Inter make first Champions League final since 1972
Inter Milan battled for more than an hour with 10 men to book their place in next month's Champions League final at the expense of holders Barcelona on a triumphant night for the Italian side's coach Jose Mourinho.
The Spanish holders won the semi-final second leg 1-0 but Inter went through 3-2 on aggregate after a pulsating encounter at Barca's Nou Camp stadium to reach their first final of Europe's elite club competition since 1972.
They will play Bayern Munich in the final at Real Madrid's Bernabeu stadium on May 22.
Mourinho, a former assistant coach at Barca, raced onto the pitch at the final whistle, his wild eyes fixed on the small section of triumphant Inter fans as he pointed a celebratory finger to the sky.
He clashed with Barca goalkeeper Victor Valdes as a hail of objects rained down from the stands before he returned to the embrace of his ecstatic players.
Image: Inter Milan's coach Jose Mourinho (right) celebrates with his players after qualifying for the Champions League final
Inter reduced to ten-men after Motta gets marching orders
After losing last week's semi-final first leg in Milan 3-1, Barca coach Pep Guardiola fielded an ultra-attacking formation and with the home fans roaring their support the visitors' defence came under immediate pressure.
For all their early possession Barca were struggling to create chances and a Pedro volley in the 22nd minute that flashed narrowly wide was their first real effort on goal.
Tempers boiled over five minutes later when Inter midfielder Thiago Motta flung out an arm in a challenge with Sergio Busquets which sent the Barca player tumbling to the turf clutching his face.
Former Barca player Motta, who had already been booked, was sent off, sparking a melee in which he grabbed Busquets by the back of the neck before being led away.
Image: Inter Milan's Thiago Motta (centre) gets into a scuffle with Barcelona's Sergio Busquets after receiving a red card
Pique goal raises Braca hopes
The dismissal was the cue for a magnificent rearguard action from Inter who dealt with almost everything the fearsome Barca attack could throw at them.
Champions League top scorer Lionel Messi curled a shot that Julio Cesar acrobatically tipped around the post before a thunderous Zlatan Ibrahimovic free-kick flashed just wide.
As the clock ticked down in the second half, substitute Bojan Krkic missed a sitter of a header but a minute later centre back Gerard Pique, moved by coach Guardiola to a last-ditch striking role, made amends with a superbly taken goal in the 84th minute that gave Barca hope.
The Spain international controlled the ball in the penalty and showed a striker's touch to spin away from Cesar and the Inter defenders and slot into an empty net.
Image: Barcelona's Pique (left) celebrates after scoring with team-mate Xavi
'We had the tactics to destroy Barca'
With the noise levels rising ever higher, Barca pressed for the goal that would send them through and had an effort from Krkic at the death disallowed when Yaya Toure was adjudged to have handled the ball in the build-up.
"We defended very well, very compact, and we fought on every metre," Inter midfielder Wesley Sneijder, who moved to Inter from Real Madrid before the start of this season, said in a television interview.
"We gave everything, that's what we said to each other before the game, and we did it and now we go to Madrid."You always have a tactic to destroy the opponent. We did it in Milan and tonight as well."
Image: Inter Milan's Cristian Chivu and Wesley Sneijder (left) celebrate as Barcelona's Bojan Krkic wears is dejected at the end of their semi-final
'It's the sweetest 1-0 defeat of my life'
Jose Mourinho is by his own admission a bad loser but after Wednesday's reverse at Barcelona put Inter Milan in the Champions League final he described it as "the sweetest 1-0 defeat of my life".
"It''s an incredible joy, I've won the Champions League (with Porto in 2004) but I must say today was better than winning the Champions League," Mourinho told Rai TV.
"It was incredibly tense today, against a team such as Barcelona, with 10 men, it was something historical, mythical," a strangely subdued Mourinho said.
"It was the sweetest 1-0 defeat of my life but the players out there didn't deserve to lose. We were perfect tactically and defensively.
"We showed great discipline," he added. "We worked very hard to deny them space."
Image: Jose Mourinho celebrates after qualifying for the final
'Barca are bad losers'
Mourinho wound up the home fans before the first whistle, casually strolling out into the centre of the pitch, hands in pockets, looking every inch a man enjoying an amble in the countryside before the teams came out to warm up.
The cacophony of whistles appeared to egg him on, his histrionics on the touchline constantly catching the attention of the cameras.
Near the end Mourinho was pointing and gesticulating at the Barca bench, having a heated exchange of opinion.
At the final whistle he sprinted not towards his players but across to where the Inter fans were massed in the top tiers of the stand on the far side of the pitch, waving his arms.
Mourinho ended up having a tussle with Barca goalkeeper Victor Valdes, with security guards parting the pair.
"I think a team who win everything don't know how to lose. They are bad losers and so am I," Mourinho said.
"Valdes thought I was provoking the home fans. I was going to celebrate with my fans. It's my right."
Image: Jose Mourinho (left) gets into a tussle with Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes as he celebrates after qualifying for the Champions League final
'We were missing continuity in our game'
Barcelona's coach Guardiola had started with only three regular defenders and although his players had a whopping 76 percent of the possession, with Xavi and Sergio Busquets dominating the midfield, they managed only four shots on target.
Guardiola said Inter midfielder Thiago Motta's 28th-minute red card had disrupted the flow of the play and helped throw the holders off their stride.
"The sending off shaped the game because they just sat back and attacking is always much harder than defending," the 39-year-old former Barca player said.
"We were missing some continuity in our game," he added. "We had a lot of possession but didn't manage to create many chances and there was little space between the defence and the middle of the pitch.
"When there are nine players defending in the area it's not easy. We tried but they defended very well and that's it."
Image: Barcelona coach Guardiola reacts during the match against Inter Milan