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Thursday, March 25, 2004 

Inter beat Benfica in seven-goal thriller to reach the UEFA Cup quarter-finals (Football United derby)

FC Internazionale edged out SL Benfica in a thrilling UEFA Cup fourth round second-leg match at the San Siro to earn a quarter-final meeting with Olympique de Marseille.

The visitors took the lead through Nuno Gomes before Obafemi Martins hit a first-half equaliser. The game really came to life on the hour with the introduction of Alvaro Recoba, as he scored one before providing Christian Vieri with the third. Nuno Gomes scored a second before Martins struck again, only for Tiago to ensure a tense finish by making it 4-3.

On 36 minutes Benfica took the lead, catapulting what had been a cagey game into life. Tiago found Nuno Gomes with a short pass and the Portuguese international set himself before shooting low into the goal off Francesco Toldo's right-hand post.

Gomes then hit the same post with a side-footed effort after good work from Armando, but this time it went behind for a goal-kick. Then, just six minutes after the opener, Martins had the ball in the net, but the strike was disallowed for a foul by Vieri in the build up. The burly Italian international was adjudged to have fouled Ricardo Rocha as they competed for an aerial ball.

Martins did get his goal in the end however, as Inter equalised in first-half stoppage time. All the credit went to Giorgios Karagounis though, as the Greek midfield player's winding run on the by-line took him past several Inter defenders and a sprawling Moriera to give Martins a simple tap-in.

The second half started quietly, before a whirlwind of four goals in ten minutes. The game changed with the introduction of the mercurial Recoba for Okan Buruk on 59 minutes. The Uruguayan star made a profound impact as he put the hosts in front a minute later. Javier Zanetti's crossfield pass was cleverly left by Vieri, buying Recoba the time to shoot across Moriera and in from the edge of the box.

Inter were rampant and on 64 minutes they grabbed a splendid second. Martins launched a counterattack down the right by finding Recoba in space. He looked up and fired a crossfield pass to Vieri, who chested down before blasting a ferocious volley into the net.

Benfica refused to give in though and turned what looked like an easy ride for Inter into a thrilling finale. First Nuno Gomes slid in to grab a second from close range, before Martins struck again from a Recoba pass to restore Inter's two-goal cushion.

However, José Antonio Camacho's side were still not deterred and Tiago made it 4-3 on 77 minutes after a smart one-two with substitute Tomislav Šokota. A fourth would have put Benfica into the quarter-finals on away goals but Inter held out to go through, and now visit Marseille on 8 April before a return here six days later.

Match facts:
Scorers: Nuno Gomes 36', 67', Martins 46', 71', Recoba 60', Vieri 64', Tiago 77'
Booked: Tiago 23', Okan 42', Pereira 57', Cordoba 69', Armando 79', Recoba 80'
Referee: Alain Sars

INTER: 1 Toldo , 2 Cordoba , 4 J. Zanetti , 8 Lamouchi , 15 Adani , 18 Kily Gonzalez , 19 Karagounis (31 Brechet 72'), 22 Okan (20 Recoba 59'), 24 Gamarra , 30 Martins (25 Almeyda 86'), 32 Vieri
Subs not used: 71 Cordaz , 7 van der Meyde , 9 Cruz , 14 Farinos
Coach Alberto Zaccheroni

BENFICA: 1 Moreira, 2 Armando, 4 Luisao, 6 Petit (11 Geovanni 86'), 10 Zahovic (25 Sokota, 20 Simao, 21 Nuno Gomez, 23 Miguel, 30 Tiago, 33 Ricardo Rocha, 47 João Pereira (Manuel Fernades 74')
Subs not used: 24 Bossio, 5 Cristiano, 16 Aguiar, 37 Helder
Coach: José Antonio Camacho

source: uefa.com & inter.it


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