Two goals in the space of four first-half minutes put paid to the gallant African champions, with Goran Pandev and Samuel Eto’o’s clinical strikes providing the foundation for a victory that was later sealed by substitute Jonathan Biabiany.
Mazembe, for all their boundless energy, were ultimately outclassed, and yet they did succeed in making an assured start to this match, even providing the first noteworthy effort when Miala Nkulukuta’s long-range shot flashed over Julio Cesar’s crossbar with ten minutes on the clock. That their hopes were all but dashed seven minutes later was a tribute to Inter’s ruthlessness, with the Italians – as they had in the semi-final – breaking the deadlock with their first attack worthy of the description.
Goran Pandev was the player to find the net, stabbing left-footed into the bottom corner after Samuel Eto’o had split the Mazembe defence, cushioning a delightful volleyed pass into the Macedonian’s path. A goal down after just 14 minutes, the Congolese desperately needed to steady their nerves. Instead, they found themselves two down just three minutes later.
This time, Eto’o switched from provider to predator, swivelling on the edge of the box and smashing an unstoppable right-foot shot just inside the left-hand post after Javier Zanetti’s cut-back had been touched into his path. For Inter, it had been a dream start and, having been liberated from any pre-match nerves, they set about finishing off their dazed African opponents.
Diego Milito should have done just that after 24 minutes, but having sprung the Mazembe offside trap to race clean through, his finish lacked conviction and Kidiaba was able to divert his effort to safety. The Congolese keeper has been a revelation at this tournament and he again came to his side’s rescue as half-time approached, racing from his line to save with his legs after Milito had again sprinted in behind the defence.
At the other end, Mazembe were finding openings hard to come by, and on the rare occasions they did create a shooting opportunity, they found a last line of defence that was near-impossible to penetrate. Typifying Inter’s attitude towards the defence of their lead was Ivan Cordoba, who in first half stoppage time threw himself in the path of a ferocious goal-bound volley from Dioko Kaluyituka.
Not that Mazembe ever became discouraged. In the second half, they pressed forward at every opportunity and also plugged some of their defensive leaks, albeit enduring a brief scare when a trademark surging run from Maicon ended with the ball striking the outside of the post. The Africans’ best chance of halving the deficit came on 75 minutes, when Kaluyituka attempted to round Julio Cesar and was forced wide when he might have been better going for the first time shot.
The Mazembe No 15 did take a more direct route to goal five minutes later though, forcing an alert save from the Inter keeper with a smart volley from Mulota Kubangu’s outswinging cross. However, any lingering doubts about where the world title was heading were finally removed with five minutes remaining when Biabiany sealed Inter’s triumph, timing his run to perfection and coolly dragging the ball wide of Kidiaba before slotting into the net.
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