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September 18, 2009

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Ibrahimovic returns to San Siro but fails to make impact

ZLATAN Ibrahimovic ignored the predictable boos on his first return to Inter Milan on Wednesday without answering the sceptics who still doubt his ability to finally make a mark in Europe.

Wednesday's 0-0 draw in the Champions League Group F opener prompted more questions than answers for both sides, even if Barcelona shaded the contest in terms of chances and technical ability.

Questions also remain over Swede Ibrahimovic, who hopes his pre-season swap deal with Samuel Eto'o can turn him into one of the most feared strikers in the continent after invariably flattering to deceive for Inter in the Champions League.

His talents in domestic soccer are undoubted, given he inspired Inter to three Italian titles, and he was fully prepared for the jeers from parts of the San Siro.

"Some whistled, it's normal when you lose a player you did not want to lose," he told reporters. "With a bit of luck I could even have scored."

In truth, Ibrahimovic snatched at a good early chance and generally failed to impose himself despite some tidy link-up play.

"I'm very happy, in my opinion we have players better than Inter," he said.


Eto'o, who scored the opener when Barcelona beat Manchester United 2-0 to lift the trophy last May, put in a similarly indifferent performance as Ibrahimovic against his former side.

"It was difficult for him. But he worked hard for the team and that's why I like Samuel," Inter coach Jose Mourinho told a news conference after refusing to comment on Ibrahimovic's display.

"We didn't create enough chances," Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said. "It is always hard to play Italian teams, nor is it easy to create chances against them. We didn't do enough in the first half, but we improved in the second."

Inter came close twice in the second half with Wesley Sneijder and substitute Dejan Stankovic narrowly missing the target.

"If we had scored, we would have won, but we wouldn't have deserved it as Barcelona was better," Mourinho said.

"A match against Barcelona is a great training session, against the European champions. With a bit more luck we would have won, with a bit less we would have lost."


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