Inter shake off Cassano distraction for 3-2 victory
By Andrew Dampf ,APROME -- Inter Milan came back from two goals down to beat Catania 3-2 Sunday, shaking off a horrendous first half and Antonio Cassano's latest outburst of bad behavior.
March 5, 2013, 12:35 am TWN
Also, Francesco Totti tied Swedish great Gunnar Nordahl for second place on Serie A's all-time scoring list with his 225th goal as Roma beat Genoa 3-1 for its third consecutive win.
The prematch buildup for Inter was centered on a training scuffle between Cassano and manager Andrea Stramaccioni, and Cassano was left off the squad for the match in Sicily.
“We started awfully, which was in part due to the crazy atmosphere and the euphoria at the stadium,” Stramaccioni said. “But after the break a different squad came out and left its soul out there. ... Fortunately we comment on the matches after they're finished.”
Having already lost another forward, Diego Milito, for the season with a knee injury, Cassano's absence weighed heavily.
Not surprisingly, Inter appeared distracted at the start and Gonzalo Bergessio put Catania ahead seven minutes in at the Massimino stadium after Inter defender Juan Jesus left him the ball deep inside the area.
Catania doubled its lead in the 19th following another defensive lapse with Giovanni Marchese left free to head in.
However, Inter organized itself in the second half, which began with goalkeeper Samir Handanovic thwarting two more Catania chances.
Ricky Alvarez scored for Inter in the 51st, heading in a cross from Rodrigo Palacio, and Palacio equalized in the 70th, heading in a cross from Alvara Perreira.
Palacio then scored the winner in the second minute of added time after getting set up by Esteban Cambiasso inside the area.
Cassano has had run-ins with authority figures throughout his career, from Fabio Capello at Roma and Real Madrid to former Sampdoria president Riccardo Garrone during his time with the Genoa-based club.
“The incident was over-amplified,” Stramaccioni said. “For someone as direct as I am, whatever I have to say to Antonio I'll do it face to face. ... It wasn't an exclusion, I just decided not to put him in the squad. It's normal to have an exchange of opinions with a player. We never had our hands on each other.”