Inter Milan thump mighty Barcelona 3-1
Inter Milan snagged Barcelona's seemingly inevitable run to another Champions League crown, with a resounding 3-1 win over the title-holders in the first leg semi-final yesterday.
"We have beaten the best team in the world," Inter coach Jose Mourinho said.
Pedro Rodriguez gave Barcelona the lead in the 19th minute, but Wesley Sneijder equalised before the break. Once Maicon gave Inter the lead early in the second period, the hosts were able to dominate, and Diego Milito deservedly added a third with a header midway through the second half.
"Yesterday I said it was 50-50 and we saw what happened today and it isn't a dream, it is real," Mourinho said. "We played Barcelona and we won. We have the match to come in Barcelona and I will still say it is 50-50."
However, in talking of the second leg, he said a narrow loss at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium would be worth a win anywhere else.
"We want to get to the final, but Barcelona is a great team with a great coach and great players," he said. "Losing 2-1 (there) would be a better result than our 3-1 win tonight."
As the match continued Barcelona appeared fatigued, perhaps feeling the effects of the 725-kilometre (450-mile) coach trip the team was forced to take, after flights were grounded across Europe following the volcanic eruption in Iceland.
Inter might have to make the same arrangement for the return leg next week Wednesday.
"I'm not a doctor so I couldn't say if the journey affected us," Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said. "The result wasn't good and we lost the ball too often. Today wasn't our best game."
To add to their problems, Barcelona captain Carles Puyol will miss the return leg after being booked for a foul on Milito.
"This is the semi-finals of the Champions League. It's never easy," Guardiola said. "The Champions League is tough. We tried but we couldn't find the spaces we wanted. That happens sometimes when you play against a great team like Inter.
"We started to attack with a high tempo at the end of the game and gave Inter's defence doubts," he said, "but it didn't change how the match finished."
Meanwhile, Bayern Munich will have a distinct advantage going into their semi-final today against Lyon - the German team was spared a long journey. Bayern have their own distraction, however, and sought to deflect uncomfortable questions about star winger Franck Ribery.
Lyon took a two-day trip in several minivans to Munich because of the air traffic disruptions caused by volcanic ash from Iceland.
"I think it's bothersome before a match like this," Bayern defender Philipp Lahm said. "But on the day of the match you are so full of adrenaline, you won't think about it."
But Lyon goalkeeper Hugo Lloris dismissed the long voyage as a possible excuse.
"We have to look at it positively, put it behind us. We arrived with a lot of enthusiasm and we are eager for the semifinal," Lloris said. "Bayern is a big club but no matter who the opponent is, our goal is to go as far as possible. They have individuals who can make the difference but we have to draw on our own qualities."