MILAN - Injury-riddled Inter Milan had to
rely yet again on Samuel Eto'o in a 1-1 draw against Brescia in
Serie A on Saturday and only avoided a defeat in a disjointed
display after the Cameroon striker's second-half penalty.
Rafa Benitez's Inter, who have drawn their last three league
games at the San Siro, were easily beaten 3-1 at Tottenham
Hotspur in the Champions League in midweek.
The treble winners were once again underwhelming on Saturday
as memories of last May's triumphs under their former coach Jose
Mourinho get increasingly hazy.
Promoted Brescia went ahead after 14 minutes when giant
striker Andrea Caracciolo was allowed to collect a long ball and
power through Walter Samuel's weak challenge before prodding in.
Eto'o equalised from the spot 17 minutes from time for his
eight goal in 10 Serie A games this season, not to mention seven
in the Champions League, after being felled by Gaetano Berardi.
Inter had several chances in the first half, including a
deflected Eto'o shot that hit the bar, but they lacked
conviction and ideas against a packed defence.
Benitez had been forced to start with a rare 4-4-2 formation
given injuries to four central midfielders but Coutinho and
Goran Pandev struggled in unfamiliar wide roles.
Only the in-form Eto'o looked to create chances while strike
partner Diego Milito was muted on his full return from injury.
Inter's fitness troubles have prompted media criticism of
Benitez's training methods compared to Mourinho and, although
the ex-Liverpool coach has rejected the accusations, president
Massimo Moratti had said he was concerned by the situation.
Right-back Maicon, given a rough ride by Tottenham's Gareth
Bale for a second time in midweek, was the latest to head to the
treatment room after coming off early feeling his hamstring.
World player of the year candidate Wesley Sneijder was then
taken off at the break and a lack of close season signings meant
young Nigerian midfielder Joel Obi had to be introduced.
The formation was not working but Benitez stuck to his guns
despite puzzled looks around the San Siro and the clear penalty
was his only reward as Milito blasted over in stoppage time.
Nostalgic fans, who saw hero Mourinho return to the city
last week with new team Real Madrid against Milan, were shaking
heads again when Samuel hurt his knee and went off in pain.
He was out for almost a year after a knee injury in 2007.
In Saturday's early game, Bologna's Marco Di Vaio and Henry
Gimenez scored within a minute of each other late on to seal a
2-0 home win over fellow strugglers Lecce.
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