Despite losing 1-0 to a late goal from Barcelona’s centre-half-cum-centre-forward Pique, Inter Milan carried their two goal advantage through their UEFA Champions League 2010 Semi-Final second leg in the Camp Nou to progress to this years final.
The Italian champions put in a terrific defensive performance to hold out and progress 3-2 on aggregate.
Reaching the final – Inter Milan manager Jose Mourinho’s third Champions League Final for his third club – was all the more impressive for the club as they were forced to play tonight’s away leg with ten men after losing Motta to a straight red card on the half hour mark.
Inter Milan put in an excellent performance to restrict Barcelona to just one shot on target – an excellent Lionel Messi bending effort that was superbly saved by Julio Cesar in the Inter net – in the first half.
There was not to be another shot on either net until there were under ten minutes remaining. Certainly, one was not likely from an Inter Milan who spent most of their time camped around their box in a tight 4-4-1 formation.
When Barcelona did get on the scoresheet, it was through Pique, who turned well, selling a defender and goalkeeper in the process, before firing home to rapturous applause from the home faithful.
Barcelona then proceeded to pepper shots on the Inter goal: both Xavi and Messi worked Julio Cesar before second half substitute Bojan scored what he thought was the vital, clinching goal. This was disallowed, however, as the referee had already blown for a Yaya Toure handball that was clear in the replay.
Bojan will be more disappointed, however, with his header from close range on 80 minutes which missed the target despite him being free from his marker for the first time in the whole match. Messi had picked him out well from the left side of the Inter box. Had this header gone in, the match might have gone their way.
Ifs and buts are worth nothing in football, and Jose Mourinho is a coach who deals in results. May 22 will be the coach’s third UEFA Champions League Final – last time we saw him throw his losers medal into the crowd with Chelsea. The man, whom Barcelona fans still call “the translator” owing to the role he used to play for the club under Sir Bobby Robson, may well claim the top prize in club football once more.
The defining moment from tonight’s game was not to be a winning goal from either side, it was Jose Mourinho sprinting onto the pitch as the final whistle blew following 94 minutes of gruelling defence from his Internazionale men in white.