Inter Milan FC stun Barcelona FC 3-1

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Inter Milan's Diego Milito celebrates after scoring against Barcelona during their Champions League first leg, semi-final soccer match at San Siro stadium in Milan April 20, 2010. Photo: REUTERS

 Tireless Inter Milan produced a rip-roaring home performance to overpower Barcelona 3-1 and leave the holders in real trouble after an inspiring Champions League semi-final, first leg on Tuesday.

Goals from Wesley Sneijder, Maicon and Diego Milito, after Pedro had given Barca the lead, set up a fascinating second leg at the Nou Camp next Wednesday.

In one of the most electric atmospheres inside the San Siro for years, both sides stretched every last sinew to the limit as Europe's top club competition again showed why fans the world over are so hooked.

Inter had the better of the early chances but first blood went to Barca, forced to make a 14-hour bus journey to reach the match because of the Icelandic volcano restricting flights.

Left back Maxwell, who quit Inter for the La Liga leaders last year, exposed his former team mates by reaching the byline unmarked and his pullback was slotted home by Spain World Cup hopeful Pedro after 19 minutes.

Forward Pedro was again preferred to Thierry Henry in Barca's starting lineup and the diminutive livewire forward is fast looking a good bet to gatecrash Spain's World Cup squad.

Inter, who were last European Cup winners in 1965 and playing in their first Champions League semi-final since 2003, then demonstrated the steel-plated resilience coach Jose Mourinho has instilled by hitting back on the half-hour.


Argentine striker Milito, who missed two glorious chances from tight angles, turned his back on goal when picking up the ball in the box but cleverly played in former Real Madrid playmaker Sneijder and the unmarked Dutchman slammed home.

Goran Pandev did well early in the second half to release Milito in a barnstorming break and his cut-back was scuffed home by right back Maicon, who was later taken off on a stretcher.

Milito headed in the third after 61 minutes and for a moment feared he had again been flagged offside before running to celebrate with the ecstatic Inter fans, who have been spoilt by four straight Serie A titles but starved of European success.

Ex-Inter striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, booed repeatedly by his former beloved crowd, had a few sniffs at goal while Lionel Messi only had one good effort after largely being kept under wraps by the sheer brute force of Inter's defence.

Barca, who protested to the referee at the final whistle after a couple of penalty appeals were waved away, pushed hard for a way back late on but Inter held firm.


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