Inter Milan stole a Champions League quarter-finals berth with a thrilling 3-2 win at Bayern Munich on Tuesday.
The defending European champions played the way champions tend to when up against it, reeling in a 2-1 deficit at the break to secure their trip to the last eight on away goals.
But it was heartbreak for Bayern, who won the first leg at the San Siro 1-0 and seemed to have exacted their revenge for last season’s loss in the Champions League final, only for Goran Pandev to strike a stunning winner in the 88th minute.
With their domestic campaign lost to Borussia Dortmund and the DFB Cup gone, Bayern’s painful exit ensures manager Louis van Gaal will depart on a low note at season’s end.
Inter could not have asked for a better start at the Allianz Arena than the one Samuel Eto’o handed them, the prolific Cameroon striker stealing through Bayern’s napping defence and sliding his shot underneath goalkeeper Thomas Kraft in just the fourth minute.
But the early blow galvanised Bayern, who responded with a flurry of chances that should have given the hosts a comfortable advantage at the break.
Inter custodian Julio Cesar, whose dreadful error gifted Bayern their winner at the San Siro, made another howler when he allowed Arjen Robben’s fierce effort to bounce off his chest and into the path of Mario Gomez.
The dangerous striker ran back with the flighted ball and deftly lobbed it over Cesar’s head, restoring Bayern’s advantage in the 21st minute.
Another Inter error, this time from defender Lucio, handed Bayern their second 10 minutes later.
The Brazilian stopper got an inadvertent touch to Robben’s pass in search of Gomez, knocking the ball free for Thomas Mueller to chip a shot over the onrushing Cesar.
Gomez produced the first threat on goal after the interval with a stinging volley that Cesar acrobatically knocked clear.
The tie was cast wide moments later as Wesley Sneijder drew Inter within a goal of the last eight, skidding a long-range strike into the far corner following Eto’o’s assist.
Inter pressed for the crucial away goal, leaving Bayern’s defence scrambling on several occasions as Sneijder and Eto’o went close.
But in the end it was Macedonian striker Pandev who fired the Italian champions into the quarter-finals.
The winning goal owed much to the good work of the omnipresent Eto’o, who stole his way around Holger Badstuber and whipped a pass into space for Pandev to slam the ball into the net.
The goal prompted wild celebrations at the Inter touchline, with boss Leonardo overcome with joy as his resurrection of the Italian giants reaches greater heights.