MILAN - Inter produced a devastating second-half display as José Mourinho's men take the edge in their Champions League quarter-final tie with CSKA Moscow.
Diego Milito capped a period of furious attacking momentum to score the solitary goal that had the Russians stunned and puts the Nerazzurri in command ahead of next Tuesday's return leg in Moscow.
It could have been a bigger win but for the performance of CSKA goalkeeper Akinfeev, who made a string of important saves to limit the damage.
Mourinho made two forced changes to his last sixteen second leg lineup. Materazzi stepped in for the suspended Lucio to play his 400th Italian club match, with Stankovic coming in for Thiago Motta - also ruled out after his booking at Stamford Bridge.
The Portuguese tactician named the same attack that beat Chelsea in London, with Pandev, Sneijder and Eto'o behind Milito.
All three support strikers had chances in an end-to-end first half. Eto'o forced a save from Akinfeev with a low diagonal drive in the early stages, Pandev sent an exquisite long-range shot just over, and Sneijder misfired in front of goal after a swift move involving the Macedonian and Milito.
Eto'o had another chance in injury time. Cambiasso delivered a left-wing cross into the six-yard box and the Cameroon forward rose above his marker, only to see his header go high over the crossbar.
CSKA were first to threaten after the restart when Julio Cesar brilliantly saved Mamaev's thunderous long-range shot, but Inter soon raised the tempo as Stankovic and Cambiasso laid on impeccable service for the front men.
Akinfeev pulled off a tremendous one-handed parry from Pandev's placed shot, repeating the heroics moments later to keep out Eto'o's low strike destined for the bottom corner.
It was third time lucky for the Nerazzurri when Milito controlled Sneijder's pass and buried his low 20-yard shot into the bottom right corner.
Aleksei Berezutski emulated his keeper to clear Pandev's angled shot off the line, and Sneijder drove wide with the goal gaping after being put through by Eto'o.
There were more miracles from Akinfeev when he neutralised two follow-up shots in quick succession from Cambiasso and Stankovic.
With key players Krasic and Aldonin automatically ruled out of the return leg at the Luzhniki Stadium, Inter's chances of a Champions League semi-final are looking good.
Inter 1-0 CSKA Moscow (HT: 0-0)
Scorer: Milito 65.
Inter: 12 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 23 Materazzi, 25 Samuel, 4 Zanetti; 5 Stankovic, 19 Cambiasso; 27 Pandev (17 Mariga 90+3), 10 Sneijder, 9 Eto'o; 22 Milito.
Subs not used: 1 Toldo, 2 Cordoba, 7 Quaresma, 11 Muntari, 26 Chivu; 89 Arnautovic.
Coach: José Mourinho.
CSKA Moscow: 35 Akinfeev; 6 A.Berezutski, 24 V.Berezutski, 4 Ignashevich, 42 Schennikov; 2 Semberas, 22 Aldonin (25 Rahimic 75); 17 Krasic, 18 Honda (10 Dzagoev 69), 11 Mamaev (13 Gonzalez 73); 89 Necid.
Subs not used: 1 Chepchugov, 14 Nababkin, 15 Odiah, 20 Guilherme.
Coach: Leonid Slutsky.
Referee: Howard Webb (England).
Booked: Materazzi 12, Krasic 32, Aldonin 37.