Goran Pandev struck two minutes from time to give Inter Milan a dramatic win at Bayern Munich and propel the Champions League holders through to the quarter-finals on away goals.
Bayern’s 1-0 first-leg advantage lasted just four minutes as Samuel Eto’o tucked away his eighth goal of the competition. By 31 minutes Mario Gomez and Thomas Müller had struck to turn the game on its head, giving Louis van Gaal’s men a handy lead, but there was a nasty sting in the tail for a side beaten by the Nerazzurri in last May’s showpiece.
Wesley Sneijder’s 63rd-minute equaliser set the platform for Pandev, who fired high into the net as Inter became only the second club in Champions League history, and the first in 15 years, to overturn a first-leg deficit away from home.
Bayern had failed to win either of their two previous home games against Inter and that record looked set to continue as Eto’o quickly evened up the tie. The prolific Cameroonian latched onto Pandev’s perfectly-judged pass, and his confidence was evident as he deftly slipped the ball beyond Thomas Kraft. Bayern’s first-leg match-winner Gomez has matched Eto’o goal for goal in the competition, and the German international registered his eighth of the campaign soon after.
The Bundesliga’s record signing had proved sharpest in Milan when Júlio César once again gifted Bayern a goal, as he spilled a powerful Arjen Robben drive. The goal was a near-copy of that one in Milan, that had tipped the tie back Bayern’s way. This time Cesar allowed a Robben shot to squirm from his grasp, and Gomez brilliantly hooked the loose ball back over his shoulder and into the empty net.
Robben was a terrific tonight, popping up everywhere, and eight minutes later he appeared on the left and darted incisively in from the flank. His through ball, intended for Gomez, deflected off Thiago Motta into the path of Müller, whose delightful finish found the bottom corner. Ribéry then brought a fine save from Júlio César before the Brazilian was beaten again.
This time Andrea Ranocchia came to his rescue, scrambling away via a post as he and Müller lunged to reach a ball that Gomez had turned tantalisingly across goal. Bayern largely contented themselves with trying to contain the visitors after the break, though a ferocious Gomez volley would have surely put the tie beyond Inter but for Júlio César’s acrobatic intervention.
The hosts’ cushion was uncomfortably reduced, though, when Sneijder drilled a low shot past Kraft to level on the night. Pandev then wasted a good opportunity only to make amends in the closing stages, the Macedonian international produced an unerring finish from Eto’o’s lay-off to keep Inter’s title defence alive.
Overall a massive morale boosting win for Inter. To go to Munich and score three goals shows the change in this side from a year ago. Under Leonardo, Inter are much more adventuresome going forward than under Mourinho. The Achilles heel of Inter though is it defence, that will have to get much tighter if Inter are to progress past the quarter-finals.