|Inter became the first Italian club to claim the league, cup and European Cup in one season [EPA]|
Inter Milan reached the summit of European football for the first time in 45 years when Diego Milito scored two superb goals to give them a 2-0 win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League final.
The 30-year-old Argentine struck after 35 and 70 minutes to seal a deserved victory for Inter at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid and complete an unprecedented treble for a Serie A club following their Italian league and Cup double.
It was also a personal triumph for Inter’s Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho who became only the third man to win the European Cup with two clubs.
Milito, who had spent much of his career as a journeyman striker, has reached the heights this season with 22 goals in his first Serie A campaign for Inter.
He scored the goal that clinched the Italian title last weekend, got the winner in the Italian Cup final and sent the Inter fans wild in Madrid with a clinically-taken opening goal that set them on their way to their latest triumph.
He nodded goalkeeper Julio Cesar’s long punt down to Wesley Sneijder, ran on to the Dutchman’s pinpoint through ball and then shimmied to make space for himself before lifting a shot high into the net over goalkeeper Hans Jorg-Butt.
His second goal was also superbly taken leaving Bayern defender Daniel Van Buyten bamboozled and beaten before Milito fired past Butt into the far corner of the net.
“It’s a joy I’ve never experienced. Incredible. I am so happy for Inter because we wanted this so badly. We are so happy and it’s a unique sensation,” Milito said.
Before his decisive second goal, Bayern twice came close to an equaliser through striker Thomas Muller and pacy Dutch winger Arjen Robben.
Inter also went close to more goals, especially from Sneijder just before half time, but they were denied by some excellent goalkeeping from Butt.
With one end of the stadium decked out in the red of Bayern and the other filled with blue-and-black clad Inter fans, both teams made a cautious start on a balmy Madrid evening.
The build-up was dominated by the coaching duel between Bayern’s Louis Van Gaal and his one time Barcelona assistant Mourinho but almost from the kick-off it was clear both coaches had given the same instructions to their team – go for goals.
Inter’s attempts obviously proved more fruitful but even before Milito put them ahead, their attack looked sharper and they always looked the more likely to gain the early advantage.
Samuel Eto’o and Milito were a constant threat to the Bayern defence, while Bayern’s front men Ivica Olic and Thomas Mueller ultimately made little impression even though Robben toiled hard on the right wing and provided them with several opportunities.
Fears the game might turn into a sterile, defensive affair were unfounded and Inter, who won the European Cup in 1964 and 1965, claimed a long overdue third crown with a performance of passion, skill and rugged flair.
“Inter were the better team over 90 minutes and deserved to win,” Bayern president Franz Beckenbauer told German TV.
Their dislay was typified by excellent skipper Javier Zanetti who will never forget his 700th match for the club.
The marvellous Mourinho will never forget what might be his last match in charge of Inter either.
Linked with a move to Real Madrid – whose ground this is – he followed Ernst Happel and Ottmar Hitzfeld as the only man to win the European Cup with two different sides following his success with Porto in 2004.