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Wesley Sneijder told UEFA.com FC Internazionale Milano's self-belief had brought them back from the brink of elimination to claim a place in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals at FC Bayern München's expense.
The champions' title defence hung by a thread at half-time in their second-leg tie in Germany after Bayern had shrugged off Samuel Eto'o's early strike to build a 3-1 aggregate lead. Inter regrouped, however, and Sneijder made it 2-2 on the night before Goran Pandev's 88th-minute effort took the holders into the last eight on away goals.
"We knew it would be a difficult game, especially because we were losing 1-0 from the first leg, but I think we did a great job," said Sneijder, who helped Inter become only the second side in UEFA Champions League history to turn a home first-leg deficit into an aggregate victory. "
We always believed we could win, and I think we deserved to in the end.
"We started very well, but of course we were a bit disappointed to concede the two goals," added the Dutch international. "Still, we believed we could recover, even at half-time. We started the second half very well and created some chances straight away. We scored a good goal to level it at 2-2, and after that went looking for the win. Finally we scored – it was a nice game."
It was a match that appeared to be slipping away from the Nerazzurri, though, despite Eto'o registering his 36th goal in 44 appearances for club and country this season with just four minutes gone to level the aggregate score. Bayern had won all 20 ties in which they had held a first-leg advantage, and looked set to maintain that proud record when Mario Gomez and Thomas Müller struck to ease Louis van Gaal's men into a position of strength.
"When Bayern scored to make it 1-1 and then 2-1 immediately, they were dominating, because they felt as though they could win this game and go through comfortably," admitted playmaker Sneijder. "But we continued looking for a goal in the second half and continued playing well."
That Inter were able to repeat last term's UEFA Champions League final triumph against Bayern owed much to goalkeeper Júlio César. A handling error from the Brazilian had allowed Gomez to score the only goal of the first leg, and another gave the German international the opportunity to notch his eighth of the competition in Munich.
However, the Inter No1 redeemed himself, denying Franck Ribéry in the first period before brilliantly parrying a vicious Gomez volley early in the second to provide his team with the platform for their remarkable turnaround. "He did a great job, we're very happy with him," acknowledged Sneijder. "As a goalkeeper it's not always easy. If you make a mistake, it usually ends in a goal. The second half he did very well. He kept us in the game."
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