by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
INTER MILAN striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has dismissed Liverpool’s chances of reaching the Champions League quarter-finals.
And the outspoken Sweden international believes the Italian champions will underline their superiority over Rafael Benitez’s side in Milan on March 11.
Liverpool will take a 2-0 lead to the San Siro for next month’s return leg after late strikes from Dirk Kuyt and Steven Gerrard earned deserved victory in their first knockout round clash at Anfield on Tuesday night.
Inter were forced on to the defensive for the final hour of the game after the sending-off of former Everton centre-back Marco Materazzi.
Only once before have Liverpool surrendered a two-goal first-leg advantage in Europe, although that was during their only other meeting against Inter in the 1965 European Cup semi-final.
And confident Ibrahimovic reckons the Nerazzurri’s strength will see history repeat itself.
“I believe that Inter did well for 85 minutes,” he said. “Then Cordoba got hurt, and this was a serious blow because Ivan had done well until then. But not only him, we all fought, all 10 gave the maximum.
“Then in the last five minutes we conceded two goals and it was like a knife through the heart after all the work we had done up until that point.”
Of the second leg, Ibrahimovic added: “We must score at least two goals. There are two things we have to do. The first is to attack because our game is made to attack, not to defend.
“The second is to play eleven against eleven because on Tuesday evening that was not the case.
“Then you will see who is stronger between Inter and Liverpool. And I still believe that we are stronger.”
Tuesday’s first defeat was Inter’s first in any competition since September and only their fourth loss in their last 46 away games.
But Esteban Cambiasso shares the faith of Ibrahimovic that Roberto Mancini’s side will progress.
“We’ll have to be calm because it would be lethal to concede a goal at home, but with our qualities we can score two goals against Liverpool,” said the Argentine international.
“We’ll need a great night, without fear, because this is a 180-minute match.
“After the first half, we are down 2-0, we’ll see what it will be after 90 minutes.”
Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti is similarly confident, and said: “We’re not out yet. I have faith in the substance of the team: the players, the coach, the mentality, everything.
“The important thing is to convert one chance and that we prevent the other team from scoring, but that’s football.”
However, Moratti conceded little went right for his club on Tuesday night at a barnstorming Anfield.
“I have to be honest, I didn’t see anything that gave me confidence,” he said. “It went badly from all viewpoints. We went a man down, (Ivan) Cordoba was injured, putting us in a difficult situation, everything went wrong.
“But we know there is still another 90 minutes to play which could change everything from the other day.”