Midway through the first half, Lazio momentarily drew level on points – albeit hypothetically in updated league tables across the cyber sphere – with Inter in Serie A. The head-to-head advantage, in fact, pushed the Biancoceleste into third place and president Claudio Lotito let a grin escape across his face.
Faced with the necessity of having to replace his sent-off goalkeeper Julio Cesar, Leonardo sacrificed one of his two strikers: off trudged Diego Milito.
“Wesley, Leonardo called you over to the touchline even before Zarate struck the penalty and the two of you spoke in depth. What was it your coach said to you and did it inspire you to produce the performance which has pulled Inter from fourth to second in the league?”
However, in the mixed zone, Mr Sneijder never strolled past the expectant journalists. The Lazio players, heavily protected by their media organiser, shuffled towards the waiting coach. The Inter equivalent explained that Castellazzi and Stankovic were to be the two players, as required by contract, to speak to the press.
No Wesley, whose expertly-struck free kick five minutes before half time took the teams into the interval tied 1-1. The player who, once shifted to the left of midfield, produced a sparkling performance, arguably his most inspirational this season.
Never would it be known whether Leonardo’s re-reading of Sophie's World had brought the Brazilian coach an insight which brought about an “impossible” turnaround. Which, if any, of the Ancient Greek philosophers’ – or perhaps even Hegel’s or Marx’s – thoughts filtered through the words of author Jostein Gaarder led an outnumbered Nerazzurri side rediscover desire, hunger and conviction.
Sneijder was even treated to the luxury of a standing ovation as Inter, now playing 10 against 10, won their 11th home match on the spin and climbed the table to second rather than sliding out of the last direct Champions League berth.
A well-deserved early shower and no press commitments for the Dutchman. Damn.