Italian club Inter Milan will take on English champion Manchester City in the final of the UEFA Champions League (UCL) on Sunday (IST).
The Serie A side emerged as an unlikely contender in the lucrative tournament and is the final hurdle standing between Pep Guardiola and a historic treble—Man City has already clinched the Premier League as well as the FA Cup.
While Inter suffered with inconsistencies in the league, Simone Inzaghi has marshalled his side quite effectively into the summit clash of the UCL with wins over Porto, Benfica, and league rival AC Milan in the knockout stages. Inter will have a shot at the coveted European glory for the first time in 10 years.
Inter reached the final with seven wins, three losses, and two draws in the competition, scoring 19 goals and conceding 10.
Inter was drawn alongside heavyweights Bayern Munich and Barcelona. Czech First League side Victoria Plzen completed group C.
Inter 0-2 Bayern
Skipper Samir Handanovic’s first test in the competition was against German champion Bayern in the opening fixture of the group stage, which the Serie A club lost 2-0. Leroy Sane’s 25th-minute strike and Danilo D’Ambrosio’s own goal sealed Inter’s fate at San Siro.
Plzen 0-2 Inter
Inter regrouped in just a week and clinched a commanding 2-0 win over Plzen at the Stadion mesta Plzne. Edin Dzeko and Denzel Dumfries were on the scoresheet as Inter kickstarted its campaign.
Inter 1-0 Barcelona
Inter’s next test was against Barcelona at home. Hakan Calhanoglu went past a sliding Sergio Busquets at the cusp of half-time and scored the only goal of this contest to hand Inter a narrow win that took it to second in group C. Xavi’s side was far from its best, squandering a handful of chances, and it paid the price.
Barcelona 3-3 Inter
It was goals galore at the Camp Nou a week later, that involved a whopping six goals. Robert Lewandowski scored a brace—the latter of which came in injury time as Barca settled for a draw, that left it on the brink of elimination. Nicolo Barella, Lautaro Martinez, and Robin Gosens scored one each as Inter solidified its second place, behind spotless Bayern.
Inter 4-0 Plzen
Inzaghi’s side got yet another momentum push, with a massive 4-0 win against an unstable Plzen. Edin Dzeko’s double, along with Romelu Lukaku and Henrikh Mkhitaryan finding the back of the net, Inter cruised into the knockout stages in style. This win, coupled with Barcelona’s 0-3 loss against Bayern, pushed the Spanish side out of the tournament.
Bayern 2-0 Inter
With the top two spots of group C finalised—Bayern first and Inter second—this contest was a mere formality. Eric Maxim Chupo-Moting continued his rich vein of form and got on the scoresheet this time as well with a rising shot into the top-left corner from outside the box, which sealed the deal for the Bavarians. Bayern finished the group stage with six out of six wins, scoring 18 goals while conceding just two.
Round-of-16: won 1-0 on aggregate vs Porto
Inter scraped through to the quarterfinal with a 1-0 aggregate win over Portuguese club Porto. Two red cards, one in each leg, were all that Porto managed to collect in the two matches. Chelsea outcast Lukaku, who came off the bench, scored the all-important goal in the first leg, which eventually became the solitary goal that helped Inter progress to the next round.
The second leg was largely possession-based and nothing substantial happened in the regulation 90 minutes. But the drama was reserved for the fifth minute of stoppage time as a goalline clearance and the crossbar prevented Porto from snatching the goal that would have taken the match to extra time.
Quarterfinal: won 5-3 on aggregate vs Benfica
Second-half goals from Barella and Lukaku helped Inter run away with a crucial win against Benfica away from home. In the 51st minute, Barella headed past Odysseas Vlachodimos off a long cross from Alessandro Bastoni, to hand Inter the lead. Inter’s lead was extended in the 82nd minute when substitute Lukaku converted a penalty kick awarded by video review for a handball by Joao Mario inside the box.
It was goals galore in the second leg, six to be precise. Barella found the back of the net this time as well, within the first quarter as Inter extended its first-leg lead quite comfortably. Shortly after, Benfica drew level before going into the half-time. But relentless in their pursuit, Lautaro Martinez and Correa scored one goal each to double their side’s lead to set up a semifinal clash against city rival AC Milan.
Semifinal: Won 3-0 on aggregate vs AC Milan
Inter humbled its city rival Milan as it fetched comprehensive wins in both legs. After a comfortable 2-0 win in the first leg, with goals from Dzeko and Mkhitaryan, the three-time UCL winner went into the reverse fixture at home with a huge advantage.
The second leg was much more of a contest than the previous tie but, with Milan desperately chasing goals, Inter captain Martínez stepped up with a 74th-minute strike, as Lukaku turned provider, to cement its place in the final.
Inzaghi could become the first Italian coach to lead Inter to European glory. The Nerazzurri’s previous triumphs in the competition were under Helenio Herrera (1964 and 1965) and José Mourinho (2010).
- AFG vs PAK 1st ODI Live Score: Pakistan 201 all out against Afghanistan as spinners wreak havoc
- Praggnanandhaa vs Carlsen Final LIVE Updates, Chess World Cup 2023: Pragg falls behind on clock against Carslen
- Bengaluru FC vs Gokulam Kerala FC LIVE score; BFC 0-0 GKFC; Durand Cup 2023: Akhil misses close-range header
- Mohun Bagan vs Abahani Dhaka Live Score, AFC Cup Playoff: Line-ups out, Hector Yuste makes debut; Kick-off soon
- US Open 2023 Prize Money: Total amount and round-wise details