London: Outfought and out-thought on the pitch and in the dugout, Chelsea and their coach Carlo Ancelotti were like rabbits frozen into immobilty by Jose Mourinho`s halo at Stamford Bridge.
From the moment the teams were thrown together in the first knockout round Mourinho bestrode the tie and as Ancelotti did all he could to avoid being sucked in to the maelstrom as Chelsea conceded the emotional advantage.
Inter added a scoreboard bonus with their 2-1 San Siro win but if Ancelotti thought his compatriots were going to do their usual and defend that lead he was sorely mistaken and the visitors deserved their 1-0 win for a 3-1 aggregate success.
Mourinho`s tactics of starting with three strikers, Samuel Eto`o, Diego Milito and Goran Pandev, seemed to confuse Chelsea from the kickoff and gave Inter an initiative they never relinquished.
"I wanted to sow some doubt in Chelsea and I saw some doubt," Mourinho told reporters. "Chelsea felt from the start it was Inter`s game."
As Mourinho danced and gestured animatedly in his technical area, Ancelotti was still and silent.
Even when assistant coach Ray Wilkins went ballistic over an early high tackle -- having to be held back from the Inter bench by the fourth official -- Ancelotti looked on almost as a detached observer.
His only real attempt to change the course of the game was the introduction of Joe Cole after an hour but even then the England midfielder tucked into a congested centre and failed to deliver the width his team and the fans were crying out for.
"I was not surprised by their formation -- that`s how they played in the last 30 minutes at the San Siro," said Ancelotti.
"But I was surprised by the hard work put in by Eto`o and Pandev.”
"It`s fair to say we were never fully in control, they put us under a lot of pressure, they controlled the pace of the game."
If Ancelotti was guilty of an inability to change the course of the game, he was not alone in the dock.
Michael Ballack and Frank Lampard are key midfield playmakers for two leading international teams yet they failed to impose themselves on the game and were outshone by man of the match Wesley Sneijder who set up Samuel Eto`s winner.
Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka were kept at arm`s length with ease by the impressive Inter duo of Lucio and Same Eto`o while Florent Malouda and John Obi Mikel were anonymous.
So Chelsea`s four-year home unbeaten run in the competition ended with a whimper and the painful wait for the biggest trophy of all goes on.
Owner Roman Abramovich, who brought Mourinho in to win it, will perhaps allow himself a wry grin as he waves his former golden boy off into the quarter-finals but there will be few smiles for Ancelotti.