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Champions Inter held by newboys Bari

sports Updated: Aug 24, 2009 15:59 IST

AFP
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Defending champions Inter Milan were held to a surprise 1-1 draw at home to promoted Bari at the San Siro on Sunday in their first match of the new Serie A season.

Cameroon forward Samuel Eto'o scored his first goal for Inter since joining from Barcelona in a swap deal that saw Zlatan Ibrahimovic head to Spain, but Vitaly Kutuzov's equaliser earned the plucky Serie A newboys a deserved share of the spoils.

Inter coach Jose Mourinho picked new signings Eto'o and Diego Milito up front together but they could not gel enough to fire the champions to victory.

Eto'o went close on seven minutes when he shot through a crowd of legs but Jean-Francois Gillet was down quickly to make the save.

Inter were creating little in the early stages and survived a scare at the other end when France captain Patrick Vieira's clumsy challenge brought down Riccardo Allegretti right on the edge of the box.

Allegretti curled the free-kick over the wall but Julio Cesar was quickly across his line to make the save.

Vieira then played a sublime ball over the top of the defence for Milito who couldn't keep his volley down.

Mourinho was clearly unhappy with what he saw and switched things around before the half hour was even up, bringing on Mario Balotelli for Sulley Muntari and changing formation to 4-3-3 from a 4-4-2 with a midfield diamond.

Another new signing Thiago Motta shot inches wide from just outside the area but Inter centre-backs Lucio and Marco Materazzi got in each other's way to allow Kutuzov a run clean through on goal, only for Belarus international to tread on the ball and lost momentum.

Mourinho changed things again at the break, bringing winger Ricardo Quaresma on for his defensive midfielder Vieira and reverting to a 4-4-2 with wide men.

The move was soon to pay dividends, although in controversial fashion as Milito slumped to the ground in the box from what seemed to be minimal contact.

The referee pointed to the penalty spot and Eto'o easily opened his account in Italian football.

He should have had a second on 67 minutes when Milito teed him up inside the box but with only Gillet to beat the former Barcelona man dragged his shot hopelessly wide.

They were made to pay for that on 74 minutes following a defensive blunder from Lucio who charged out of position to try to make an interception, only to leave a gaping hole for Kutuzov to shoot past Cesar.

It should have been worse for the champions as substitute Emmauel Rivas fired over the bar deep into stoppage time with only Cesar to beat.

On Saturday, Inter's city rivals AC Milan won 2-1 at Siena thanks to a brace from Brazilian Pato to boost their confidence ahead of next weekend's Milan derby.