Rodrygo silenced San Siro with a last-gasp winner as Real Madrid overcame Inter 1-0 in Champions League Group D on Wednesday.
A scuffed volley off a lovely cushioned pass from fellow substitute Eduardo Camavinga saw Rodrygo give Madrid all three points in former Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti’s first European game since returning to the helm.
Inter dominated the first half but both Edin Dzeko and Lautaro Martinez failed to find a way past Thibaut Courtois when presented with chances you would have expected them to tuck away.
The game appeared to be destined for a draw until Rodrygo’s 89th-minute strike left Samir Handanovic rooted to the spot, giving Madrid a win away at Inter in the Champions League for the second straight season.
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) September 15, 2021
Inter cut Madrid open in the ninth minute but Dzeko was unable to get the better of Courtois after a fine touch from Martinez.
After Casemiro sent a skidding 25-yard effort narrowly wide, Martinez was presented with a glorious opportunity at the end of a blistering Inter break but his free header was straight at Courtois.
Eder Militao nodded wide from a corner when unmarked at the near post before Martinez, Marcelo Brozovic and Dzeko all failed to send the Nerazzurri into half-time with a lead that their play deserved.
Courtois made another great save to keep Dzeko’s low header out nine minutes after the restart and Milan Skriniar was unable to turn home the rebound.
Madrid’s first shot on target finally came in the 57th minute but Handanovic never looked like being beaten by Dani Carvajal’s shot from an acute angle.
The visitors remained in control and, after Vinicius Junior saw a pair of efforts blocked by Skriniar, Rodrygo snatched the win at the end of a fine move that also involved Federico Valverde.
What does it mean? Inter cannot afford a slip-up
Inter’s last three Champions League campaigns have ended in the group stage. Last season, they won only one of their six games to finish fourth, and they are up against two of the same teams – Madrid and Shakhtar Donetsk – this season.
The Nerazzurri will play both their fixtures against Sheriff Tiraspol and Shakhtar before the return game against Madrid. They will be desperate to avoid dropping points so they do not head to the Spanish capital in need of a result.
Inter peppered Madrid’s goal with shots – 14 in the first half alone, which was the most Los Blancos have faced in the opening 45 minutes of a Champions League game since November 2013. Courtois was pivotal to keeping them at bay, finishing the game with five saves.
Benzema blows cold
Karim Benzema needs just one goal to move clear of Raul and into outright fourth in the all-time Champions League goalscoring charts on 72. However, he snatched at his chances in Milan and it was Rodrygo who came up with the goods when Madrid were in need.
Key Opta Facts:
– Real Madrid have won their opening game of a Champions League campaign in 13 of the last 15 seasons (L2), however this was their first time doing so since 2018-19, after defeats in the previous two years.
– Los Blancos have won 13 of their last 14 games against Italian opponents in the UEFA Champions League (L1), with their only defeat in this run coming against Juventus in April 2018. Los Blancos have won each of the most recent seven meetings with Italian sides, by an aggregate score of 15-3.
– Rodrygo has scored in two of his three Champions League appearances against Inter, netting the winning goal for Madrid on both occasions – 3-2 in November 2020 and 1-0 here.
– Aged 36 years and six days, Luka Modric became the oldest outfield player to appear for Madrid in the Champions League since Chendo in November 1997 (36y 46d v Rosenborg).
Inter take on Bologna at home in Serie A on Saturday, while Madrid have a LaLiga clash with Valencia scheduled for the following day.
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