Esteban Cambiasso praised the "extraordinary work of our three forwards" after FC Internazionale Milano's 3-1 win against FC Barcelona in the first leg of their semi-final tie at the San Siro, a sixth consecutive UEFA Champions League victory for José Mourinho's side.
Attacking midfielder Wesley Sneijder cancelled out Pedro Rodríguez's early goal, while right-back Maicon scored the second for the Nerazzurri. Having wasted a couple of good first-half chances, Diego Milito was the only Inter forward on target, adding a potentially crucial third. Yet according to Cambiasso, the "contagious" work ethic of his Argentina team-mate, Samuel Eto'o and Goran Pandev were key to victory.
"I cannot say enough about the three forwards and the work they put in for the team," Cambiasso told UEFA.com. "
When you see the forwards running that much, fighting for every ball as they did ... it forced us to give our all as well." It was no surprise, perhaps, that Milito was forced off with cramp late on.
"Against a team like Barcelona you need to press all over the pitch," explained Pandev. "They can give you a headache with their possession. We were prepared to put the work in and were always calm because while we know Barcelona are very good we also know that we are as good. I think both teams still have 50% chances of qualifying as I anticipate a very tough game at Camp Nou."
The 29-year-old Cambiasso also believes Inter still have plenty of work to do if they are to reach the final in Madrid on 22 May. "We played well in part one, but now comes the second part," he said. "We will try to go there and qualify next week. We will need the same approach because the tie is still wide open. Barcelona are a great team. We were one goal down today but now we are two up. They are certainly capable of doing the same."
When the two sides met at Camp Nou in the group stage, Barcelona won 2-0, a result that would take the UEFA Champions League holders to the final. Cambiasso, though, is confident Inter have improved since then. "Barcelona did not get time to play their own game today, especially in midfield and between the lines where they have very dangerous players," he said. "We were very good on the counterattack, playing positively as a team, but you don't beat a team like Barcelona if you don't do many positive things."
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