By Sports Reporter/Doha
Turkish academy side Altinordu defeated Italians Inter Milan in the Al Kass International Cup, but it wasn’t enough to prevent them finishing bottom of Group C.
Altinordu had given themselves a huge task to stay in the competition after losing 3-0 to Mohammed VI Academy of Morocco in their opener and they needed to win by three goals to progress to the quarter-finals. Given that Italian sides are notoriously solid defensively, Altinordu were never likely to reach the last eight but their hopes were helped by the fact Inter made the maximum possible number of changes – nine, as squads consist of 20 players – following their 3-1 opening match victory over Mohammed VI Academy. Altinordu, meanwhile, made just four changes and they produced a much improved display.
They went close after just 45 seconds, Ernesto Greco throwing himself at full stretch to keep out Hakan Ozturk’s well-struck shot.
It was the 20 th minute until another good opportunity presented itself, but Inter striker Dennis Curatolo failed to connect with a header following a corner when well placed to score. Ozturk was the main thrust of Altinordu’s attacks and he fired wide on 26 minutes before setting up the only goal of the match one minute later.
The striker curled a ball towards the edge of the box and Greco came out to try and claim it, only to be caught well out of position and Muhammet Turan sent a superb chip over the stranded keeper to give Altinordu the lead.
Most of Inter’s chances were falling to Curatolo and he had a couple of efforts on goal without worrying the Turkish keeper. Kifle Gambato and Nicolo Uberti saw efforts blocked as Inter pushed for a first-half equaliser but Altinordu went in at the break with a narrow lead, despite having had just 41% of the possession.
Seckin Firinci was sent through on goal on the hour-mark following a superb pass by Furkan Yontem but he failed to get his effort on target. The flag went up for offside to save his blushes, although he did appear to be onside.
The Italians went close to an equaliser midway through the second half as Federico Motti let fly with a fine half-volley but player of the match Atahan Arslan pulled off a superb save to keep the Turks ahead.
Despite Inter’s efforts, Altinordu held on for the win – a result that saw the Italians finish second in the group while the Turkish side finished bottom.
Altinordu, based in the Turkish west coast city of Izmir, are more noted for the youth set-up than their senior side.
That youth set-up has produced talents such as Roma’s speedy winger Cengiz Under and Leicester City defender Caglar Soyuncu, who is currently making a name for himself in the English Premier League.
This victory over Inter was more like the displays they produced at Al Kass last year, where they held German giants Bayern Munich to a draw, but that could in part be down to Inter making so many changes.
The Italians have reached the semi-finals in each of their two previous visits to Doha and will be hoping to go even better this time.
They will get just 24 hours’ rest though and now face a very tough test in the semi-finals where they take on debutants Mohammed VI Academy.
Altinordu, meanwhile, will face Barcelona to decide their exact position in the competition.
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