The status of Manchester United and Inter as two of football’s most prestigious clubs is irrefutable. The Italian and English juggernauts share a rich history of success in Europe’s premier competition, sharing five wins between them (two for Inter, three for the Red Devils).
Whether it’s Sir Alex Ferguson v Jose Mourinho, Zlatan Ibrahimovic v Cristiano Ronaldo or simply the Premier League champions v the Scudetto holders, the glamour tie of the second round of the UEFA Champions League offers a plethora of compelling match-ups.
Strangely, the teams have only been pitted against each other on three occasions. Goal.com takes a look at these encounters.
UEFA Champions League, Quarter-Final, First Leg: Manchester United 2-0 Inter, Wednesday, 3 March 1999
In a record-breaking, treble-winning season for the men from Manchester, this fixture was a defining moment.
Previously, United had never beaten Italian opposition over two legs, or prospered by more than one goal.
A Dwight Yorke brace was to change all that. The £12.5million summer signing from Aston Villa lit up Old Trafford, bagging a tremendous 30-goal haul in his first season.
Inter’s team was hardly devoid of star quality, with Javier Zanetti, Roberto Baggio, Ivan Zamorano and a youthful Andrea Pirlo appearing.
All eyes were on David Beckham and Diego Simeone though.
The pair had famously clashed at World Cup ’98, when a petulant kick from Beckham against Argentina led to his marching orders and sent England crashing out of the tournament.
Simeone’s presence hyped up the tension, and created a boiling atmosphere on a damp Manchester night in which the Italians were blown away by a blistering first half from the hosts.
David Beckham and Dwight Yorke combined twice to put the Reds into a 2-0 lead. The first came after just six minutes, when neat interplay by the pair led to the Trinidadian heading home a Beckham chip.
Yorke’s brace was completed just before the half-time whistle, when another Beckham cross caused chaos in the Inter box. As goalkeeper Gianluca Pagliuca and his bewildered defenders failed to clear their lines, Yorke stepped up again to nod the ball in unopposed.
The most memorable moment was yet to come. Straight after the second period commenced, a Fabio Galante cross to Ivan Zamorano seemed destined to end up in the Red Devils’ net only for an unbelievable save from Peter Schmeichel to deny the Chilean powerhouse.
An injury-time goal-line clearance from Henning Berg also boosted United, and saw them board the plane to Milan with the tie in their hands.
Manchester United: Schmeichel, G Neville, Stam, Johnsen (Berg, h-t), Irwin, Beckham, Keane, Scholes (Butt 69), Giggs, Yorke, Cole. Substitutes not used: Solskjaer, Blomqvist, P Neville, Brown, Van der Gouw.
Inter: Pagliuca, Galante, Bergomi, Colonnese, Zanetti, Cauet, Simeone, Winter; Djorkaeff, Baggio (Pirlo 79), Zamorano (Ventola 68). Substitutes not used: Ze Elias, West, Milanese, Gilberto, Frey.
UEFA Champions League, Quarter-Final, Second Leg: Inter 1-1 Manchester United (Manchester United 3-1 Inter on aggregate), Tuesday, 16 March 1999
With a 2-0 lead in the bag from the first leg, Manchester United took to the field in a hostile San Siro in the knowledge that a solid display would see them through to a Champions League semi-final.
Inter knew they had a mammoth task in front of them; to prevail they had to win by a three-goal margin. A tough ask against a Red Devils backline containing Henning Berg in inspirational form and the immovable Jaap Stam.
The Italians were able to call on the returning Ronaldo. O Fenômeno was coming back into the fold after a troublesome knee injury had kept him out of action in the weeks before the game.
Little did we know at the time how catastrophic the situation would become for the Brazilian legend.
The first half began with a bang, as the Nerazzurri began to pile on the pressure. In the 16th minute, Ivan Zamorano charged into the Mancunians' penalty box, only to be brought down by a clumsy challenge from the Great Dane, Peter Schmeichel.
