A three-time European champion is back to be seen in the quarterfinals of the Champions League after twelve years of abstinence. Inter returns and it is necessary to give value to the Italian Serie A, that if Naples overcomes its on-track tie against Eintracht, it will place three squads among the eight best in the highest competition on the continent.
Diogo Costa, Marcano, Zaidu Sanusi (Wendell, min. 84), Pepê, Fábio Cardoso, Stephen Eustáquio, Marko Grujic, Evanilson (Toni Martínez, min. 70), Wanderson Galeno, Mateus Uribe (Daniel Namaso, min. 84) and Mehdi Taremi
Andre Onana, Acerbi, Darmian (Skriniar, min. 79), Alessandro Bastoni (de Vrij, min. 74), Calhanoglu, Dimarco (D’Ambrosio, min. 69), Barella (Brozovic, min. 79), Denzel Dumfries, Mkhitaryan, Lautaro Martínez and Dzeko (Lukaku, min. 69)
Referee Szymon Marciniak
Yellow cards Darmian (min. 33), Dzeko (min. 68), Pepê (min. 79) and Acerbi (min. 89)
Inter survived the electricity of O Dragão and the strength of Porto, which launched with more enthusiasm than talent to come back from Lukaku’s goal that gave Inter an advantage in the first leg. In the final rush of the seven minutes of extension, the Portuguese champion shot twice at the post and forced Dumfries to take a ball under the posts. In two minutes Porto created more chances than in 92. They accumulated men against the stinginess of Inter, who was on the wire when before they had controlled the game without stress.
It was, yes, a match pick and shovel for the interistas. The ball was from Porto, orphaned by the skillful Otavio, sent off in Milan, but in which Sergio Conceiçao drew an eleven on the board to attack, with Pepê, a winger, on the right side. He didn’t get to her. Inter calmed the situation from the control of a game rhythm that they wanted and managed to lower. Hardly any swing bothered him, a distant attempt by Uribe or a shot by Grujic that Onana blocked.
Folded as it was and striving to decaffeinate the game, Inter barely dared to explore the rival’s field while they gladly watched as the clock ticked in their favor. Without attack there was no counterattack. Offensive excursions could be the source of problems rather than solutions, so fear prevailed over audacity. Porto only unblocked the positional attack when they took risks. It took time to do it. Twenty minutes from time, just as Inzaghi called on Lukaku to replace Dzeko, Conceiçao brought together two forwards in the crown of the area. Toni Martínez from Murcia came in to work with Taremi and bring Inter together even more, who fought to prevent the ball from reaching the area.
The Italian team denied Porto finishing options until a toss-up final with the entire offensive arsenal of the Portuguese team on the pitch, with three strikers up front waiting for a saving center or rebound, a facet to which even the central ones joined. The occasions came and they did it with such forcefulness that the extension would not have been an unfair epilogue. With more drive than football, Porto fell, enthusiastic, but very fair to manage at certain levels. It doesn’t seem like Inter has too much either.
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