Inter spare Italy's blushes, United thank Hernandez

Inter spare Italy's blushes, United thank Hernandez

Inter's victory yesterday against the side they beat in last season's final was also the first time since Ajax - managed at the time by Bayern handler Louis van Gaal - in the 1995/96 edition that a team had overturned a first leg home deficit to progress since the Champions League replaced the European Cup.

Inter - whose Serie A rivals AC Milan and AS Roma had been eliminated last week - were joined in the last eight by Manchester United, who weakened by injuries still proved too strong for French champions Marseille winning 2-1 at home and on aggregate.

A double by Mexican Javier Hernandez was enough to give their manager Sir Alex Ferguson his 100th Champions League victory. Inter's victory looked far from assured when they were trailing 2-1 in the second-half but goals by the inestimable Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder and then a neatly taken goal two minutes from time by Goran Pandev sealed a remarkable victory.

Inter coach Leonardo sank to the ground in delight as Pandev's shot hit the back of the net and the Brazilian sang the praises of his players, who looked to have lost their way when he replaced Rafael Benitez in late December.

"In one year, this team has had three coaches (Jose Mourinho left after doing the treble last season), three different ways of thinking and three different languages," said the 41-year-old former AC Milan handler.

"You have to be highly intelligent to cope with all that, after having won everything.

"The great quality of this team, is its intelligence. "It has a tactical intelligence and natural intuition. "It is capable of anything, it is improving by the day, and it could yet still be our year in the championship, the Champions League and the Cup."