Crespo heads Inter Milan into second phase

Internazionale of Milan qualifies for the second phase of the Champions League after a 2-1 victory over Ajax Amsterdam.

updated: February 25, 2007 09:28 IST
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Amsterdam, Netherlands:

Internazionale of Milan qualified for the second phase of the Champions League on Tuesday after two quick-fire headed goals from Argentine striker Hernan Crespo lifted it to a 2-1 victory over Ajax Amsterdam. But Ajax scrambled through in second place in Group D despite the loss, ahead of Lyon, which was held 1-1 in Norway at Rosenborg. Both sides have eight points but Ajax won both clashes between the two. Crespo's first came as a bolt from the blue in the 50th minute as Luigi Di Biagio exploited unusual space in midfield to loft in a tempting center for the Argentine to head past Joey Didulica in the Ajax goal. And two minutes later, Crespo manufactured an even more powerful header to direct Christian Vieri's center into the bottom corner of the goal. Rafael van der Vaart's deflected consolation goal in the fourth minute of injury time had no effect on qualification and the biggest cheer of the night in the Arena came after the news of the Lyon-Rosenborg result. For 50 minutes the Dutch side dominated. It appeared to be robbed of a clear-cut goal in the eight minute when Ahmed "Mido" Hossam's header was parried by 'keeper Francesco Toldo. Van der Vaart, who tapped in the rebound, was adjudged offside. Ajax appeals for a penalty resounded after the ball struck Colombian defender Ivan Cordoba's arm in the Inter box just after the second goal but with the Amsterdammers pressing Inter almost had a third through Vieri. Di Biagio drove a stunning shot against the Ajax bar late on and was desperately unlucky to see his effort rebound down off the back of Didulica's head, but still bounce high enough to clear the bar. Ajax had all the territory but couldn't make enough clear-cut chances as Mido fought out an aerial battle with the Italian central defenders. (AP)