The immensity of the achievement by ten-man FC Internazionale Milano and the prodigious amount of energy it took for José Mourinho's charges to pip the Spanish, European and world titleholders to the UEFA Champions League final meant that for a moment or two after the whistle they were too tired and too stunned to celebrate.
Defeated 1-0 on the night but 3-2 victors on aggregate, they and their coach eventually rose from the turf and jigged for joy, while their 3,000 travelling fans roared delight down from the vertiginous heights of Camp Nou's top tier. The Italian club's post-match mood quickly became focused and restrained again, however, as players drained after competing for over an hour following Thiago Motta's dismissal turned their thoughts to facing FC Bayern München in the competition showpiece on 22 May.
"Inter have been waiting for so many years to reach another Champions League final that to finally achieve it and to do it in this stadium is a particular satisfaction," battling midfielder Esteban Cambiasso told UEFA.com. "It's imperative that we keep our feet on the ground, though. Not only is this still one massive step short of glory, because we have the final against Bayern to play and win, we also have three 'finals' left if we want to win our domestic league and also the Coppa Italia final before we can think about the Champions League final in Madrid. So I don't want talk about potentially winning a treble but to ensure we are ready for the vital games we have left this season."
Having won the first leg at the San Siro with blisteringly quick and often daring football, Mourinho's team put on a masterclass of what was once known as 'catenaccio'. Despite their one-man disadvantage following Motta's straight red card in the 28th minute, Inter's beleaguered players seemed to draw strength from Júlio César's outstanding save moments later, only buckling once six minutes from the end as Gerard Piqué's late goal set up a tense finale.
"Because of our history it has been a massive objective all season to ensure that we make this final," added Cambiasso, who maintained that the Nerrazzurri had shown their true colours in last week's opening leg. "Once we were reduced to ten men in this game, against a side like Barcelona, you know that it's not your key objective to go on creating chances.
We had to set ourselves up to get the right result at Camp Nou given the circumstances, but nobody can tell me that we played defensively in the first leg in establishing our 3-1 lead."
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