Rafa Benitez insists Inter's only problems are down to injuries and Samuel Eto'o was provoked. “He lost control.”
The 2-1 defeat at Chievo was a disaster for the Nerazzurri, who are now nine points off leaders Milan.
It could be much worse, though, as Eto'o was caught on camera head-butting Bostjan Cesar in the chest.
In an incident very similar to Zinedine Zidane's 2006 World Cup Final attack on Marco Materazzi, the off-the-ball incident was not spotted by the officials.
“You can see he got punched and was provoked. He reacted this way and lost control,” commented Benitez.
“It's a shame, but there are four officials on the field and if they didn't consider it to be an incident worth acting on, then clearly that's their opinion.”
However, it's more likely the officials did not spot it. If the incident is not mentioned in the referee's report, then video evidence can be used, suggesting a lengthy ban for Eto'o.
“Clearly after a defeat nobody is happy, but the players worked hard and had a strong reaction in the second half, showing what they had to in terms of character,” said the under-fire Coach.
“Unfortunately we wasted a couple of chances to score, but in terms of effort and attitude, the team took the right approach. The reaction was positive right to the end on a terrible pitch. If we had scored earlier, the game would've changed completely.”
This week there were several meetings amid the Inter hierarchy and Benitez was asked if there would be more summits.
“As always, we talk after every game. Clearly a side like ours has to win a game of this nature, but the lads did work hard.
“I am a professional Coach and have already lived through situations like this. The only way to change the tide is to work and today I saw the players look for the victory.
“The first goal came from a mistake in the one-on-one. It was a technical error. We are going through a difficult situation with a side that has won a great deal, but we are also missing many crucial players and are forced to field lots of teenagers.”
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