Mario Gomez struck in injury time as Bayern Munich took a huge step towards avenging their defeat by Inter Milan in the 2010 Champions League final.
The Bundesliga top scorer pounced on an error by Inter keeper Julio Cesar to tap home a priceless away goal in the first leg of the sides’ last-16 clash.
Bayern played the better football throughout with Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben hitting the woodwork.
Samuel Eto’o was repeatedly denied by keeper Thomas Kraft in an open match.
Yet the game looked to be heading for a stalemate until the 90th minute when Cesar failed to hold Robben’s 20-yard strike and Gomez capitalised, leaving Inter’s grasp on the Champions League crown they won last May hanging by a thread.
It was no less than the Germans deserved for a display full of attacking panache, led by the outstanding Robben, with 22-year-old goalkeeper Kraft imperious on his ninth senior match for the club.
The two sides have endured a rough time since meeting in last year’s final, with Inter eclipsed by rivals AC Milan in Serie A and Bayern 13 points adrift of the Bundesliga summit.
But both have improved of late, with Bayern in particular notching 22 goals in their previous seven games, and they produced an entertaining match with a dramatic finale.
The Inter side that beat Bayern 2-0 last season famously had no Italians in it but the sole indigenous player in the current line-up, Andrea Ranocchia, should have given the Nerazzurri the lead within 70 seconds.
The young centre-back, making his first Champions League start, found himself unmarked from Wesley Sneijder’s free-kick but he turned his effort wide from a few yards out.
Bayern youngster Kraft was then called into action to charge down a close-range effort from Esteban Cambiasso.
The visitors improved with star duo Ribery and Robben, playing together for only the third time this season because of injuries, beginning to shine.
The pair combined to create Bayern’s best chance of the first half when Ribery headed his team-mate’s dinked cross against the bar.
A fabulous Bayern passing move then ended inauspiciously when Gomez walloped the ball way over the bar from 10 yards.
While the visitors continued to play the prettier football, Inter’s defence proved typically durable and the Italians created another chance when Kraft made a terrific one-handed save to deny Eto’o from 12 yards.
Bayern had a great opportunity to break the deadlock seconds after half-time when Robben’s right-wing cross presented Thomas Mueller with a free header, which he contrived to glance well wide.
Robben then created a chance for himself, scurrying across the penalty area before rifling an effort against the outside of the post as the Germans began to look dominant.
Bayern’s stylish approach play continued to be undermined by their sloppiness in defence and Kraft again came to the rescue to parry Eto’o’s fierce effort, with Cambiasso spooning the rebound over with the goal at his mercy.
Just as the match appeared to be igniting, it just as quickly began to fizzle out with Bayern unable to find the final ball to compliment their superior possession.
There were no more chances of note until the final 10 minutes, with Inter appearing to be finishing the match stronger.
Kraft made two stops, first to deny substitute Houssine Kharja and then to parry Thiago Motta’s point-blank header, before Eto’o’s goalbound effort was deflected just wide.
But it was Bayern who found the decisive goal at the death when Robben broke forward and unleashed a strike from just outside the box, which Julio Cesar parried into the path of Gomez who tucked gleefully home.
– BBC SPORTs