Inter 1-1 Slavia Prague: Barella rescues point for Conte's side

Antonio Conte's first Champions League match in charge of Inter ended in a fortunate draw with Slavia Prague.

Nicolo Barella (R) after scoring for Inter against Slavia Prague in a 2019-20 UEFA Champions League Group F match.   -  Getty Images

An injury-time equaliser from Nicolo Barella denied Slavia Prague a famous Champions League win over Inter Milan at San Siro on Tuesday.

The champion of the Czech Republic league was not expected to escape from a daunting Group F that also contains Borussia Dortmund and Barcelona but looked on course for a deserved victory in Milan through Peter Olayinka.

Slavia could have added to its tally and was punished in second-half stoppage time, as Barella's shot bounced through a crowded box and into the left-hand corner to ensure the game finished 1-1.

Inter started slowly until Stefan de Vrij headed over when unmarked six yards out, before Lautaro Martinez fired narrowly wide.

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Danilo D'Ambrosio's header was denied by Ondrej Kolar, who was then lucky not to give away a goal as he made a mess of an attempted clearance but Inter was largely lifeless in the first half.

Kolar had to react smartly to stop Stefano Sensi's cross creeping in and then keep out Martinez's rebound, before Kwadwo Asamoah avoided a red card following a VAR review for a foul on Ibrahim Benjamin Traore, who had to be substituted.

It was his replacement, Jaroslav Zeleny, whose first-time shot was superbly saved by Samir Handanovic only for Olayinka to pounce and turn the ball high into the net to give Slavia their shock lead.

Buoyed by the breakthrough, Slavia continued pressing high and should have scored a second through Lukas Masopust, who blazed over the bar from the edge of the box.

It was substitute Barella who rescued a result for Antonio Conte's side, his half-volley finding a way into the net after Sensi's free-kick had crashed off the crossbar.

What does it mean? Conte's Champions League return off to a bleak start

Conte could not match his domestic success in Europe with Juventus and this was an uninspiring start to Champions League life with Inter.

In a group containing Barca and Dortmund, a draw at home to the weakest of the four teams - on paper at least - has put the Nerazzurri at a disadvantage after only one matchday.

Slavia might just fancy one or two more shocks, though, given the nature of its performance here.

Soucek supreme

Slavia captain Tomas Soucek was efficient on the ball and proved a valuable screen to the back four, keeping Inter's limp attack nullified.

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Martinez a figure of frustration

Having missed two presentable opportunities, Martinez was booked for dissent after conceding a free-kick near his own penalty area, compounding an unhappy outing.

Conte takes blame after limp Inter draw

Antonio Conte shouldered the blame for Inter's 1-1 draw against Slavia Prague as its Champions League campaign got off to a slow start. 

"Slavia Prague certainly played in a very European way, aggressive and with intensity," the Inter coach told Sky Sport Italia.

"We didn't do well to find solutions and get around that. In other games, we were up against sides who sat back and waited for us, whereas Slavia attacked us. We struggled and to be honest I am not satisfied with the performance.

"I must be the first to take responsibility, because evidently I didn't have the effect I wanted in my initial choices or in explaining the kind of match we were going into.

"We could've done far better, this is not the kind of football we are training to play. We've got to improve in terms of character too, but when I talk about a growth process, it goes through games like this too, as I know what kind of situation this is."

The nature of the performance was a concern to Conte, who suggested his side had plenty of room for growth, but warned fans not to expect instant results.

"Slavia beat us in terms of intensity, determination, pace," said the former Chelsea boss. "We showed nothing of our ideas of football. You seem to think I arrive here, touch and the ducklings turn into swans.

"There's a lot of work to do and we need to improve, but that was not our football. When I say we shouldn't let ourselves get swept up in enthusiasm, I mean it. I am here to help these lads improve, so put the blame on me.

"I refuse to talk about individuals, because we were all below par, starting from me. I am the first onto the naughty step, the main dunce.

"I generally hate the long ball and run routine, as that is not our football, but that's what we largely did. It wasn't the plan."

Key Opta Facts

- Inter has only managed to win one of its last five opening matches of a Champions League campaign (P5 W1 D3 L1).

- Despite avoiding defeat in three of it last four Champions League games (D3 L1), Slavia Prague is winless in its last six matches in the competition since it beat FCSB in its first ever Champions League encounter back in September 2007 (P6 W0 D3 L3).

- Peter Olayinka became just the fifth different Nigerian to score on their Champions League debut after Daniel Amokachi, Victor Ikpeba, Lucky Idahor and Yakubu.

- Nicolo Barella's equaliser (91:47) is Inter's latest Champions League goal since Giampaolo Pazzini netted against Marseille back in March 2012 (95:28).

What's next?

Inter, which faces AC Milan in the derby this weekend, will head to Barcelona on Champions League matchday two on October 2, while Slavia hosts Borussia Dortmund.

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