INTER MILAN 3
- Sneijder 30
- Maicon 48
- Milito 61
- Pedrito 19
*Barcelona’s attempt to becoming European soccer’s first repeat champion in two decades was jeopardized with a 3-1 loss to Inter Milan on Tuesday night in the first leg of the Champions League semifinals.
Barcelona appeared fatigued as the game went on, perhaps from a 450-mile bus trip the team was forced to take. Flights were grounded across Europe following the volcanic eruption in Iceland, and Inter may have to take a similar trip for the second leg of the total-goals series in Barcelona next 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.”
Wesley Sneijder, Maicon and Diego Milito scored for Inter, seeking to become Europe’s champion for the first time since consecutive titles in 1964 and 1965. Inter frustrated FIFA player of the year Lionel Messi, whose four goals in the second leg of the quarterfinals eliminated Arsenal.
“It isn’t a dream. It is real,” Inter coach Jose Mourinho said. “When I came here I found a team that was small in Champions League terms and a team that struggled to qualify for the elimination rounds. Now we have beaten the best team in the world.”
Pedro Rodriguez scored on a low shot in the 19th minute for Barcelona, but Sneijder tied the score off a pass from Milito in the 30th minute and Maicon put Inter ahead in the 48th on an overlapping run, again from a Milito pass.
Milito scored the final goal on a header in the 61st after Samuel Eto’o broke down a wing and crossed to Sneijder, who nodded the ball back.
AC Milan was the last repeat champion, winning when the competition was known as the Champions Cup in 1989 and 1990.
“We tried but we couldn’t find the spaces we wanted. That happens sometimes when you play against a great team like Inter,” Guardiola said. “We started to attack with a high tempo at the end of the game and gave Inter’s defense doubts, but it didn’t change how the match finished.”
Barcelona captain Carles Puyol will be suspended for the second leg because of a yellow card for a foul on Milito.
In the other semifinal, Bayern Munich hosts Lyon on Wednesday night.
Team Line-Ups :
Inter Milan: Julio Cesar, Walter Samuel, Lucio, Javier Zanetti, Maicon (Cristian Chivu 73), Esteban Cambiasso, Thiago Motta, Wesley Sneijder, Diego Milito (Mario Balotelli 75), Samuel Eto'o, Goran Pandev (Dejan Stankovic 56) .
Barcelona: Victor Valdes, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Maxwell, Dani Alves, Sergio Busquets, Seydou Keita, Xavi Hernandez and Pedro Rodriguez, Lionel Messi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Eric Abidal 62).