INTER MILAN (3) v/s BARCELONA (1)
LIVERPOOL may be taking more than 24 hours to get to Madrid, but Inter Milan needed just 90 minutes last night to take a huge stride towards the Spanish capital and the final of the Champions League.
Jose Mourinho’s team recovered from conceding an early goal to convincingly beat Barcelona and leave the holders on the brink of being eliminated from a competition they have been widely tipped to win again.
Pedro put Barca in front after 19 minutes but Wesley Sneijder equalised on the half-hour and second-half goals from Maicon and Diego Milito made the Italians favourites to reach the final at the Santiago Bernabeu on 22 May.
Former Chelsea manager Mourinho reignited his feud with Barca after the final whistle, accusing their players of being bad losers and haranguing the referee as they trudged down the tunnel.
“We won and deserved it,” said Mourinho. “Why can Barcelona not act like champions and accept they lost on the night to a team that played better?”
Barca coach Pep Guardiola refused to blame the long coach journey his team were forced to undertake to reach Milan due to the air travel chaos in Europe this week.
“I don’t want to make excuses,” said Guardiola. “It was a long trip, that is true, but this is the semi-finals of the Champions League and the desire to reach the final should be important enough.”
Winger Pedro looked anything but sluggish when he pounced on a cut-back to rifle the Catalans in front from 12 yards, although Sneijder soon made amends with a simple side-footed finish. Inter took control after the interval and went ahead in the 48th minute when Milito teed up the on-rushing Maicon. Argentina striker Milito increased the Italians’ advantage ahead of next week’s return leg on 61 minutes when he converted an unmissable header.