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Impressive Inter leave Barça on the ropes

Published: Tuesday 20 April 2010, 22.39CET
FC Internazionale Milano 3-1 FC Barcelona
Goals from Wesley Sneijder, Maicon and Diego Milito left the European champions with it all to do in next week's return.
by Patrick Hart
from San Siro

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Match statistics

InternazionaleBarcelona

Goals scored3
 
1
Attempts on target5
 
7
Attempts off target3
 
1
Corners2
 
4
Offsides9
 
2
Fouls committed18
 
21
Yellow cards2
 
5
Red cards0
 
0

Standings

 
Published: Tuesday 20 April 2010, 22.39CET

Impressive Inter leave Barça on the ropes

FC Internazionale Milano 3-1 FC Barcelona
Goals from Wesley Sneijder, Maicon and Diego Milito left the European champions with it all to do in next week's return.

FC Internazionale Milano gave a rousing home performance to take a 3-1 first-leg lead in their UEFA Champions League semi-final against FC Barcelona.

José Mourinho's indefatigables inflicted only a fourth defeat of the season on a Barcelona side bidding to make modern history by retaining the trophy. Instead, the goals from Wesley Sneijder, Maicon and Diego Milito, in response to Pedro Rodríguez's away goal, will greatly encourage Inter's own dream of a first European crown since 1965.

The first danger to an Inter side contesting their eighth European Champion Clubs' Cup semi-final was Zlatan Ibrahimović's periscopic leg that just failed to reach a Maxwell cross. With the Nerazzurri protecting a proud record of never having lost at home in those semi-finals, Mourinho chose, as he had against Chelsea FC, to deploy Sneijder ahead of midfield minders Thiago Motta and Esteban Cambiasso.

Cambiasso soon suggested that Lionel Messi may be human after all by dispossessing his compatriot in the Inter half, initiating a move that ended with Milito's jinking run into the Barcelona area. Milito might also have done better from a rebound after Víctor Valdés had parried former team-mate Samuel Eto'o's bobbling shot. Instead, one of Barcelona's two ex-Interistas, alongside Ibrahimović, helped hit his old club with a sucker-punch. Left-back Maxwell, unchecked by Maicon, broke into the box and his cutback invited Pedro to slot the ball past Júlio César.

Such precision was the missing ingredient as the half-hour approached, when left-sided attacker Goran Pandev sent Milito through on goal and the striker angled his shot agonisingly wide. Milito made instant amends, however, creating a clear opening for Sneijder with his lay-off from Eto'o's driven pass, and the playmaker drove in via the foot of Valdés. Barcelona had retained about 60% of possession after their 1,000km coach trip from Catalonia, yet the scoreboard showed parity. Indeed, Inter were doing justice to their noisy fans by giving at least as good as they got, even considering two vital Lucio blocks from Daniel Alves deliveries.

Inter were out first for the second half, and faster out of the blocks too as Milito fired a threatening cross which the unmarked Pandev narrowly failed to convert. Whatever Mourinho had told them at the interval, though, it worked. Pandev slipped in Milito who, though drawn wide of goal as he entered the area, still managed to tee up Maicon to finish from eight metres despite Seydou Keita's attentions. Barça looked shaken by the hosts' constant pressing yet they stirred sufficiently for Messi to test César, who then produced a reflex save from Sergio Busquets's free header.

The next headed intervention brought a deserved goal for the hard-running Milito. The stadium was rocking after Sneijder misdirected his header from Eto'o's firm right-wing cross, only for Milito to nod the ball in from close range. It was the first time world champions Barcelona had conceded three goals this season. A spell of frantic Inter defending frustrated them further, with Lucio blocking Gerard Piqué's goalbound effort. For now, that nice piece of history that says AC Milan are the last club to win back-to-back European crowns has Inter as its unlikely safe keepers.

Last updated: 10/12/12 11.41CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2010/matches/round=2000031/match=2000487/postmatch/report/index.html#inter+command

Quotes

  • José Mourinho

    Read more"We have two choices for the game in Barcelona: get to the final in Madrid or leave Europe with our heads held high"

  • Josep Guardiola

    Read more"We still have another chance in the second leg and we're going to do our best. We will attempt to play our attacking game at home"

At a glance

What happened
Pedro Rodríguez gave the holders an early lead but Wesley Sneijder equalised and second-half goals from Maicon and Diego Milito left Barça with it all to do.

Key moment

Three minutes after half-time, the marauding Maicon showed sharp footwork to prod in Milito's pass and reward Inter's strong start to the second period.

Numbers game
Barcelona's prospects of becoming the first team to swin consecutive European Champion Clubs' Cups since AC Milan in 1989 and 1990 are in the balance.

One on one
Lionel Messi had scored 16 goals in his last 12 matches – including four against Arsenal FC – but was expertly shackled by Javier Zanetti.

Crowd pleaser
Milito pounced to nod in Sneijder's misdirected header a minutes past the hour to give the home fans real hope that this could finally be their year.

What it means

Barcelona will be without captain Carles Puyol for next week's return at the Camp Nou, although Inter's Dejan Stanković is also banned.

Lineups

internazionale

Internazionale

barcelona

Barcelona

12
Júlio CésarJúlio César (GK)
1
Víctor ValdésVíctor Valdés (GK)
4
ZanettiJavier Zanetti (C)
2
Daniel AlvesDaniel Alves
Yellow Card84
6
LúcioLúcio
3
PiquéGerard Piqué
Yellow Card60
8
Thiago MottaThiago Motta
5
PuyolCarles Puyol (C)
Yellow Card51
9
Eto'oSamuel Eto'o
Yellow Card12
6
Xavi HernándezXavi Hernández
10
SneijderWesley Sneijder
Goal30
9
IbrahimovićZlatan Ibrahimović
Substitution62
13
MaiconMaicon
Goal48
Substitution73
10
MessiLionel Messi
19
CambiassoEsteban Cambiasso
15
KeitaSeydou Keita
Yellow Card68
22
Milito Diego Milito
Goal61
Substitution75
16
BusquetsSergio Busquets
Yellow Card45+1
25
SamuelWalter Samuel
17
Pedro RodríguezPedro Rodríguez
Goal19
27
PandevGoran Pandev
Substitution56
19
MaxwellMaxwell

Substitutes

21
OrlandoniPaolo Orlandoni (GK)
13
PintoJosé Manuel Pinto (GK)
2
CórdobaIván Córdoba
4
MárquezRafael Márquez
5
StankovićDejan Stanković
Substitution56
Yellow Card82
11
Bojan KrkićBojan Krkić
11
MuntariSulley Muntari
14
HenryThierry Henry
23
MaterazziMarco Materazzi
18
MilitoGabriel Milito
26
ChivuCristian Chivu
Substitution73
22
AbidalÉric Abidal
Substitution62
45
BalotelliMario Balotelli
Substitution75
24
Y. TouréYaya Touré

Coach

José Mourinho (POR) Josep Guardiola (ESP)

Referee

Olegário Benquerença (POR)

Assistant referees

Jose Cardinal (POR), Bertino Miranda (POR)

Fourth official

Artur Dias (POR)

Legend:

  • GoalsGoals
  • Own goalOwn goal
  • PenaltiesPenalties
  • Missed PenaltiesMissed Penalties
  • reds_cardRed Cards
  • yellow_cardsYellow cards
  • yellow_red_cardsYellow/red card
  • SubstitutionSubstitution
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