To the chagrin of the home crowd, referee Gilles Veissiere waved away the frantic appeals from the Inter players.
Undeterred, the Italians continued their bombardment. Schmeichel again denied Zamorano, whilst Berg desperately hooked away a Javier Zanetti cross intended for the Chilean.
Lady luck was in Sir Alex Ferguson’s favour. A stunning Zanetti shot rebounded off the post, before Berg denied Ronaldo with a last-ditch tackle.
It took until the 63rd minute before the Reds' resistance was finally broken. Coming on for the tired Ronaldo, Nicola Ventola calmly finished after a slip from Roy Keane in his own penalty area.
Inter continued to search in vain for the extra goals needed to see them through, before Paul Scholes finished the tie with only two minutes to go after he slotted home an Andy Cole header.
Inter: Pagliuca, Colonnese, Silvestre, Bergomi, West, Zanetti, Simeone, Cauet, Baggio, Zamorano, Ronaldo. Subs: Frey, Galante, Djorkaeff, Winter, Ventola, Ze Elias, Moriero.
Manchester United: Schmeichel, G. Neville, Irwin, Stam, Berg, Keane, Johnsen, Giggs, Beckham, Cole, Yorke. Subs: Van Der Gouw, Sheringham, P. Neville, Blomqvist, Scholes, Brown, Solskjaer.
Pre-season Friendly: Manchester United 2-3 Inter, Wednesday, 1 August 2007
Manchester United have a near-perfect record against Inter in competitive matches, but the Italians beat their hosts for the first time in this pre-season friendly.
On a warm August evening at Old Trafford, the reigning Serie A and Premier League champions served up 90 minutes full of goal-line action and exciting attacking football. If next week’s Champions League meeting is anywhere near as entertaining, it will go down as a classic.
In front of a record-breaking 73,738 crowd for a friendly at the Theatre of Dreams, United began the game with a swagger which would send them all the way to English and European glory in nine months' time.
Cristiano Ronaldo was at the centre, tormenting Maxwell in the Nerazzurri defence with his trademark mesmerising step-overs before forcing a save from Julio Cesar.
Fifteen minutes later, and the Mancunians took the lead. Patrice Evra charged into the Black and Blues' box and fired across a ball which was cleverly dummied by Ryan Giggs, before Wayne Rooney applied the finish.
Evra was a pivotal player in the match, but not always for the right reasons. After he and Rio Ferdinand failed to deal with a routine Luis Figo cross, David Suazo swivelled and fired past a despairing Edwin Van der Sar to put the teams on level pegging.
The Frenchman was again at fault for Inter’s second goal as a cavalier charge up the pitch saw him dispossessed by Dejan Stankovic, who played a one-two with Luis Figo, before picking out Zlatan Ibrahimovic who headed home the ball.
Evra’s pain continued as his chief tormentor Luis Figo supplied David Suazo with his second goal in the 34th minute to put Roberto Mancini’s side into a commanding 3-1 lead.
The second half improved for the hosts as they came back into this glamour meeting. However, it took a comedic own goal from apathetic substitute Adriano in the 57th minute to get United back on the score-sheet. The Brazilian headed a Cristiano Ronaldo free-kick into his own net.
Wayne Rooney and Ronaldo continued to press for an equaliser, but it simply wasn’t to be as Inter walked away with the bragging rights in this enjoyable summer fare.
Manchester United: Van der Sar; Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Eagles, Carrick, O'Shea; Ronaldo, Rooney, Giggs.
Subs: Martin, Fletcher, Bardsley, Silvestre, Kuszczak.
Inter: J Cesar (Toldo, 76), Maxwell (Bolzoni, 90), Materazzi (Cesar, 46), Samuel, Chivu, Dacourt (Filkor, 76), Solari (Bejewclouf, 65), Figo (Jiminez, 60), Stankovic, Ibrahimovic (Adriano, 46), Suazo (Cruz, 60). Substitutes not used: Fatic, Balotelli.