MILAN - For Nerazzurri fans the words 'Inter' and 'Bayern', pronounced together, conjure up memories of a special night - one of triumph, of joy, of tears; a night Inter fans had awaited for many years and will remember for many more. That was the treble-winning side, the European champions, the one and only. But that's all history. Now the Nerazzurri once again need to show they can produce the goods when it really matters. Today, but only for today, the joy is Bayern Munich's, after the German side won the first leg of the 2010/11 Champions League round-of-16 clash by a single goal. In the 89th minute Gomez ruined what had been a bright game after Inter had gone very close on several occasions. All is not lost yet, though. The tie continues on 15 March at the Allianza Arena.
FIRST HALF - On his Champions League debut in the Inter dugout, Leonardo fielded a 4-3-2-1 formation with Stankovic and Sneijder in support of Eto'o. The game was just a minute old when the Nerazzurri were given a freekick for a foul on Eto'o; Sneijder picked out Ranocchia in the box and the defender hooked a right-footed volley just wide of Kraft's left-hand upright. Bayern were in the game as well and the Inter defence had to be on their toes in the 12th minute: first Lucio blocked Ribery's shot, then Ranocchia defended well to keep out Mueller. In the 18th minute Maicon hit a great cross towards Stankovic but Kraft came out to scoop the ball away from the Serbian's head, while back down the other end, on 20 minutes, Gustavo struck a vicious long-range shot inches wide. Inter then had a decent penalty shout as Tymoshchuk appeared to bring down Eto'o in the box, but the referee saw nothing wrong. The Cameroonian wasn't to be discouraged, though, and he looked dangerous every time he got the ball. After 23 minutes he did extremely well to set up Cambiasso in front of goal, but the Argentinian's shot from a wide angle was blocked by the keeper. A minute later Robben crossed for Ribery, whose header struck the bar. Gomez had another good chance to give the Germans the lead on 29 minutes when he connected with Lahm's low cross, but he skied his effort. Inter went close themselves in the 33rd minute, with Eto'o again involved: Lucio's first-time cross was picked up in the centre by Inter's top scorer, who managed to find space for himself despite the attentions of two defenders and get a low shot in; Kraft showed quick reflexes to get down and push clear. On 37 minutes Maicon sent Eto'o away towards goal, but Badstuber was back to block with a sliding challenge. With a minute of first-half stoppage time already signalled, Maicon burst through the Bayern back line and smashed a rising angled drive just wide. The sides went into the break after a goalless first 45 minutes.
SECOND HALF - No changes were made during the break and Bayern were soon looking dangerous again, as Robben's curled cross was flicked just wide by Mueller. Seven minutes into the half Ribery began a splendid move for the Bavarian side, which ended with Robben's diagonal run and shot against the outside of the post. In the 57th minute Inter had perhaps their best chance to take the lead: Maicon's cross was chested and neatly controlled by Eto'o, who unleashed a half-volley at Kraft; the rebound fell to Cambiasso but he could only direct his effort over the bar. That prompted an immediate response from Bayern as Robben went on another jinking run before rifling over the bar. Ranocchia was forced to leave the pitch on a stretcher after 73 minutes, having gone to the ground with a knee problem. He was replaced by Kharja and the Moroccan almost made an instant impact: his angled shot was kept out by Kraft and the ball rolled across the goal but there was no black-and-blue shirt on hand to poke home. Lahm made a risky sliding tackle on Eto'o in the 82nd minute, though it was deemed fair by the Hungarian referee and only a corner was awarded. From another corner, with 5 minutes of normal time remaining, Sneijder found Thiago Motta, whose powerful header was kept out by Kraft on the line. The Nerazzurri went close again in the 88th minute when Eto'o fired goalwards through a crowd, the ball taking a deflection and going just wide. As Inter seemed be turning the screw and about to score, Bayern grabbed a winner: Robben's bouncing left-footed drive was saved by Julio Cesar but Gomez swooped on the rebound to stab home from a few yards out. It felt like an ice-cold shower for Inter, who had matched the Germans blow for blow and gone mightily close thorugh Eto'o and Cambiasso. After two minutes of added time, Kassai called a quick end to a painful finale.
Inter 0-1 Bayern Munich
Scorer: 90 Gomez
Inter: 1 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 6 Lucio, 15 Ranocchia (14 Kharja, 74), 26 Chivu; 4 Zanetti, 8 Thiago Motta, 19 Cambiasso; 5 Stankovic, 10 Sneijder; 9 Eto'o.
Subs: 12 Castellazzi, 17 Mariga, 23 Materazzi, 27 Pandev, 55 Nagatomo, 29 Coutinho,
Bayern Monaco: 35 Kraft; 21 Lahm, 44 Tymoshchuk, 28 Badstuber, 23 Pranjic (2 Breno, 38); 30 Gustavo, 31 Schweinsteiger; 10 Robben, 25 Mueller, 7 Ribery; 33 Gomez.
Subs: 1 Butt, 5 Van Buyten,16 Ottl, 8 Altintop, 39 Kroos, 18 Klose.
Coach: Luis Van Gaal.
Referee: Viktor Kassai (Hungary)
Booked: 21 Zanetti, 34 Ribery, 56 Sneijder, 88 Thiago Motta, 88 Gustavo.
Added time: 1+2 minutes.