Inter beat Ajax, advance to quarters

Milan, March 15:

Dejan Stankovic scored in the 57th minute and Inter Milan beat Ajax 1-0 on Tuesday to take the last spot in the Champions League quarter-finals. Inter advanced on 3-2 aggregate and will face Spain’s Villarreal in the last eight.

Inter dominated the first half but was starting to cede control when defender Walter Samuel intercepted an Ajax pass and launched Stankovic on a counterattack. Upon entering the area, Stankovic dribbled around Hedwiges Maduro and drilled in a hard, angled shot to the far corner of the net. Stankovic also scored in the first leg, when Inter conceded two first-half goals before rallying to draw 2-2.

Despite being able to advance with a goalless draw, Inter created early chances. Obafemi Martins struck the crossbar with a shot from outside the area in the 12th minute and Adriano put a penalty wide in the 27th.

Inter joined Juventus and Milan to give Italy three teams in the quarters for the second season in a row.

Inter will host the first leg against Villarreal on March 29 and travel to Spain for the second leg on April 4. In other quarter-finals, it’s: Arsenal vs Juventus; Benfica vs FC Barcelona; and Lyon vs AC Milan. The semi-finals first leg matches are slated for April 18 and 19 with return legs on April 25 and 26.

FA Cup

MANCHESTER: Giorgios Samaras repaid another chunk of his $10.5m transfer fee to help Manchester City into the last eight of the FA Cup with a 2-1 win over Aston Villa in a fifth round replay. Samaras claimed his fourth goal since his January move to give City a well-deserved early lead in the 17th minute.

Darius Vassell doubled the lead against his former club with a close-range strike three minutes after the interval and Steven Davis pulled one back five minutes from the end.

Manchester City’s reward was a quarter-final tie against either Bolton or West Ham on Monday, although Samaras might not be available for that match after being forced off injured at half-time.