Trebleshooter Inter rule
Inter Milan's 2-0 win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League final will be remembered more for Diego Milito's two brilliant goals and the sub-plots surrounding the game rather than the football.sports Updated: May 23, 2010 22:53 IST
Inter Milan's 2-0 win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League final will be remembered more for Diego Milito's two brilliant goals and the sub-plots surrounding the game rather than the football.
Staged in Real Madrid's awe inspiring Santiago Bernabeu stadium, UEFA president Michel Platini's idea of switching the final from a Wednesday to a Saturday night lent even more drama to the event than usual. The noisy, rollicking input from both sets of fans created an unforgettable atmosphere.
A moment of shared respect summed up the bonhomie of the occasion and it came when Milito, waving at the crowd in celebration, suddenly realised he was waving at the Bayern fans. Instead of booing him the German supporters warmly applauded him back.
Inter defender Lucio, who used to play for Bayern, spent much of the celebrations talking to his former teammates after crying tears of joy.
Inter coach Jose Mourinho hugged Bayern winger Arjen Robben — they were together for three years at Chelsea — during a short break of play in the first half.
Mourinho and Bayern manager Louis Van Gaal, whose friendship goes back to their days together at Barcelona, even hugged before the end of the game with Inter's victory all but assured.
While never a classic, the contest was enthralling. Mourinho said his men "followed my instructions perfectly" and eventually finished as convincing winners.
The bare facts show that Inter have become European champions for the third time, after a wait of 45 years since their second title in 1965, and Mourinho became only the third man to become European champion with two different clubs following his success with Porto in 2004.
Inter have also become the first Italian side to win the treble after winning the Serie A and Cup double earlier this month, and Milito himself has reached heights he could barely have imagined when he joined Inter at the start of the season.
The two goals he scored to beat Bayern capped an astonishing run of personal success after scoring the only goal against Roma when Inter won the Italian Cup on May 5, and the only goal last Sunday against Siena when they clinched the Serie A title.
The Argentine now heads to South Africa for his first World Cup, while Mourinho looks set to leave Milan. Conspicuous by his absence from Inter's welcoming party in Milan, he seems certain to take a permanent place in the Bernabeu dug-out as Real's new manager.
Milito could follow him to Spain as perhaps could his inspirational Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder. While Mourinho won his personal duel with Van Gaal, Sneijder had more impact than Robben, who worked tirelessly down Bayern's right but could not find a goal.
No regrets for Van Gaal in defeat
Bayern Munich coach Louis van Gaal had no regrets about his attacking strategy after losing to Inter.
"You mustn't forget that we chose a very difficult playing style," Dutchman Van Gaal told a press conference after the match.
"I think that it's the most attractive for the public," he added.
"But you can lose and we have to be on very good form to beat a team like Inter." Asked if he would do anything differently if he could play the final again, Van Gaal replied: "No."
First Published: May 23, 2010 22:43 IST