The frustration and disappointment were etched on the faces of the FC Bayern München players after their UEFA Champions League campaign was dramatically curtailed by FC Internazionale Milano.
Last season's beaten finalists looked set to exact a measure of revenge on the side that pipped them to European club football's ultimate prize last May when they led 3-1 on aggregate at half-time in Tuesday's second leg in Munich. That cushion would have been greater had Bayern taken more of the numerous opportunities created in an impressive first-half display, and they would rue their lack of ruthlessness as Internazionale struck twice after the break to advance to the quarter-finals on away goals.
"It wasn't Inter's good work, it was our stupidity," said forward Mario Gomez, who restored Bayern's first-leg advantage with a 21st-minute equaliser after Samuel Eto'o had levelled the aggregate score after only four minutes. "It's so frustrating to have played so well for 60 minutes, but then we just tried to keep them out. We should have continued playing calmly as we had been doing."
"When you look at the game, I think we played very well," Gomez's team-mate Danijel Pranjić told UEFA.com. "We should have scored a third but we didn't have any luck. What can you say? It's very difficult to say something clever. We lost again. We have to forget about this season, that's it."
Bayern shone in the opening 45 minutes against the European champions, but when the teams emerged from the interval, the hosts' confidence drained as that of the visitors grew, particularly after Wesley Sneijder made it 2-2 on the night to leave Inter needing a further goal in the closing 27 minutes.
"I think it was a shock when it got to 2-2 because it came from nothing," said Gomez. "But we were still going through to the next round at that point, against a team that really hadn't played well. They gave us an enormous amount of space, but we didn't manage to score more goals.
We had chances to get four, five or six. When you make such mistakes it doesn't matter if you go out or go through to the next round, because you won't win the Champions League. It's still really annoying, though, because the better team was knocked out."
"I don't know what happened in the second half. When you're 2-1 up, you think about trying to defend. But we didn't do that too well," admitted left-back Pranjić. "We gave them too many chances. I think we just had to score a third goal, then it would have been over for Inter."
Instead, it was the Serie A outfit who added a third through Goran Pandev with two minutes left to send Inter through. The unhappy ending reduced Bayern to a sole remaining aim for this season – to finish in the top three in the Bundesliga to ensure they have a chance of reaching the 2011/12 final, which will be played in Munich.
"That's the only thing that's left and we have to do it. It'll be difficult, because when you look at the whole season things are really difficult now," said Pranjić. "We have to try everything to do that, because it would not be a good thing if we're not in the top three. Next season the final will be played here and it would be tragic for Bayern if we were not in the running."
©UEFA.com 1998-2017. All rights reserved.