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Page last updated at 12:27 GMT, Thursday, 16 December 2010

Inter Milan secure Club World Cup final place

Diego Milito and Dejan Stankovic
Dejan Stankovic and Diego Milito celebrate Inter's opener

Under-fire Inter Milan manager Rafael Benitez saw his side clinch their place in the Club World Cup final after a 3-0 win over Seongnam Ilhwa in Abu Dhabi.

The European champions had won just two of their last nine games before flying to the Middle East, putting Benitez's future at the San Siro in doubt.

But goals from Dejan Stankovic, Javier Zanetti and the returning Diego Milito overcame the Asian champions.

Inter will meet Africa's TP Mazembe, from DR Congo, on Saturday.

Inter were boosted by the return of Argentine striker Milito following a five-week absence, as well as Brazil international goalkeeper Julio Cesar and Romanian defender Cristian Chivu for the semi-final at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.

The Italian champions have suffered 42 separate injuries already this season - the highest number in Serie A - and are seventh in the league with 23 points, 13 behind leaders and city rivals AC Milan.

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Inter president Massimo Moratti has backed Benitez but the Spaniard is aware of the speculation surrounding his future.

"After 25 years as a coach, eight trophies, five finals and two promotions, I know football can be like this," he said after the victory.

"I have confidence in myself, in my staff. The only thing I can do is keep working, don't read the press and hopefully I will enjoy the final."

Inter suffered an early blow when influential attacker Wesley Sneijder sustained what looked like a hamstring injury inside the first minute against Seongnam Ilhwa.

It's been a difficult time with a lot of players coming back form injuries

Rafael Benitez

"It was a little bit strange to lose Sneijder so early and it meant we had to change everything," said Benitez.

But Serbian midfielder Stankovic put Inter in front a minute later with a left-footed strike before Milito and Zanetti combined for the latter to double the lead in the 32nd minute.

And Milito added the third in the 73rd minute when he netted the rebound after Samuel Eto'o's shot was saved by Jung Sung-Ryong.

"It's been a difficult time with a lot of players coming back form injuries," said Benitez.

"I could see from the first minute, everyone was concentrating, focused. From the beginning to end, we were trying to win, trying to score and doing our job."



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see also
Africa's TP Mazembe make history
14 Dec 10 |  African
Inter slump to defeat at Bremen
07 Dec 10 |  Europe


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