MILAN: Christian Vieri came off the bench to head the winning goal a minute from time as Inter Milan defeated Dynamo Kiev 2-1 on Tuesday for their second successive Champions League victory.
The 30-year-old international, who had not played since injuring both ankles in Italy's 1-1 draw with Serbia and Montenegro on September 10, flicked home Kily Gonzalez's free-kick to ensure maximum points and take the Italians to the top of Group B.
Daniele Adani gave Inter the lead before Sergiy Federov equalised for the Ukrainians.
It was the first goal Inter have conceded all season, having kept four clean sheets in Serie A and one in their opening Champions League win at Arsenal last week.
Vieri was not originally named in the squad, but persuaded coach Hector Cuper to name him as a substitute and came on to rescue Inter in the 57th minute.
“I felt good in training all week and I desperately wanted to play,” he said.
“I sat down with the coach and he agreed to put me on the bench. I only played for a short time, but long enough to score.
“It was an important victory and if we keep on this road we have a good chance of making it through to the next round.”
Cuper was thankful for the three points which put Inter on six points, three clear of Kiev and five clear of Lokomotiv Moscow and Arsenal.
“We have a good advantage in the group, but we can't afford to go to sleep,” said the Argentinian, who took Valencia to two Champions League finals, both of which they lost.
“We need at least another three points, but the two victories give us some breathing space.
“We still have some tough games to go but we are in a position of strength. Now the pressure is on the other teams in the group.”
Nigerian teenager Obafemi Martins started in place of Vieri alongside Julio Cruz, a summer signing from Bologna.
Javier Zanetti almost gave Inter a dream start in the fourth minute, but after barging his way into the box with a robust run he shot into the side netting from 12 yards.
Kiev went even closer eight minutes later. Fabio Cannavaro misjudged Diogo Rincon's flicked header and allowed Maksim Shatskikh to fly past him, but the Uzbek striker shot wide from an acute angle.
The visitors' near miss stung Inter into life and they took the lead through an unlikely source in the 23rd minute.
Cannavaro met Gonzalez's free-kick with a firm header which Oleksandr Shovkovsyi could only palm away and Adani was on hand to poke home the rebound from close range.
But Inter's joy was short-lived as goalkeeper Francesco Toldo, making his 100th appearance for the Milan club, gifted the Ukrainians an equaliser 11 minutes before half-time.
Tiberiu Ghioane's driven left-wing cross was spilled by the Inter goalkeeper and defender Federov followed up to level the scores.
Near misses by Gonzalez and Cruz only fuelled the home crowd's frustration and Cuper was forced to bring Vieri on just before the hour mark.
Inter laid Kiev's goal under siege but the visitors held firm until the 89th minute when the home side were awarded a free-kick just outside the box.
Gonzalez floated the ball over and Vieri shook off his marker to plant the ball wide of Shvkovskyi's outstretched hand to the delight of the San Siro crowd. – AFP