PSV Eindhoven had to content themselves with a place in the UEFA Cup after losing their final Group G match 1-0 at home to section winners FC Internazionale Milano.
No way back
The Dutch champions needed to beat the Nerazzurri while hoping that Fenerbahçe SK dropped points at home to PFC CSKA Moskva in order to survive in the UEFA Champions League – but neither result went their way. The dismissal of midfielder Edison Méndez just before the half-hour hinted that it was not going to be PSV's night, and a Julio Cruz goal in the 64th minute confirmed the suspicion as Inter deservedly finished on a high.
With PSV bearing the heavier onus, they attacked almost immediately and within two minutes midfielder Jason Culina had volleyed a Mike Zonneveld cross narrowly wide. The first real opening went Inter's way, though, as Santiago Solari was sent clean through by the impressive David Suazo but the legs of Heurelho Gomes kept out the Argentinian's low shot.
Méndez sees red
PSV's task became significantly trickier after 28 minutes. Marco Materazzi's long clearance from inside his own area inexplicably caught the home defence flat-footed and allowed Suazo a free run on goal which was only ended by Méndez's lunging illegal challenge. Referee Markus Merk, on his final international assignment at the age of 45 after an esteemed career, had no option other than to issue a straight red to the midfielder.
Inter in control
The first half wound down with Inter predictably in charge. Solari and Maxwell were combining well down the left, and Cruz often dropped deep to help in the build-up. The former Feynoord forward almost opened the scoring five minutes before the interval, yet Gomes somehow parried his angled strike from inside the box. In an isolated home offensive, Danko Lazović evaded Materazzi for the first time only to curl his left-footed effort wide of Júlio César's right post.
No matter how hard PSV pushed, they always found a wall of black-and-blue shirts blocking their path to goal – Lazović running into six of them soon after the restart following an enterprising 50-metre cross-field run. Jan Wouters' men did carve out an opportunity soon after, but Carlos Salcido blazed over after good work by Jefferson Farfán. Cruz replied in kind at the other end, lifting a shot over the bar after he had found himself with almost too much space and free on Gomes's goal. The No9 made no mistake on 64 minutes, tapping the ball into an empty net after another fine surge by the man whose skill and endeavour had also worked that previous chance, Suazo.
Despite bringing on Kenneth Perez and Ismaïl Aissati to freshen their front line, César's goal was never breached. Indeed, the best of the late openings went the way of Roberto Mancini's Serie A leaders, Solari firing against the post.