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August 25, 2009

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Inter held but Juve triumphs

SAMUEL Eto'o coolly converted a penalty on his league debut but champion Inter Milan was held to a 1-1 home draw by Bari in their Italian Serie A opener on Sunday.

Juventus, likely to be Inter's main challenger again this term, fared better with Vincenzo Iaquinta powerfully heading home debutante Diego's free kick in a 1-0 victory over Chievo Verona in Turin.

Brazilian playmaker Diego, a new arrival from Werder Bremen, was lively throughout with Fabio Cannavaro making a composed return to the Juve lineup and avoiding any boos from those still angry about his departure to Real Madrid in 2006.

Juve coach Ciro Ferrara, who replaced Claudio Ranieri towards the end of last season and secured second spot, endured some nervous moments late on but ended up much happier than Inter's Jose Mourinho.

Cameroon forward Eto'o, signed from Barcelona in a swap deal with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, slotted in for Inter after Diego Milito was fouled by Leonardo Bonucci in the 56th.

Promoted side

The hosts had much the better of the play but their defense, including new signing Lucio, fell apart to allow Vitali Kutuzov to prod home in the 74th for the promoted side.

The forward from Belarus almost won it for the visitors but Julio Cesar pulled off a fine save before Bari's Emanuel Rivas also blasted over.

This weekend Inter clashes with AC Milan, which won 2-1 at Siena in its first game of the season on Saturday.

Inter midfielder Thiago Motta, who signed from Genoa alongside Milito in the close season, was not overly worried. "We know it was the first game against a team that wanted to play football and they gave us problems. We had chances. We made mistakes," the Brazilian said.

"Next week is very important for us and we'll get to work."

Genoa, fifth ahead of AS Roma last term, beat its rival 3-2 in a thrilling game and promoted Parma drew 2-2 at Udinese.

Fiorentina, which finished fourth in May, warmed up for tomorrow's Champions League playoff second leg against Sporting Lisbon with a 1-1 draw at Bologna on Saturday.

In Spain, two goals from Lionel Messi and a poacher's strike from Bojan Krkic gave Barcelona a 3-0 win over Athletic Bilbao in their Spanish Super Cup second leg on Sunday for a 5-1 aggregate victory.

The Spanish and European champion was leading 2-1 from the first leg in Bilbao last Sunday and Messi's superbly-taken opening goal early in the second half snuffed out any hopes of an unlikely Athletic comeback at a packed Nou Camp.

The Argentina forward picked up a pass from new signing Ibrahimovic in the 50th, rounded an Athletic defender and from close to the byline clipped the ball over onrushing goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz.


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