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Barcelona vs Inter Milan. UEFA Champions League Semi-Final.

Camp NouAttendance95,000.

Barcelona 1

  • G Piqué (84th minute)

Inter Milan 0

  • T Motta (sent off 28th minute)


Mourinho mission on course

Image: Mourinho: Night to remember

Jose Mourinho achieved his latest European masterstroke as 10-man Inter Milan reached their first UEFA Champions League final.

Italians survive after Motta dismissal and late Pique goal

Jose Mourinho achieved his latest European masterstroke as 10-man Inter Milan reached their first UEFA Champions League final despite a 1-0 semi-final second-leg defeat at Barcelona. Inter arrived at Camp Nou holding a 3-1 aggregate lead over last season's continental kings and they never truly looked in danger of surrendering that advantage in Catalunya, although Gerard Pique set up a tense finish with a superb late goal. The first half was cagey before controversially exploding into life shortly before the half-hour mark when Inter's Thiago Motta was harshly shown a red card by referee Frank de Bleeckere for offering a gentle fending arm in the face of Sergi Busquets. There was contact but, as Busquets offered a cynical glance from behind his hands when rolling on the floor in theatrical agony, the irony of the dismissal will not have been lost on Motta after he accused Barcelona of diving in the build-up to the match. However, a numerical disadvantage in manpower did little to damage Inter, who maintained a tight defensive formation that stifled the guile of Lionel Messi and Xavi with relative ease. The Serie A leaders continued to frustrate their hosts in the second half as Pep Guardiola failed to conjure a Plan B, before Pique created a nail-biting conclusion with a cool finish in the 84th minute. Barcelona, though, could not find the necessary second on the night as a Bojan strike was debatably ruled out to mean that their 'obsession', in the words of Mourinho, of retaining their title in the Bernabeu came to an end. Instead it will be Inter who take on Bayern Munich at the home of Real Madrid in late May for the right to be crowned Europe's best team as Mourinho edged closer to meeting the mandate that he was set when accepting his Italian job in 2008. And for the 'Special One', who celebrated triumphantly on the pitch at the final whistle, it was vindication following a turbulent spell in Italy and his controversial departure from Chelsea, where he was unable to deliver a repeat of his remarkable Champions League success with Porto in 2004. Needing a 2-0 win or better to advance, Guardiola opted for an attacking 3-4-3 line-up, with Yaya Toure alongside Pique and Gabi Milito at the back.


Inter made a last-minute change with striker Goran Pandev, originally named in the starting XI, replaced by defender Cristian Chivu, with suggestions Mourinho was up to his trademark mind games, which had eliminated Chelsea in the last 16. Such a move is only allowed if an injury has occurred and Inter could yet be asked to provide evidence to that effect. As expected, Barca completely dominated the opening stages. The Catalans had around 80 per cent of the possession early on, but Inter were organised and looking comfortable. Xavi brilliantly turned Wesley Sneijder on the edge of the area, but was unable to set up Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was hugely disappointing, as he has been for much of his debut season for Barcelona since leaving Inter. Pedro then tried his luck with a shot from distance, but Barca were struggling for inspiration. Mourinho, a former translator at Barcelona under Sir Bobby Robson, would have been content, but the Portuguese coach was less happy as his side went down to 10 men after 28 minutes. In his pre-match press conference Mourinho had asked for protection from the referee, while Motta had accused Barcelona of being divers. Although those words were seen as provocative, they also turned out to be somewhat prophetic as Busquets threw himself to the ground clutching his face after Motta had pushed him on the chin. Mourinho sarcastically applauded the decision while Barca set about taking the initiative against Inter's 10 men. And it looked as if they might when Messi skipped past two defenders on the edge of the box and curled a venomous low shot towards the bottom corner, only to see his effort pushed superbly around the post by Julio Cesar.
Divine inspiration
Barca were camped in the Inter area for the remainder of the half, but essentially little had changed. Mourinho's men held out until half-time and Barca knew they were in a game, even against 10 men. Guardiola's side still needed two goals as the second period got under way and things were not getting any easier for the Catalans. Inter were playing the offside trap to great effect and Barca were reduced to hopeful crosses to Ibrahimovic, who was showing exactly why he has failed to win over the Catalan faithful since his big-money move in the summer. The Swede finally departed after 63 minutes, replaced by Bojan Krkic, as Guardiola looked to add some much-needed vitality to his floundering forward line. Barca fans pleaded for a moment of divine inspiration from Messi, but the Argentinian had failed to score in six games against Mourinho sides and that statistic appeared unlikely to change as the time ticked away. Bojan headed agonisingly wide from Messi's cross late on, but Pique ensured a rousing finale as he collected Xavi's pass in the area, left goalkeeper Julio Cesar floored with a neat pirouette and rolled the ball into the empty net. There was a hint of offside, much like Inter's third goal in Milan, but the home fans hardly cared. The noise was deafening in the final five minutes, plus four of added time, as Barca poured forward, willed on by close to 100,000 loyal fans. Bojan lashed home in added time, but Yaya Toure was harshly ruled to have handled and Inter survived to set up a final meeting with Bayern.

Barcelona Team Statistics Inter Milan
1 Goals 0
0 1st Half Goals 0
4 Shots on Target 0
11 Shots off Target 1
5 Blocked Shots 0
9 Corners 2
20 Fouls 15
4 Offsides 5
1 Yellow Cards 5
0 Red Cards 1
93.6 Passing Success 54.3
16 Tackles 18
62.5 Tackles Success 61.1
86.4 Possession 13.6
78.0 Territorial Advantage 22.0

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