pizarro pushed over inside the defensive wall to make room for the shot.

Udinese pulled one back soon after, as Iaquinta buried his penalty, which was awarded for Pierre Wome's clumsy push on Paulo Barreto.

Moments later, they too were left in 10 men for Zapata's second bookable offence.

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Inter: Toldo; J Zanetti, Cordoba, Samuel, Wome; Figo (Kily Gonzalez 46), Cambiasso, Pizarro, Stankovic (Solari 79); Cruz, Martins (Materazzi 70)

Udinese: De Sanctis; Defendi (Barreto 54), Felipe, Zapata; Bertotto, Obodo, Muntari, Vidigal (Tissone 48), Zenoni; Iaquinta, Di Natale

Ref: Dondarini

Sent off: Samuel 66 (I), Zapata 84 (U)

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