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.

Published : Sep 18, 2019 09:11 IST

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

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

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.

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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