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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Spartak Trails 2-1 in Cup Semis




MILAN, Italy -- An 89th minute goal by Brazilian midfielder Ze Elias gave Inter Milan a nail-biting UEFA Cup victory over Spartak Moscow 2-1 in a semifinal first-leg match.


Inter, which squeezed past cup holder Schalke 04 in the quarterfinals after extra time and twice overturned first-leg deficits in the earlier rounds, took the lead through Ivan Zamorano on Tuesday. He powered a header in off the underside of the crossbar on the stroke of halftime.


The Russians pulled level two minutes after the interval when highly rated midfielder Dmitry Alenichev danced through the home defense and beat Ginaluca Pagliuca with a coolly placed shot that bounced off the inside of the goalkeeper's inside post and trundled across the line.


For the rest of the second half, Inter pounded a stubborn and well-organized defense led by sweeper Dmitry Ananko.


Ronaldo fluffed two chances he would usually be expected to bury with his eyes closed, Argentine Javier Zanetti fired a shot just over Alexander Filimonov's crossbar and Uruguayan substitute Alvaro Recoba hit the post with a long-range effort.


In the end, it was left to another South American to give Inter a win that takes the team a step closer to its eighth UEFA Cup final and its second in succession.


The second leg is April 14 in Moscow.


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Lazio boosted its chance of reaching its first European final by winning 1-0 at Atletico Madrid in its UEFA Cup semifinal first leg Tuesday. The Rome side started slowly and had to withstand some early Atletico pressure but made the vital breakthrough after 33 minutes when an inch-perfect Alen Boksic pass found the unmarked Vladimir Jugovic.


Jugovic blasted the ball beyond the reach of Francisco Molina to score. Atletico again turned on the pressure for 15 minutes after the break but ran out of steam in the game's final stages.


Atletico will be without captain Santi Denia and striker Jose Luis Caminero for the second leg after they received their second yellow cards of the competition.


Lazio goalscorer Jugovic will also be missing when the sides meet in Rome in two weeks time after being booked.