For the first time in thirteen years, Inter will take part in the Champions League final. The Nerazzurri battered their crosstown rivals Milan in the ultimate EuroDerby to book their place in the Istanbul finale. Their reward? A meeting against the most terrifying club on the continent: English Premier League champions Manchester City.
Although the Beneamata have never crossed paths with the Cityzens in an official encounter before, they enjoyed several successes while also enduring agonizing defeats against sides hailing from the British Isles.
So it’s time to recall five of the most memorable encounters for Inter when taking on an English Premier League foe in various European competitions.
5. Inter 4-3 Tottenham – Champions League Group Stage 2010/11
In the aftermath of the historic José Mourinho epoch, Inter were never able to replicate the performances they displayed under the guidance of the Special One, even though his successor Rafael Benitez had inherited almost the same treble-winning squad, and this encounter serves as a testament to the club’s waning powers at the time.
Club symbol Javier Zanetti scored a rare goal as early as the second minute, while Samuel Eto’o and Dejan Stankovic made it 3-0 after 15 minutes against 10-man Tottenham. At the end of the first half, the Beneamata had a staggering 4-0 lead and a numerical advantage, suggesting that the win was already in the bag.
Yet, the defending European champions almost ended up bottling it when a young Gareth Bale picked the iconic San Siro as the ideal venue to announce himself on the big stage. The Welsh winger tormented Maicon in a stupendous second-half display, single-handedly dragging the Spurs back to the match.
Eventually, Inter still picked a 4-3 win, but their English foes returned the favor in a well-deserved 3-1 victory in the reverse fixture which ultimately put them on top of the group.
4. Arsenal 0-3 Inter – Champions League Group Stage 2003/04
On the opening day of the 2003/04 Champions League group stage, Inter stunned the crowds at Highbury, subduing their hosts Arsenal with a dominant first-half display marked by three goals from Julio Cruz, Andy van der Meyde and Obafemi Martins.
Neither side managed to score in the second half, but for Inter, the damage was already done so they only needed to sail through the rest of the match to secure a memorable 3-0 victory on English shores.
Mind you, this way the much-celebrated “Invincibles” version of the Gunners, the same side that famously went on to lift the Premier League trophy while remaining unbeaten.
Admittedly, this superb display in North London could have landed slightly higher on the list, but it was tarnished by a hideous 1-5 defeat at the Giuseppe Meazza in the reverse fixture when the Nerazzurri completely lost the plot in a calamitous second half where they conceded four goals. This regrettable result eventually led to an early elimination after finishing third in the group.
Ironically, the management had replaced Hector Cuper with Alberto Zaccheroni between the two fixtures, but this maneuver surely didn’t pay dividends on the continental level.
3. Newcastle 1-4 Inter – Champions League Second Round 2002/03
Back in 2003, the Champions League used to run a second group stage in the Round of 16 rather than the knockout format adopted nowadays. That season, the Italian giants were pitted in a tough group with Barcelona, Bayer Leverkusen and Newcastle United.
The opening fixture of the round saw Inter traveling to English shores for a meeting with the Magpies at St. James Park. While Cuper’s men were expecting valiant resistance from Sir Bobby Robson’s side, they pretty much sealed the match in the first minutes.
The enigmatic Domenico Morfeo put the visitors in the lead as early as the second minute, and just moments later, Craig Bellamy fell to Marco Materazzi’s trap long before Zinedine Zidane made it iconic in the 2006 World Cup final. The temperamental Welshman reacted to the Italian defender’s provocation with a blow that the latter made the most of, earning himself an early shower.
From then on, Inter had an open path towards victory, scoring three additional goals, including a long-range scorcher courtesy of Matias Almeyda to win 4-1 on English soil.
The two sides then played out a 2-2 draw at the Meazza which was enough for the Serie A side to secure a second place behind Barcelona and progress to the quarter-final.
2. Chelsea 0-1 Inter – Champions League Round of 16 2009/10
When Chelsea and Inter locked horns at Stamford Bridge, José Mourinho’s return to West London dominated all headlines. The Special One who led the Blues to new heights came back as a conqueror at the helm of a wonderful group of players.
The Beneamata had won the first leg 2-1 at home, a result that set the stage for a razor-tight second leg.
Expectedly, Carlo Ancelotti’s men laid siege all around Julio Cesar’s penalty box, but Walter Samuel, Lucio and company held on in a great showing of valor and determination.
In the second half, cracks were beginning to show in Chelsea’s defensive lines as they desperately lunged forward in the hopes of snatching a goal, so Samuel Eto’o pounced on the opportunity to score from a deadly counter-attack, placing the final nail in the Blues’ coffin.
Although that memorable double encounter ensued in the Round of 16, knocking out that almighty Chelsea side that included the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba what a major statement from a team that was hellbent on going all the way to the final.
This campaign culminated in an unprecedented treble.
1. Inter 3-0 Liverpool – European Cup Semi-Final 1964/65
Although this one occurred almost 60 years ago, it remains the most iconic performance for Inter against an English club, at least in our book.
After losing the first leg of the Semi-Final in a 1-3 result at Anfield, the Nerazzurri had a mountain to climb when they hosted Liverpool in the second leg.
Yet, early back-to-back goals from Mario Corso and Lucas Peiro equalized the score, while the legendary Giacinto Facchetti snatched the winner in the second half to complete an astonishing come-from-behind win, even if the Reds still claim they were “cheated out” till this very day.
At the time, Inter were the reigning European champions, and they went on to successfully defend their title by beating Benfica in the grand finale that was held on their own turf at San Siro.
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