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Manchester City logo
Champions League | Final
Jun 10, 2023 at 8pm UK
Etihad Stadium
Inter logo
Man City
1 - 0
Inter Milan
Rodri (68')
Ederson (90+4'), Braut Haaland (90+2')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Barella (59'), Lukaku (83'), Onana (90+2'), Inzaghi (90+6')

Inter Milan's past record in European Cup and Champions League finals

Sports Mole looks back at Inter Milan's story in European Cup and Champions League finals, ahead of this week's decider with Manchester City in Istanbul.

Inter Milan's semi-final success against city rivals AC Milan last month set up this Saturday's Champions League final contest with Manchester City, and it is the Nerazzurri's record in continental competition that demonstrates the greater pedigree.

While the English champions will take part in just their second Champions League decider, Inter have now reached the showpiece of European football for a sixth time.

As one of Italy's most decorated clubs, they boast an esteemed history in Europe's elite club tournament, having lifted the trophy three times from five previous final appearances.

Here, Sports Mole looks back at Inter's story in their European Cup and Champions League final appearances, ahead of this weekend's events in Istanbul.

General view of the Champions League trophy before the match on April 19, 2023© Reuters


Kicking off a remarkable run of three finals in four years, Inter's victory in Vienna remains perhaps one of their most prestigious to date.

Conquering a Real Madrid side featuring Ferenc Puskas, Alfredo di Stefano and Paco Gento saw the Milan club crowned champions of Europe for the first time, after they ran out 3-1 winners at the Praterstadion on 27 May.

Real had already won the relatively new European Cup five times before journeying to the Austrian capital, but Inter struck twice through their own superstar Sandro Mazzola, with a further goal from Aurelio Milani ensuring they would fly home with the silverware in tow.

Helenio Herrera's team then made their debut in the Intercontinental Cup - precursor to the current FIFA Club World Cup - later that year, when an extra-time triumph over Argentina's Independiente effectively made Inter club champions of the world.


Herrera's Inter grew their legacy just 12 months later, when they became the third team to retain the European Cup; beating Benfica by a single goal in a final played on home soil.

Renowned for his defensive innovations which would later be coined 'catenaccio', the Argentine coach helped his team shut out the Portuguese champions at San Siro, and the legend of 'Grande Inter' was born.

Benfica had scored eight goals in winning two previous finals against Barcelona and Real Madrid, but they simply could not find a way through the Nerazzurri's dead-bolted back door, and Brazilian winger Jair netted the only goal just before half time in Milan.

However, that was to be Herrera's final continental triumph with Inter, and his impressive tally across two spells at the club ultimately stood at three Serie A Scudetti and two European Cups.


Ultimately undone by the 'Lisbon Lions', Inter's build-up to the 1967 final centred on winning a 'tripletta' of European Cups, and they were considered strong favourites before meeting underdogs Celtic at Estadio Nacional.

Herrera was by now the highest paid manager in Europe and widely thought to be unbeatable when it mattered most, while Jock Stein's Celtic side were drawn from a local pool of talent around Glasgow and favoured an attacking approach to the beautiful game.

In their semi-final success against CSKA Sofia, Inter had required a replay to scrape through to the final, but they made a fast start in Lisbon and seemed on track for a third European title.

Mazzola scored after seven minutes from the penalty spot, but midway through the second half victory began to slip from the Nerazzurri's grasp when Celtic equalised through Tommy Gemmell. Inside the last 10 minutes, Stevie Chalmers then put Stein's side ahead, and Celtic's free-flowing football had overcome Herrera's catenaccio.

'La Grande Inter' failed to recover, finishing successive seasons trophyless before the architect of their stratospheric rise departed for Roma.


Five years later, though, Inter were back in the European Cup final, with Jair, Mazzola and defensive colossus Giacinto Facchetti all still part of the team beaten in Rotterdam.

The clubs convened at the home of Ajax's arch-rivals Feyenoord, De Kuip, on the final day of May, and a virtuoso display by the Amsterdam side saw Inter travel home empty-handed once again.

Giovanni Invernizzi had led the Nerazzurri past 1967 conquerors Celtic in the semi-finals, but they came up short against a Johan Cruyff-inspired Ajax, who won by virtue of two second-half goals from their maverick conductor wearing the iconic number 14.

'Total Football' had triumphed, and catenaccio was again discredited, but even after going on to claim a third straight European Cup one year later, Cruyff would continue his war against defensive football for decades to come - deeply influencing a young midfielder under his wing at Barcelona by the name of Pep Guardiola.

Inter Milan's manager Jose Mourinho celebrates with the Champions League trophy on May 22, 2010© Reuters


After a long and painful absence of 38 years, Inter returned to the showpiece finale of European club football at Madrid's Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, making a first appearance in the Champions League final.

Following several seasons of failure since the European Cup was rebranded during the 1990s, the Nerazzurri this time had a proven winner on their side, as Jose Mourinho had already led outsiders Porto to the title in 2004 and enjoyed subsequent success with Chelsea and in Milan.

Both clubs arrived in Spain chasing an historic treble - something never before achieved by a team from their respective nations. Inter had come closest to doing so back in 1965, when they won Serie A and the European Cup but lost to Juventus in the Coppa Italia final.

At the Bernabeu, Internazionale - to give them their full name - famously featured no Italian players in the starting XI that night, when Mourinho's multinational side ruthlessly counter-attacked Bayern and doggedly defended their lead until the final whistle.

Diego Milito's strikes in the 35th and 70th minutes split the sides, earning the Nerazzurri a third continental title, and their first since 1965.

In addition to completing the treble, Real Madrid-bound Mourinho became only the third man in European Cup history to lift the trophy as coach of two different clubs, and despite departing within days of Inter's greatest feat, his name is still etched proudly in club lore to this day.

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