Moratti retains faith in Leonardo
© AFP

Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti insists he has faith in coach Leonardo despite last night's stunning 5-2 home defeat by Schalke which all but extinguished their hopes of defending their UEFA Champions League title.

The match began with the hosts scoring one of the great Champions League goals courtesy of Dejan Stankovic's stunning 50-yard volley, but ended with their hopes of retaining their title all but dead as Schalke claimed a commanding advantage in the quarter-final tie.

Last night's defeat, during which Cristian Chivu was sent off for the hosts, followed a 3-0 loss to AC Milan which saw Inter slip five points behind their city rivals in the Serie A standings. Moratti believes fatigue was a major factor in last night's result but he has confidence in Leonardo's ability and insists the club is unified.

We are all very united. Everyone together. This is not a situation that has us scared.
Massimo Moratti, Inter Milan president

He said: "I can say that he is an intelligent person who is doing a job that certainly isn't easy, and he makes some intelligent reasoning. Football is connected to many things like luck and timing, and this is a moment that can be overcome. We are all very united. Everyone together. This is not a situation that has us scared."

However, Moratti added that had been shocked by events at the San Siro, saying: "What happened was something unexpected, a lesson. But in a word, the players are still who they are and so we're going to face this situation just the same.

"Quite often the things that seem impossible become easier, so we'll see if we know how to do what is necessary to turn this into something positive. It is not easy, but I believe that everything mainly came down to fatigue. And if that's the case then we have to get ourselves back on track, and with the players we have at our disposal."

It's been a very difficult week, a terrible week.
Leonardo, Inter Milan coach

Leonardo added after last night's game: "It's been a very difficult week, a terrible week. The game couldn't have started any better. We were playing well. Who could have imagined it would turn out like that? A crushing defeat. We paid the full price for a couple of episodes: Schalke had seven shots on target and scored five goals.

"In the second half, after we'd had our chances, they got two goals which pointed the game in a certain direction. Lots of things went wrong. We had used up so much energy getting to this point, closing the gap in the league, where we had no option but to win: that mentality is something instilled within the team."

Looking to next week's second leg in Germany, Leonardo added: "It's pretty unrealistic to think about what could happen in the return leg, to think about pulling off such an incredible comeback, but we have to play the return leg and we will play it.

"We were all so happy until not long ago and now, together, we'll get through this moment as well. The team needs to respond, recover some energy, mentally too, and get going again. And that's what we will do."