Pandev: "We really deserved to win this trophy"

MADRID – Goran Pandev reflected on his hugely successful first six months at Inter in an interview with Rai Sport after Saturday night’s Champions League final triumph at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"I arrived here in January and it has been a marvellous season for me," said the Macedonian forward. "I have settled in very well and I thank everyone.

"We played a great match tonight and we deserved to win this Champions League after knocking out Barcelona and Chelsea.

"Let’s enjoy this trophy now and let’s hope that Mourinho stays so we can win it again."


Champions League final: Bayern Munich 0-2 Inter

MADRID – And there’s number three! Diego Milito’s double ended a 45-year wait for Inter as the Nerazzurri defeated Bayern Munich 2-0 at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu to win the Champions League and complete an unprecedented treble.

The undisputed star of the show, Milito struck ten minutes before half time and scored his second 25 minutes after the restart to add to his goals which won us the Coppa Italia against Roma and the Scudetto in Siena.

Bayern, whose main tactic was to sweep the ball wide to Arjen Robben on the right wing, had more possession and shots on goal but Inter were more dangerous coming forward and Wesley Sneijder was unlucky not to score when his free kick took a deflection off Altintop, forcing Butt into a difficult save.

Sneijder set up Inter’s opener on 35 minutes, threading through to Milito who took one touch and did a feint before firing past Butt. The Dutchman should have gone from provider to scorer just before the break but he shot straight at the Bayern goalkeeper after receiving in the area from Milito.

Julio Cesar made sure it wasn’t Bayern’s night when he pulled off a brilliant save from Müller right after the restart.

Inter came close moments later when Pandev’s shot from Milito’s cross was tipped over by Butt, and Julio Cesar did the same from Robben’s curling shot as Bayern continued to churn out chances, prompting Mourinho to bring on Stankovic to protect his midfield and switch Zanetti to left-back.

The Nerazzurri soaked up the Bayern pressure and put the trophy beyond the Germans’ reach with twenty minutes remaining when Milito ran on to Eto’o’s through ball and elegantly turned Van Buyten before burying his shot into the far corner.

Mourinho granted Milito a standing ovation in additional time, bringing on Marco Materazzi in place of the Argentine. After the final whistle, a visibly emotional Mourinho embraced Javier Zanetti – who made a landmark 700th appearance for the club in tonight’s final – before going on a lap of honour with his son José junior. He then joined Massimo Moratti and his players on stage to receive the big-eared trophy – the perfect end to a season that will long be remembered.

Bayern Munich 0-2 Inter (HT: 0-1)

Scorer: Milito 35, 70.

Bayern Munich: 22 Butt; 21 Lahm, 5 Van Buyten, 6 Demichelis, 28 Badstuber; 17 Van Bommel, 31 Schweinsteiger; 10 Robben, 25 Müller, 8 Altintop (18 Klose 63); 11 Olic (33 Gomez 74).
Subs not used
: 1 Rensing, 13 Görlitz, 23 Pranjic, 26 Contento, 44 Tymoshchuk.

: Louis Van Gaal.

Inter: 12 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 6 Lucio, 25 Samuel, 26 Chivu (5 Stankovic 68); 4 Zanetti, 19 Cambiasso; 27 Pandev (11 Muntari 79), 10 Sneijder, 9 Eto’o; 22 Milito (23 Materazzi 90+2).
Subs not used: 1 Toldo, 2 Cordoba, 17 Mariga, 45 Balotelli.

: José Mourinho.

Referee: Howard Webb (England).

Booked: Demichelis 25, Chivu 30, van Bommel 78.

Att: 78,000.


UCL final: Bayern Munich v Inter lineups

MADRID – Starting XIs for tonight’s 2009/10 UEFA Champions League final at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid (kick-off 20:45):

Bayern Munich: 22 Butt; 21 Lahm, 5 Van Buyten, 6 Demichelis, 28 Badstuber; 17 Van Bommel, 31 Schweinsteiger; 10 Robben, 25 Müller, 8 Altintop; 11 Olic.
: 1 Rensing, 13 Görlitz, 18 Klose, 23 Pranjic, 26 Contento, 33 Gomez, 44 Tymoshchuk.
: Louis Van Gaal.

Inter: 12 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 6 Lucio, 25 Samuel, 26 Chivu; 4 Zanetti, 19 Cambiasso; 27 Pandev, 10 Sneijder, 9 Eto’o; 22 Milito.
: 1 Toldo, 2 Cordoba, 5 Stankovic, 11 Muntari, 17 Mariga, 23 Materazzi, 45 Balotelli.
: José Mourinho.

Referee: Howard Webb (England).


Cambiasso: "A dream come true"

MADRID – Esteban Cambiasso can’t wait to step on to the pitch in the Bernabeu tomorrow night for a match he has been waiting years to play.

"It’s one of the most important matches; I have dreamed of it all my life and now I’m 24 hours away from playing it," said the Inter midfielder in the pre-Champions League final press conference. "And it’s nice to be playing in a city that I consider a bit mine."

The Argentine says Inter have made tremendous progress since their first match of the campaign against Lazio in Beijing. "The Super Cup wasn’t the ideal stage of the season to play," he said. "We have been together for a year since then and Inter have improved so much since that defeat to Lazio. Their keeper had a spectacular game that day.

"I can’t say I was expecting us to reach this Champions League final, but nobody from any club can say this at the beginning of the season. But we’re here now."

After knocking out the likes of Chelsea and Barcelona en route to the final, Inter are seen by many as favourites to win. "The final always starts 50-50," said Cambiasso. "This percentage can change during the match, with goals, red cards and so on. Both teams are in form. Both teams have won everything on the domestic front. Bayern didn’t have a great start to the season but they have improved during the course of the campaign."


Sneijder: "Bayern more than just Robben"

MADRID – For Wesley Sneijder, his Dutch national team companion Arjen Robben is not the only Bayern Munich player to keep a special watch on in tomorrow night’s Champions League showpiece at the Bernabeu.

"We will both be here again in this stadium and it will be nice, but we won’t be friends during the match," said Sneijder of his former Real Madrid team-mate. "He’s a very important player for Bayern but he’s not the only one. We can’t focus on him only."

Sneijder was asked if his team-mates have done any special work in training to stop referees having an influence on games, and if having an English referee for the final is an advantage.

"I don’t think the impact of the referee was that important in the semi-final," he replied. "You can talk about the referee after the match but we won against Barcelona in our stadium. There was no advantage for either team and it will be the same again tomorrow. I’m expecting a great final. A great party. It’s a game between two strong teams. We will see who wins."