Champions League - Late Gomez strike sinks Inter
Wed, 23 Feb 21:47:00 2011
Mario Gomez struck in the final minute to give Bayern Munich a vital 1-0 win in their Champions League last-16 first leg tie against Internazionale at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.
The game appeared set to end in a goalless stalemate before Julio Cesar spilled Arjen Robben's speculative drive, allowing Gomez to tap home a crucial away goal.
Bayern had rattled the woodwork once in each half, with Franck Ribery heading onto the bar before Robben's angled shot hit the post after the interval.
But despite failing to leave second gear for the majority of their home leg, Inter could easily have led on several occasions but for a pair of missed sitters from Andrea Ranocchia and Esteban Cambiasso.
The lively Samuel Eto'o felt he should have been awarded a penalty after he was felled by Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, and young German keeper Thomas Kraft was tested on several occasions, but the German side will begin the second leg at the Allianz Arena firmly in the driver's seat.
The deadlock could have been broken as early as the first minute. After Holger Badstuber had fouled Eto'o, Wesley Sneijder found new signing Ranocchia unmarked in the box only for the defender to miss the target.
Leonardo's men were furious when they were not awarded a penalty despite Tymoshchuk appearing to bring down Eto'o, and captain Javier Zanetti was booked for his protests.
Some fine attacking play by Inter gave Cambiasso the chance from close range just after 20 minutes, but Kraft made himself big to deny the Argentine and the rest of the half was almost all Bayern.
Just two minutes later, Ribery rattled the crossbar with a good header from Robben's fine cross which left Julio Cesar helpless to watch.
The home side were able to test Kraft once more on the counter after Eto'o danced his way around red shirts to force a parry with a wicked left footed effort.
But Ribery and Robben were causing major headaches for the Inter defence with Julio Cesar's box full of headed clearances and lunging blocks.
The second half was an opportunity for both sides to step up their search for what could be a winning goal, but instead petered off into a stop-start period of fouls and frustration.
The dullness of most of the second period was interrupted by more fine work by Ribery, who had cut inside with the ball on 53 minutes, and Robben, who received the Frenchman's pass and fired against Julio Cesar's near post.
Minutes shy of the hour mark, Eto'o once again found room to shoot at Kraft whose parry fell to the feet of Cambiasso.
However, the midfielder inexplicably fired over from close range with nobody but a grounded Kraft in his way.
Kraft kept the Bavarians in it as the full-time whistle grew closer, saving well from both Lucio and the rampant Eto'o, before the Cameroonian saw another effort pinball through a crowded box and fizz just past the far post.
And in the final minute of the game, a Bayern side whose efforts had mostly come from outside the box and straight into the waiting arms of Julio Cesar couldn't believe their luck.
Robben's final speculative drive squirmed from the Brazillian keeper's grasp and fell to Gomez to tap home the winner at the death.
It was the cruel blow for Leonardo's side, but one that could have been avoided if they had taken their earlier chances.
Bayern will defend their one-goal lead in the tie on their home turf, with the second leg scheduled for March 15 at the Allianz Arena.