Ansu Fati came off the bench to steal a late three points for a much changed Barcelona side against Inter Milan on Tuesday evening to eliminate the Italians from the UEFA Champions League.
Inter were probably the more impressive in the opening period but Carles Perez gave the visitors the lead midway through the first-half. Romelu Lukaku fired in the equaliser on the stroke of half-time with a brilliant finish into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area.
The hosts had chances to win the game and ensure their progression but they were sucker-punched as Fati guided a brilliant winning goal into the bottom corner in the 86th minute to see Barca finish top of the group and oust Antonio Conte’s men.
Fascinating start at the San Siro
The hosts could have seized the lead within the first five minutes as a flowing move saw the ball played to Danilo D’Ambrosio but he blazed the ball over the crossbar. Lukaku also thought he had kept up his hot streak as he collected Diego Godin’s low shot and thundered the ball into the roof of the net, only to see his celebrations cut short by the offside flag.
Inter were the better side throughout the first-half but Barcelona goalkeeper Neto proved to be a formidable opponent as he palmed away Cristiano Biraghi’s well-struck effort.
Inter spurn opportunities and Barca profit
Despite the hosts’ early dominance, Barca struck the opener. Antoine Griezmann’s cross was collected by Arturo Vidal, who expertly played it into the path of Perez. He then coolly dispatched a shot into the bottom corner of the net with a composed finish.
Clement Lenglet should then have doubled the lead as a corner fell to him only yards out but he sliced his effort wide.
Lukaku finally beats Neto
That missed chance came back to bite the visitors as Conte’s troops deservedly hauled themselves minutes before the break. A long ball fell to Lautaro Martinez before Lukaku powerfully dispatched the knock down beyond the despairing grasp of Neto.
Both sides then had chances to go ahead after the break. Samir Handanovic produced a solid low stop to deny Griezmann. Neto followed that up as Lukaku shrugged off Jean-Clair Todibo and was again frustrated by the Brazilian.
Inter twice thought they had claimed the lead as the second-half wore on through Martinez but on both occasions, his strikes were ruled out by the offside flag.
Fati comes of the bench to steal three points
Much like in the first-half, the Catalans were subdued but always dangerous on the break. Perez wasted a wonderful opportunity to earn the three points as he fired over from the left.
His replacement, Fati, showed him how it was done though as he picked up the ball on the edge of the Inter penalty area and guided a zipping low shot into the far bottom corner of the Inter net to seal three points late on.
This defeat will hurt Antonio Conte and Inter Milan. For the majority of the clash, the Nerazzurri were the better side and created the better chances to find the net, with their chances being wasted on numerous occasions. The opportunity to earn victory and progress to the next round of the competition was huge, especially against a much-changed Barca side. They will massively rue the evening though as they finish third in the group and drop into the UEFA Europa League, whilst Barca finish top.
Inter Milan: Handanovic (7); Skriniar (7), de Vrij (6), Godin (6); D’Ambrosio (6), Vecino (6), Valero (7) (Esposito (N/A), 77′), Brozovic (6), Biraghi (6) (Lazaro (6), 69′); Lukaku (7), Martinez (6).
FC Barcelona: Neto (8); Umtiti (6), Lenglet (7), Todibo (6); Firpo (6), Vidal (7), Rakitic (6) (de Jong (6), 63′), Wague (6); Alena (6), Perez (7) (Fati (7), 85′), Griezmann (6) (Suarez (6), 62′).
Goals: Perez (23′), Lukaku (44′), Fati (86′)
Referee: Bjorn Kuipers
Yellow Cards: Lenglet (35′), Valero (45+1′), Firpo (49′), de Vrij (88′), Godin (90+2′)
Red Cards: N/A
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