Inter Milan Reaches Champions League Final After Holding Off Barcelona

Inter Milan, playing most of the game with 10 men, advanced to the final of soccer’s Champions League and eliminated defending champion Barcelona.

Inter lost 1-0 tonight at the Nou Camp Stadium in Barcelona to progress 3-2 over the two-game semifinal series. The Italian team will face Bayern Munich in the final of Europe’s top club competition May 22 in Madrid.

Inter, which had one shot at goal compared with 15 for Barcelona, hung on to reach its first European final since 1972 after Thiago Motta was shown a red card in the 28th minute.

“We defended very well with 10 men for so long,” Inter’s Wesley Sneijder said in a televised interview. “We gave everything. We did it and we go to Madrid.”

Gerard Pique scored for Barcelona, while Bojan Krkic had a goal disallowed in second-half injury time because of a handball against Yaya Toure.

Inter last won the European title in 1965. Barcelona was attempting to become the first team to defend its crown since AC Milan in 1990.

Barcelona forward Pedro Rodriguez sent a shot wide after three minutes. Xavi Hernandez was then unable to get away a shot after taking a pass from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Pedro sent another effort wide.

Inter was reduced to 10 men as Motta, already on a yellow card, was shown a straight red by referee Frank de Bleeckere after putting his hand into the face of Sergio Busquets as they went for the ball.

Fingertip Save

Inter goalkeeper Julio Cesar dived to get a fingertip to Lionel Messi’s curling shot and defender Walter Samuel threw himself in front of Ibrahimovic’s attempt as Barcelona pressed forward. Ibrahimovic then sent a long free kick wide just before halftime.

While Barcelona continued to control possession after the break, it could only manage long-range shots from Dani Alves, Maxwell, Toure and Pedro, all of which went wide. The pressure continued and Inter’s defense broke down attacks once the ball reached the area.

Barcelona’s Jeffren sent a pass from the left side that went across the front of the goal before being cleared away by Samuel Eto’o. An unmarked Bojan then put a header wide from about four yards out.

Barcelona finally broke through in the 84th minute as defender Pique took a pass from Xavi, spun in the area and fired a shot into the net. Julio Cesar then stopped a long shot from Xavi and easily caught an attempt from Messi.

Bojan thought he scored the goal that would have sent Barcelona to the final on the away-goals rule in injury time, before the referee called the handball against Toure.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at bbensch@bloomberg.net.

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