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Wednesday July 24, 2024

Late Arnautovic strike gives Inter 1-0 win over Atletico

By Reuters
February 22, 2024

MILAN: A late goal from substitute Marko Arnautovic gave Inter Milan a 1-0 home victory after a tough battle with Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday.

Marko Arnautovic celebrates after netting the winner for Inter Milan over Atletico Madrid. — AFP/File
Marko Arnautovic celebrates after netting the winner for Inter Milan over Atletico Madrid. — AFP/File

The Austria striker, who had replaced the injured Marcus Thuram at halftime, redeemed himself following several missed chances by squeezing the ball home after Lautaro Martinez’s shot was saved by goalkeeper Jan Oblak in the 79th minute.

It was only the second time the teams had played each other, with Atletico winning 2-0 in the UEFA Super Cup back in 2010.

“It’s very satisfying. The lads were wonderful against a physical, technical side that did not make it at all easy,” Inter manager Simone Inzaghi told Sky Sport Italia. The return fixture is on March 13 in the Spanish capital.

“We know this is only the first leg, the second match will be tough, and certainly there are regrets for the result considering with all that we created, we deserved a wider scoreline. This is football, we keep going,” Inzaghi added.

Inter wore black armbands as their fans at San Siro paid tribute to the club’s former player Germany World Cup-winner Andreas Brehme who passed away aged 63 earlier on Tuesday.

Inter dominated the match and although Atletico had their chances the home side’s solid defence prevented the visitors from getting any attempts on target.

Samuel Lino had Atletico’s first opportunity but his right-footed curler went just wide of the far post. Ahead of the interval Martinez and Thuram had openings to break the deadlock for Inter but also came up against a resilient defence, with attempts blocked or saved by Oblak.

Inter started the second half on the attack as Federico Dimarco supplied a cross to Arnautovic, who slid in slightly late and ballooned the ball over from close range. Just after the hour the home fans again expressed their frustration as Arnautovic, having found himself free in front of goal, sent another effort over the crossbar before the villain became the hero of the night with his late winning goal. “The third chance came after I missed a couple and I’m happy to have scored for the people who came here to cheer as well as for my team mates and for my family, who were here tonight,” Arnautovic told Mediaset.

Despite the late win it was also a night of concern for Inzaghi as Frenchman Thuram, a pivotal player this season, was substituted at halftime, seemingly struggling with a leg injury. The 26-year-old has made a significant contribution this term with 12 goals and 11 assists in all competitions. “He will have tests and we hope that we won’t lose him for long,” said Inzaghi.