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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cruz Returns to Haunt Spartak

APSpartak's Martin Jiranek challenging for the ball with Milan's Ibrahimovic during the match in Moscow on Wednesday.
A first-minute goal by Julio Cruz proved to be decisive as Inter Milan beat Spartak Moscow 1-0 in its Champions League Group B match, played on a freezing night in the Russian capital on Tuesday.

Cruz struck in the first minute to lead Inter to a 2-1 victory over Spartak in the teams' first meeting in Milan two weeks ago, as well. He also added the second after nine minutes in Milan.

The Spartak players almost missed the start of the game after being stuck in traffic on their way to the Luzhniki stadium and had to take the metro to the arena.

It proved to be a bad omen as Cruz struck just 58 seconds into the match for his third goal over the two legs.

The Argentine striker calmly fired into an empty goal after being set up by Zlatan Ibrahimovic following a failed clearance by Spartak's Austrian international Martin Stranzl.

As temperature dropped well below zero, the Italians were content to sit back and rely on counter-attacks.

Cruz had a good chance to double the lead late in the first half but shot just wide from the edge of the box after being left unmarked on the left.

Spartak rarely threatened Inter before the break, Brazilian midfielder Mozart testing Julio Cesar with a long-range effort for Spartak's only real scoring chance.

The second half began in a similar fashion as Ibrahimovic wasted a great chance to make it 2-0 in the first minute after the restart only to head wide from point-blank range.

Spartak defender Roman Shishkin hit the crossbar with a powerful drive from 30 meters late in the match as the Russians pressed for an equalizer, but the visitors withstood the threat.

Dejan Stankovic could have added a second for Inter in injury time but failed to lob the ball over rushing Woiciech Kowalewski after going one-on-one with the Spartak keeper.

Inter coach Roberto Mancini was delighted with taking 3 points from his side's trip to the icy Russian capital.

"We had to adjust to the cold weather, to the synthetic pitch," the Italian said. "Obviously, we were helped by a great start but no matter what, I'm just glad we got the win."

The Russians were left to rue mistakes and missed chances.

"You just can't afford to give a goal away to a team like Inter in the first minute," a visibly disappointed Spartak captain Yegor Titov told Russian television.

"That's what happened in our first match against Inter. You can't make the same mistakes over and over again and expect to win. It seems we also can't find the net with our own chances."

The win gave Inter 6 points from four games and lifted the Italians to second place, 4 points behind Group B leader Bayern Munich. Spartak, with 1 point, stayed at the bottom of the group and have now gone 21 matches in the Champions League without a win.

In other Champions League games it was: Werder Bremen 3, Levski Sofia 0; Bayern Munich 0, Sporting Lisbon 0; PSV 2, Galatasaray 0; Valencia 2, Shakhtar Donetsk 2; and Roma 1, Olympiacos 1.