I know what I can give - Dzeko confident after matching Ronaldo's Inter start

By Sports Desk October 02, 2021

Edin Dzeko has scored six goals in his first seven Inter league appearances, matching Ronaldo's haul from the 1997-98 season, and the striker is brimming with confidence after his fine start.

The 35-year-old came off the bench in the second half of the Nerazzurri's 2-1 Serie A away victory over Sassuolo on Saturday.

Inter were trailing, but Dzeko equalised less than a minute after his introduction and then earned the penalty that Lautaro Martinez converted to win the game.

Dzeko joined Inter in August to replace star striker Romelu Lukaku, who left to join Chelsea, but has more than made up for the Belgian's absence so far.

"Six goals after seven games, I know Ronaldo was the last to do it," Dzeko said after the game. "Inter signed me for this, I know what I can still give and they know it too."

Asked if Inter had already forgotten Lukaku, he added: "We look ahead, we are doing well, I don't think about the past. Let's continue like this."

The veteran forward praised the spirit of his new team to battle back.

Inter have now avoided defeat after going into the break behind in three consecutive Serie A games for the first time in their history.

But Dzeko admitted that the Nerazzurri made things hard for themselves.

"Surely we showed [character] again," Dzeko said. "But we always take the most difficult road by conceding goals.

"You can't always play well, in the end the result is what counts. We were also a little tired."

Inter boss Simone Inzaghi echoed his striker's comments, admitting that fatigue played its part in his side's slow start and praising the impact of Dzeko and his fellow substitutes in turning the game around.

"Sassuolo did better than us in the first half," Inzaghi said. "In the second half, even before the changes, I saw a different team.

"Playing every three days, I need to give the team a boost, because I saw so many players tired. After the seventh game in 20 days with little training, I knew [the substitutes] would help me and they were decisive.

"I knew Dzeko as an opponent, I was struck by his availability and how he trains, he never backs down. 

"I'm happy with how the team can suffer. We always stay in the game because I found a group with a great spirit. The last two games were technically not as good as the others but now we will try to recover."

Related items

  • Xhaka in shirt controversy as Switzerland advance Xhaka in shirt controversy as Switzerland advance

    Granit Xhaka found himself at the centre of another controversy involving Serbia after donning a shirt with 'Jashari' on the back following Switzerland’s 3-2 win in Doha on Friday.

    Xhaka produced a man of the match display as the Swiss hit back from 2-1 down to secure second place in Group G and advance to a last-16 clash with Portugal on Tuesday.

    But his actions after the final whistle could attract the attention of FIFA.

    In the post-match celebrations, Xhaka put on a shirt carrying the name 'Jashari'. Asked afterwards what it meant, the Arsenal midfielder claimed it was for Switzerland squad member Ardon Jashari.

    However, the name carries significance in other ways with Adem Jashari a late founder of the Kosovo Liberation Army, a Kosovo Albanian separatist group that fought for independence from the former Yugoslavia.

    Xhaka is of ethnic Albanian heritage linked to Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008 but has not been recognised by Serbia. 

    Asked about the shirt afterwards, Xhaka said: "There’s no political background to it whatsoever.

    "Ardon is part of our squad and we spend a lot of time together. I told him if we won I would wear his shirt."

    Xhaka was a key figure throughout a feisty encounter. He also prompted a second-half melee that saw the Serbia bench encroach on to the pitch after making a crude gesture, thought to be in the direction of substitute goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic, whose personal life has been the subject of speculation this week.

    Switzerland boss Murat Yakin said he will "wait and see" if action is taken against Xhaka.

    "We will enjoy this moment, it cost us a lot of emotions and energy. It was a fair match," he said.

    "Before the game a lot of people were talking about the situation but we were able to face that challenge.

    "We are happy we are moving on. Everything else is speculation and we will wait and see."

    On the incident involving Rajkovic, Yakin added: "What I saw was a Granit Xhaka who was focused fully on football and performed very well. I saw the players from Serbia crossing the line, and others trying to calm them down. It was a normal exchange."

    It is not the first time Xhaka has been embroiled in controversy against Serbia. At the 2018 World Cup in Russia, he and Xherdan Shaqiri were fined after crossing their hands to mimic the eagle displayed on the Albanian flag in Switzerland’s 2-1 win.

    Shaqiri also played his part in Switzerland's victory here, scoring the opening goal at Stadium 974, but appeared annoyed to be taken off after 69 minutes.

    "No-one likes to be subbed," Yakin said. "Every player wants to play the whole game, but it’s part of my responsibility to protect players. He scored his goal and had a great assist.

    "The substitutes brought great energy and I thought they did well."

    The flashpoints overshadowed a wonderful game with Switzerland’s greater composure at key moments proving decisive.

    Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic praised his players but lamented the fact so many were struggling for fitness throughout their time in Qatar. He also insisted he had no intention of resigning.

