|Inter avoided a penalty for this tackle on Kalou at the end of the first half [AFP]
Jose Mourinho got one over his former club as Inter Milan beat Chelsea 2-1 in the Champions League last 16, first leg clash at the San Siro.
Inter striker Diego Milito scored after just three minutes when he easily turned John Terry and fired in at the near post from six metres, prompting little reaction from Mourinho who had promised not to celebrate.
The Londoners dominated a thrilling game for long spells and Salomon Kalou deservedly equalised on 51 minutes with a 20-metre shot before Esteban Cambiasso soon put the hosts back ahead after his first shot was blocked.
In the night's other game CSKA Moscow came from behind to draw 1-1 with Spanish side Sevilla, leaving the return leg in two weeks time delicately poised.
Visiting keeper Petr Cech was carried off on a stretcher in the second half with a suspected knee injury but Carlo Ancelotti, who spent eight years at the San Siro as AC Milan coach, will be confident of turning the tie around in the second leg on March 16.
"I think on the balance of play, possession, the shots we had, we were the stronger team," Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard told Britain’s ITV.
"We knew they like to soak up pressure and they got the early goal which made it easier for them but we've got an away goal and with a performance like that in London we've got a great chance."
Just like rivals AC Milan in their defeat by Manchester United on the same pitch last week, Serie A champions Inter got off to a good start.
Thiago Motta threaded the ball forward and Samuel Eto'o miscontrolled it before strike partner Milito confirmed his excellent form this season by cutting in from the left and beating Cech at the near post.
Chelsea's heads failed to drop despite the vast roar from the Inter crowd and they were soon troubling keeper Julio Cesar, playing despite being shaken in a car crash early this week.
A Michael Ballack piledriver forced the Brazilian into his best save and Didier Drogba rattled the bar with a vicious free kick.
Kalou, included on the left with Florent Malouda employed at left back, then had a strong shout for a penalty turned down on the stroke of half-time after a challenge by Walter Samuel five metres out.
The Ivorian had his reward after 51 minutes when Julio Cesar failed to stop his curling shot through a crowd of players.
Argentine Cambiasso then grabbed the winner, blasting in at the second attempt from the edge of the box.
Mourinho did not gloat over taking a slender advantage to London in three weeks time.
"Of course I am happy inside," said the Portuguese.
"Because as a professional I want to win and as a professional I want to win more trophies than anyone else.
"There were no surprises from us tonight and Chelsea didn't have any either.
"We are evenly matched sides. Chelsea are not better than us, they have different qualities just as we do."
Chilean winger Mark Gonzalez scored a 30-metre equaliser for CSKA Moscow to draw 1-1 with Sevilla on the synthetic turf of Luzhniki Stadium.
Alvaro Negredo collected an away goal for Sevilla in the 25th minute, tapping into an empty net after a fast counterattack and cross from Jesus Navas.
Gonzalez levelled in the 66th minute with a left-footed strike that flew into the top corner.
The Russian team were otherwise unable to capitalise on incisive build-up play and will have to score in Spain on March 16 in the second leg to have any chance of progressing to the quarterfinals, a stage neither side have reached before.
"It would have been better to win but this can be considered a good result,'' said Sevilla coach Manolo Jimenez, whose late introduction of injured substitute Frederic Kanoute showed the visitors did not want to settle for the draw.