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Friday, Dec. 17, 2010

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Comprehensive victory: Inter Milan's Javier Zanetti scores against Seongnam Ilhwa in their Club World Cup semifinal on Wednesday night in Abu Dhabi. Inter won 3-0. AP PHOTO

Inter rumbles past Seongnam, into Club World Cup final

ABU DHABI (AP) Inter Milan swept aside Asian champion Seongnam Ilhwa 3-0 Wednesday to advance to the Club World Cup final and take some pressure off beleaguered coach Rafa Benitez.

Benitez, who believed to need to win this tournament to retain his job, praised the "spirit" of a team that has weathered a number of injuries and a loss of form to drop to seventh in the Serie A standings, 13 points behind leader AC Milan.

"It's been a difficult time with a lot of players coming back form injuries," Benitez said. "I could see from first minute, everyone was concentrating, focused. From the beginning to end, we were trying to win, trying to score and doing our job."

Inter led in the third minute, Serbian striker Dejan Stankovic jumping over a defender in the area to slot home. The Italian team doubled its lead in the 32nd when a back-heel pass from Diego Milito found defender Javier Zanetti, who scored from point-blank range.

Inter made the game safe through Milito's 73rd-minute goal after goalkeeper Jung Sung Ryong had parried a shot from Samuel Eto'o.

The K-League champions had their chances but never really threatened. They were pensive for most of the first half, and their defense was no match for the passing and movement of Milito and Eto'o.

"I want to congratulate Inter Milan. They played well," Seongnam coach Shin Tae Yong said. "They are several levels higher than us and were physically stronger than us. When it came to passing, our players couldn't cover them."

But having praised his team's opponents, Shin also said the referee "was biased" for allowing several Inter players to get overly physical. He also accused Zanetti of using his hand in the buildup to the third goal.

"We could have been more effective if the referee had done his job," Shin said.

Rossi leads Villarreal

LONDON (AP) Giuseppe Rossi scored twice, raising his season total to 13 goals and leading Villarreal to a 2-1 victory at Brugge on Wednesday night in the Europa League.

Rossi, from Clifton, N.J., has five Europa League goals this season. He had a tying goal on a header from Joan Capdevila's cross in the 30th minute, then converted a penalty kick in the 34th after he was bundled over by Ryan Donk.

American forward Jozy Altidore entered in the 78th minute for the Yellow Submarine, already assured a berth in the 32-team second round.

Napoli advanced with a 1-0 victory over Steaua Bucharest as Edinson Cavani scored in second-half injury time.

Sevilla, which won the competition in 2006 and '07 when it was called the UEFA Cup, drew 2-2 with Borussia Dortmund to reach the second round.

PAOK Thessaloniki won 1-0 at Dinamo Zagreb to advance.

Twenty-one sides have advanced from the group stage, and defending champion Atletico Madrid is among six teams seeking the final three qualifying places Thursday. They will be joined in Friday's draw by the eight third-place teams from the first round of the Champions League.

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