Inter reached the Champions League final on Wednesday, beating Barcelona 3-2 on aggregate in their semi-final despite losing the second leg 1-0 and playing an hour of the game with 10 men.
Jose Mourinho’s Inter, who won the first game 3-1 last week, will face Bayern Munich in the final on May 22 in Madrid.
Despite Gerard Pique’s 84th-minute goal, defending champions Barcelona were unable to find the crucial second goal as 10-man Inter held on, breathing a sigh of relief when Bojan Krkic had a stoppage-time effort chalked off for handball.
Inter showed their game plan from the start as they sat back, an ominous task against a top side and particularly so with the attacking flair at Barca’s disposal.
After just three minutes, Pedro came inside Maicon on the left wing, but sent a wayward shot past the far post.
The Italians were doing their upmost to take the intensity out of the match, delaying at set-plays and goalkeeper Julio Cesar was shown a yellow card for repeatedly taking his time with goal-kicks, but this only served to further raise the already electric atmosphere, with the 90,000 Catalan fans whistling in frustration.
The explosive atmosphere finally boiled over when Motta, already with a yellow card for an earlier challenge, swung an arm at Sergio Busquets, who was tugging at his shirt. While Motta was furious with Busquets for what he saw as an over-reaction, the referee reached straight for the red card and the Italians were left to battle with 10 men for the rest of the game.
The sending off did little to change the match as Inter continued to doggedly defy Barca and it was a telling statistic that at halftime Inter had not had a single shot at goal.
Although not pleasing on the eye, Inter were excelling at cutting out the threat from Barca. Messi and Ibrahimovic were largely anonymous, with the latter replaced by Bojan Krkic with half an hour to go.
Inter were growing into their job, while Barca were resorting to shots from distance.
The game appeared to be in control for Inter until Pique turned in the box and tucked the ball into the corner leading to a grandstand finish.
Bojan thought he had won it, but his superb finish in the third minute of stoppage-time was ruled out for handball against Toure.
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