So, Inter vs Ahly SC tonight. Inter should win this comfortably tonight, but they’d be foolish to treat it as a training match.In spite of their somewhat insipid performance against Auckland City, they’re a decent team.
7.10: A really disappointing turnout from the locals this evening. Ten minutes to kick-off, and there are vast swathes of empty seats opposite us. The Inter supporters are magnificent. My Brazilian colleague points out that their song about Ahly is something about them bring “terrorists”. Pato, the so-called “Duck”, who is being labelled as the next great Brazilian hope, is in the starting eleven.
7.15: The teams are out on the pitch. Suggestion to FIFA: rather than his terrible song that plays at full volume while the TV cameras pan along the team line-ups, why not have them sing their club song? I’d pay good money to see Spurs players belting out Chas & Dave before their next UEFA Cup match.
7.20: Kick-off. The early exchanges are going Inter’s way. Wellington Monteiro shoots horribly wide from about forty yards.
7.25: The referee incurs the wrath of the Inter support to over-rule his linesman and give a throw in to Ahly. It’s going to be that sort of night.
7.30: Suddenly, excitement! A deep cross is turned across goal by Pato and Iarley heads the ball in. Unfortunately, they’re both about twenty yards offside. More whistling from the Inter fans and, I daresay, questions in Portuguese regarding his parentage. Seconds later, Iarley is put through again but shoots over. Offside again, though. It’s starting to look a little one-sided already.
7.35: Ceara crosses from deep, and Pato heads over. Pato looks as if he may be wearing a body-warmer under his shirt.
7.38: A long shot from Ceara skids just wide and hits the stanchion behind the goal. At the moment, this looks like a team of seasoned professionals playing against a technically efficient youth team. They look bigger, stronger and more confident.
7.43: GOAL! Inter 1-0 Ahly – Inter look to have squandered a chance when Pato mis-controls a beautiful pass from midfield, but the ball runs loose and an Ahly player sliding into a tackle gives it straight back to him. Scarcely able to believe his good luck, The Duck quacks the ball into the bottom corner of the net. No less than they deserve.
7.50: A chance from out of nothing for Ahly. The infuriating Flavio suddenly finds himself in space inside the Inter penalty area but, as he did a couple of times against Auckland, wraps his foot right round the ball. Ahly are getting into some decent positions, but their delivery is appalling.
7.55: Ahly nearly equalise. A terrific thirty-yard free-kick from El Nahas is heading for the top corner, but Clemer tips it over brilliantly. A couple of minutes later, Aboutrika shoots from twelve yards after Inter have failed to clear an Ahly attack, and hits the post. Inter have taken their foot off the pedal too much since they scored, and they’re going to get punished at this rate.
8.05: Half-time: Inter 1-0 Ahly SC. Harsh on Ahly, considering the way they got themselves back into the match after going one down. Right on half-time, they have another great chance, but Shawky attempts a bicycle kick rather than something sensible and the ball flies over.
8.20: Without me even having noticed, the stadium has filled up quite nicely. There has been a lot of grumbling amongst the Inter supporters at half-time. Ahly are out first: I daresay that Inter were getting a bit of a rollocking during the break.
8.25: The fourth officials have their own dug-out, which is wheeled out to the side of the pitch at the start of each half. They’re not in it when it’s wheeled out, though. It would provide a nice Davros out of Dr Who-type effect if they were.
8.31: GOAL! Inter 1-1 Ahly – An equaliser for Ahly, and it has been coming. Tarek Said crosses from the left and Flavio, completely unmarked, heads over Clemer. This evening’s crowd is announced as 33,690. Looks like more to me, but what would I know?
8.35: Inter have raised their game since the goal, but Ahly look sharper and more confident at the moment. Too close to call.
8.40: Break out the plum sauce, because the duck is lame. Lame duck – geddit? Never mind. It looks like a bout of cramp, but they’ve taken him off anyway.
8.45: Everything is starting to fall apart on the pitch. Passes going astray all over the place. Ahly haven’t capitalised on getting back into the match, and Inter are shooting wildly over every time they get within thirty yards of the Ahly goal.
8.48: GOAL! Inter 2-1 Ahly – Luiz Adriano has only been on for several minutes, but he heads into an unguarded net from a corner. Terrible, terrible marking from Ahly. He could have declared area surrounding him an independent republic. The singing and dancing has started in the stand in front of me again.
8.55: Ahly have made two changes, but their goalkeeper has gone down injured twice now. Iy doesn’t look as he’s going to be able to carry on. Curiously, they take him off the pitch on a stretcher before his replacement comes on. Cue the worst Mexican Wave I’ve ever seen.
9.00: The tempo has slowed again, and I can’t see where an Ahly goal is coming from at the moment. If anything, Inter look more likely to add a third.
9.07: Inter are playing out time now. Ahly don’t look as if they’ve got much in the tank left to give, either. Five miuntes added time, though, so plenty of time.
9.10: A late chance for Inter to seal it, when Fernandao, who has had a quiet evening, gets clear, but the shot is blocked. From the corner, the Inter players claim a penalty for holding, but the refere says no.
9.12: FULL TIME: Inter 2-1 Ahly SC. Ahly can, I think, consider themselves somewhat unfortunate. They came back after a very strong start from Inter, who failed to impose themselves on the game after they took the lead. Inter are going to have to raise their game for the final, but that can wait for a little while: Barca arrive in town tomorrow.