Tue Mar 15 07:41pm EDT
"The God of Football is strange..." said Inter owner Massimo Moratti after his side took a third-minute lead at Bayern Munich's Allianz Arena, then went down 2-1 before winning 3-2 to advance to the next round of the Champions League on away goals. Even Inter's defending and goalkeeping goof-ups couldn't keep them from stomping out Bayern's hopes of getting revenge for last year's Champions League final. Given that, Bayern would probably go with a more derogatory and vulgar word than "strange."
Amidst Inter's joy following Samuel Eto'o's opening goal and the final whistle that sealed the defending champions' advancement, defender Yuto Nagatomo proudly displayed a Japanese flag with "You'll never walk alone" written across the bottom of it. He did a lap around the pitch and got cheers of support, even from the opposing fans who still couldn't believe they just watched their team get knocked out of the Champions League.
Last weekend, Nagatomo spoke about how it felt to play Inter's Serie A match against Brescia the day the tsunami first hit Japan (via Football Italia):
"It was terrifying and I was distraught," explained Nagatomo after a 1-1 draw at Brescia last night.
"Even before the game I felt my head spinning, as I kept thinking back to what was happening in Japan.
"At the starting whistle, I managed to put aside those ugly thoughts and concentrate on the game.
"The good thing about being a professional football player is that it's my duty to do my best and in that way reassure my people.
"I spoke to my family and thankfully they are alright."
His flag and the message on it certainly was a nice gesture to reassure his countrymen and show that his thoughts were with them. At least one newspaper or website will probably twist it into a declaration from the Japanese defender that proves he wants a move to Liverpool, though.
Here are the highlights from Tuesday's second leg match...
And once Inter's place in the quarterfinals was sealed, Marco Materazzi celebrated by giving out free piggy-back rides.
Photos: Getty Images; Video: 101gg
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