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Inter struggles in draw with Cagliari

SERIE A leader Inter Milan was held to a 1-1 draw by Cagliari on Saturday in its first match of 2009, snapping its eight-game winning streak.

Robert Acquafresca put Cagliari in front in the 65th minute at the San Siro but Zlatan Ibrahimovic equalized in the 77th off a pass from Hernan Crespo.

"Cagliari played very well on the counterattack," Inter coach Jose Mourinho said. "We have problems when we play against teams with a lot of intensity. We didn't play well in the first half. We played our best after Cagliari scored."

Inter has 43 points, Juventus is second with 36 and AC Milan is next with 33.

Juventus hosted Siena and Milan was at AS Roma late yesterday in what could be David Beckham's first game since joining Milan on loan.

In Saturday's other game, Genoa shut out Torino 3-0 and joined Fiorentina in fourth place ?? at least temporarily.

In the first Italian league match following a three-week holiday break, Genoa got headed goals from Giuseppe Biava, Basko Jankovic and Thiago Motta.

Genoa and Fiorentina, which was to host Lecce yesterday, have 32 points each.

Torino remained one point above the relegation zone with 15 points.

Cagliari has 22 points.

Luis Figo lined up behind Julio Ricardo Cruz and Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Inter's attack created numerous chances, but could not convert early on.

Ibrahimovic's shot went directly at Cagliari goalkeeper Federico Marchetti in the 13th, Cruz slipped through the defense in the 26th to meet a free kick with a header that went wide and Inter captain Javier Zanetti had two long shots pushed aside by Marchetti in the 42nd and 43rd.

Mourinho sent on another attacking player, Ricardo Quaresma, for defender Ivan Cordoba to start the second half and Quaresma sent a long shot wide in the 52nd. Ibrahimovic had another good opportunity in the 54th but missed wide with a poor shot.

Acquafresca was wide open to score his seventh goal of the season when defender Walter Samuel slipped inside the area.

Inter controls the rights to the 21-year-old Acquafresca.

"This is a special game for me. I hope I've shown that I'm capable of wearing (Inter's) jersey in the future," he said. "It's a dream and goal of mine, obviously."


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