Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan sent reigning Champions League champions Barcelona to the brink of elimination following their 3-1 victory in the first leg of their semi-final at the San Siro.
It was the game billed as an early final, and if the eventual final in Madrid can live up to what this had to offer, then the 90,000 fans inside the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu will be in for a treat on May 22.
Pedro put Barcelona in front in the 19th minute, but Inter turned the game around thanks to goals from Wesley Sneijder on the half-hour mark, Maicon just three minutes into the second half and Diego Milito after an hour.
While Esteban Cambiasso was paying particularly close attention to Lionel Messi in the early exchanges, he took the threat of Maxwell a little less seriously as Barcelona went in front in the 19th minute. Maxwell was allowed to make his way unchallenged to the goal line as Cambiasso stood and watched, and the former Inter full-back pulled the ball back, just behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but right into the path of Pedro who side-footed in from 15 yards.
Moments earlier, Inter had missed their first big chance of the match when Samuel Eto'o's shot from 25 yards was only parried by Victor Valdes, but Milito, who was following in, placed his shot across the face of goal
Milito got a little closer to the target in the 27th minute when he was again played clean through to the left of goal only to again place his shot wide of the far post, but Sneijder showed him how to finish just three minutes later as Inter levelled.
Milito appeared to steal Eto'o's cross off the toes of Goran Pandev, but the San Siro's groans at what looked like a missed opportunity soon turned to cheers as Milito picked out Sneijder to his left and the Dutchman provided the accomplished finish, placing his shot low past Valdes.
The second half started with a bang as Inter went in front in the 48th minute. Milito was again left in far too much space by the Barcelona defence and, with Eto'o appearing to obstruct Carles Puyol as he tried to recover ground, the Argentinian forward was allowed time to pick out Maicon at the near post and he beat Valdes from close range.
Barca continued to leave gaping holes in their defence and Thiago Motta exploited one with his pass to Eto'o, whose cross was met by Sneijder with a poor header, but one which unintentionally picked out Milito in a possibly offside position to nod in Inter's third after an hour.
The Blaugrana launched a late assault on the Inter goal and Gerard Pique was sent up as an additional attacker, but they were unable to find a second away goal, leaving Inter in command of the tie ahead of the trip to the Nou Camp next week.
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