Ranieri pleased to recover from 'handicap'
The Italian side made the worst possible start to the group campaign in September, losing 1-0 at home to Turkish outfit Trabzonspor under the guidance of former coach Gian Piero Gasperini.
Fortunes have turned under Ranieri, however, with a run of three straight wins ensuring I Nerazzurri were able to celebrate qualification even before last night's 1-1 draw in the return against Trabzonspor.
Inter kicked off with their progress already guaranteed after group rivals Lille beat CSKA Moscow in an earlier encounter, but the point in Turkey was enough to ensure they cannot be caught in top spot.
"We mustn't forget that by losing to Trabzonspor in the first match we started the campaign [under Ranieri's guidance] on zero points," said Ranieri in quotes reported by the club's website. "We started off with a handicap and finished on top."
Ricardo Alvarez's first-half goal for Inter was cancelled out by Halil Altintop's spectacular effort in an entertaining encounter in Trabzon, with both teams doing enough to win the match.
Pleased with Inter performance
And Ranieri could not fault the effort of his players at the final whistle. "I'm pleased. The lads played well and put in a great effort to win the match," he said.
Ranieri dismissed fears that his side might take it easy in their final game against CSKA, despite the fight for second place going down to the wire between the three other teams in the group.
"The Trabzonspor fans have nothing to worry about," he said. "We'll do our duty against CSKA as we finish the group stage at home in front of our own fans."