    He said: "We are not happy with the result but, given the problems we faced from our arrival here and the injuries we had to contend with, it was too much for us to cope with.

    "The guys put up a fight but at this level that is not enough.

    "As for my future, in March we start the qualifiers for the European Championship and we have a great desire to qualify."

    Stojkovic claimed not to hear any of the chants that prompted an announcement over the public address system asking fans to refrain from discriminatory songs or gestures, thought to originate from sections housing Serbian supporters.

  • Brazil waiting on Neymar news as Tite dismisses idea of 'easy' draw Brazil waiting on Neymar news as Tite dismisses idea of 'easy' draw

    Tite warned Brazil must be "very careful" in the knockout stage of the World Cup, when they will hope to have Neymar back from injury.

    The Selecao lost 1-0 to Cameroon on Friday but still topped Group G, meaning they will face South Korea in the second round, rather than Portugal.

    Spain's defeat the previous day appeared to open up the draw further for Brazil, who would now play the winner of Japan's clash with Croatia in the quarter-finals.

    Regardless of their opponents, Brazil will feel more comfortable once Neymar is back in action, but he has not yet trained with a ball following his matchday one injury.

    Team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar added: "With 72 hours before the next match, we have time on our side. We still have possibilities."

    With or without his star man, coach Tite certainly will not become complacent, explaining: "Brazil lost to Cameroon. Portugal lost to South Korea. France lost to Tunisia. Argentina lost to Saudi Arabia. I think the results speak for themselves.

    "I think these are very strong, very tough matches. I don't think we can think any prior situation makes it easy. We need to be very careful.

    "We were very careful with the match against Cameroon. We were. We had all of those cares, we took them. They had their merits, played vertically very well. They have merit for the victory like Tunisia and the others.

    "We can't say it's easier and we have an advantage. We can't say that."

    Tite had made nine changes to his Brazil team, selecting an entirely different XI to that which started their finals opener.

    But he said: "Who lost? All of us. Our preparation is joint preparation, our wins are joint wins, our losses are also joint losses."

    The coach called on Brazil to "feel the loss", saying: "The World Cup doesn't give you a second chance, but this time it did.

    "We have to concentrate for 24 hours, suffer for 24 hours, and tomorrow we start getting ready."

    Besides Neymar's progress, there was mixed news on the injury front, with Alex Sandro still recovering alongside the forward but Danilo set to train normally on Saturday.

    That is a timely boost as Alex Telles and Gabriel Jesus are set for scans on knee injuries sustained against Cameroon.

  • Stones rates Kane in Haaland class as England back leader at World Cup crunch point Stones rates Kane in Haaland class as England back leader at World Cup crunch point

    John Stones rates Harry Kane as a striker in the class of Erling Haaland as he backed the England captain to break his Qatar World Cup scoring duck.

    England have reached the last-16 stage without needing a goal from their skipper, taking seven points from their group games and scoring nine times in the process, with both totals unsurpassed at this tournament.

    For Kane not to have netted any of those goals is a surprise, but he has three assists to his name, more than any other player across the group stage, and is contributing in important ways without putting the ball in the net.

    Four years ago in Russia, Kane's six goals made him the Golden Boot winner, and he may yet hit a hot streak of form in the coming fortnight.

    Whether he does or not, Stones is in no doubt as to the quality of England's number nine.

    Asked whether Kane is a player of the same calibre as Haaland, who is a club-mate of Stones at Manchester City, the England defender suggested they were of comparable quality.

    "Definitely yeah, it's difficult to obviously say. Erling's so new to our league and Harry has been playing in it all his life pretty much," Stones said.

    "Players like those two, their quality always shines through. Maybe they do say 'does he need a rest or not?', [but] we never think like that.

    "I think players that usually are scoring like Harry and want to score, you all saw his assist the other day was incredible, but those sort of players are a massive team player as well.

    "The things that don't get spoken about, the positioning, the headers from corners that us as defenders appreciate massively, and what he brings to the team as a leader and as a person, as a presence, can outweigh sometimes what happens or the outcome of things."

    That reckoning of Kane's diverse qualities is why England's players are not getting at the captain to find his scoring touch, ahead of Sunday's last-16 tussle with Senegal. All in good time, appears to be the message.

     

    Haaland and Kane have both been prolific already in the Premier League this season, netting 18 and 12 goals so far for City and Tottenham respectively to sit first and second in the scoring charts.

    While Haaland is missing out on the World Cup action because Norway failed to qualify, Kane has the chance to guide England to glory, a year after they finished runners-up at the European Championship.

    Again looking at Haaland and Kane, Stones said: "They are both incredible players and incredible within their own rights as well.

    "Harry's always been incredible with me, incredible to play with, and I'm sure he will get on the scoresheet soon."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.