MILAN – There are memories that can never be forgotten. There are words associated with these memories that lead you to replay certain images in your mind, one after another. As if those memories and those moments were taking place in the here and now (watch the highlights of Inter vs. Barcelona at the bottom of this article).
Eyjafjallajokull is the name of the volcano which forced Barcelona to travel to Milan by bus as opposed to flying: the cloud of smoke and ash caused huge disruption to air travel across Europe.
That run by Maxwell, a former Nerazzurri player, down the left flank and Pedro’s goal to make it 0-1. It seemed to be the beginning of the end.
Milito’s missed opportunity in front of Victor Valdes: perhaps it just wasn’t going to be Inter’s night?
Sneijder’s kissing motion after being set up by Milito to equalise: 1-1. We were back in it, and Milito had made up for not scoring earlier on.
Pandev’s burst forward and ball through: he seemed to fly up the pitch!
Maicon’s celebratory run behind Victor Valdes’s goal: another Milito assist, a goal for The Colossus, 2-1.
Julio Cesar’s saves and last-ditch defending in the six-yard box: never give in, never give up.
And then that incredible moment where everybody, arms out wide, ran in different directions. It was almost like a scene from a children’s playground. Some ran towards Milito, some ran towards their other teammates, some ran towards the fans. Unadulterated joy. 3-1!
That piece of play will forever remain etched in our history, starting from that courageous and perfect tackle by Thiago Motta in the final third. The best possible example of winning the ball high up the pitch. From that sliding tackle to a pass forward to Eto’o, a cross from the right, Sneijder’s downward header and Diego’s finish. He really wanted to get on the scoresheet. And he did, finding the net with his head. He quickly glanced towards the linesman and then ran away. He ran away in delight. He’d just made it 3-1.
There were a thousand more pages still to be written in the final 30 minutes of that fixture: Maicon lost two teeth after a challenge with Messi and was stretchered off, Lucio celebrated as if he’d scored after clearing the ball of the line, Balotelli was brought on and the final whistle was eventually blown.
It was just the first leg, but Guardiola’s Barcelona had never lost a match by a two-goal margin until that day.
It led to the "Ens hi deixarem la pell!" campaign, where the Barcelona players vowed to play out of their skins at Camp Nou in the return fixture.
But we had a dream, and that dream was to make it to Madrid.
- Mourinho: “Winning against Barcelona isn’t easy, scoring against them isn’t easy, defending against them isn’t easy. But we managed to do all of this. We’ve deservedly emerged victorious.”
- Zanetti: “We showed our strength, but now we need to stay focused and think about the path ahead of us.”
- Milito: “We’re very happy with this win, our performance was excellent. It wasn’t easy, including from a mental point of view, but we managed to do it. We worked well and were able to keep Messi and Ibrahimovic at bay.”
- Stankovic: “It was a great game, an unforgettable evening for everybody: for us, the Club and particularly the fans. It’s an evening that will remain etched in history, even if it’s only the first chapter.”
- Cambiasso: “The strength of this group was on display. You can’t win against a team like this without the maximum contribution from everybody involved, from the whole group.”
INTER 3-1 BARCELONA
Goalscorers: 19' Pedro, 30' Sneijder, 48’ Maicon, 61’ Milito
INTER: 12 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon (73’ Chivu), 6 Lucio, 25 Samuel, 4 Zanetti; 19 Cambiasso, 8 Thiago Motta; 27 Pandev (56’ Stankovic), 10 Sneijder, 9 Eto'o; 22 Milito (75’ Balotelli).
Substitutes: 21 Orlandoni, 2 Cordoba, 23 Materazzi, 11 Muntari.
Coach: José Mourinho.
BARCELONA: 1 Valdes; 2 Dani Alves, 5 Puyol, 3 Piqué, 19 Maxwell; 6 Xavi, 16 Busquets; 15 Keita; 10 Messi, 9 Ibrahimovic (62’ Abidal), 17 Pedro.
Substitutes: 13 Pinto, 4 Marquez, 11 Bojan, 14 Henry, 18 G.Milito, 24 Touré.
Coach: Joseph Guardiola.
Referee: Olegario Benquerenca
Bookings: 12' Eto'o, 45' Busquets, 51’ Puyol, 60’ Piqué, 68’ Keita, 82’ Stankovic, 83’ Alves.
Added time: 1', 4'.