Inter vs Barcelona 1-0: Calhanoglu Makes Inzaghi Smile Again

The beauty of football lies in its utter unpredictability. On Tuesday night, a Barcelona side in tip top shape traveled to the San Siro for Champions League matchday three to meet an Inter squad that seemed on the verge of collapse. 

Xavi Hernandez’s boys came into the game with six wins out of seven La Liga games while Inter had already collected four domestic losses. Yet, it was Simone Inzaghi’s Nerazzurri to have the upper hand as they made a full score thanks to a lone strike from Hakan Calhanoglu just before half time. 

Inter thus gained a three-point lead over the Blaugrana as both clubs compete for a second place spot in a UCL group that’s being dominated by Bayern Munich (the Germans put five past poor Viktoria Plzen earlier in the day to consolidate their top position). 

That’s not enough yet to book a ticket to the knockout stage as the two sides will meet again in one week time at the Camp Nou. However, tonight’s win will surely provide a much-needed boost to Inter’s morale as they arguably put together their best performance this season. 

It was a night full of good news for Simone Inzaghi, who saw Calhanoglu make a comeback to scoring ways in style, while his defense was basically perfect. Stefan De Vrij was able to keep the much-feared Robert Lewandowski at bay while Federico Dimarco was equally effective in limiting Ousmane Dembélé.

As expected, the Nerazzurri gaffer also featured Andre Onana between the posts and the Cameroonian shot-stopper repaid the trust with another confident display. There were no surprises in Inzaghi’s regular 3-5-2 setup, taken Marcelo Brozovic and Romelu Lukaku’s painful absences into acccount.

Xavi answered with a daring 4-3-3 formation where youngsters Pedri and Gavi partnered with veteran Sergio Busquets in the middle of the park. Raphinha and Dembélé supported Lewandowski from the flanks up top. 

The match followed the expected partner with Barcelona piling up the pressure from the get go. But after a few minutes of struggle, Inter shook the tension off with an Hakan Calhanoglu shot that successfully tested Marc-André Ter Stegen’s reflexes.

Barcelona kept control of the operations and the pressure remained on the Nerazzurri‘s side. However, Inter showed they could be dangerous on the counter. The Blaugrana risked a lot on 23 minutes as Eric Garcia committed a handball in the box but was saved by an offside call. 

Five minutes later, Correa was also caught offside as he received the ball and slotted it past Ter Stegen after a brilliant fast break. A disappointing outcome, but Inter seemed on the right track.

Indeed, the Nerazzurri had their opener right before the half time break as Calhanoglu was magnificently served by Dimarco and found the right spot into the bottom right corner of Ter Stegen’s goal with a clinical conclusion. 

The second half followed a similar pattern. Barcelona’s ball possession could have made the difference on paper but, at the end of the day, Onana had to make only one real save. It happened on 62 minutes when he pushed back a Dembélé challenge at the near post.

The Blaugrana balanced the count of disallowed goals as they saw Pedri’s winning effort on 67 minutes cancelled on grounds of an Ansu Fati handball in the build-up.

Inter seemed content with defending the lead and weathering the storm as they occasionally tried to hit the Spaniards on the counter. It took a superb defensive display on the part of Garcia to prevent Lautaro Martinez from going for a close-range shot that could have caused some trouble to Xavi and co.  

The Nerazzurri‘s resilience was eventually rewarded with a thrilling win despite a late scare during an endless stoppage time period that stretched for nine minutes. There was a suspicious Denzel Dumfries intervention in the box but a VAR check ruled out a possible handball on the part of the Dutchman wingback.

Simone Inzaghi could thus breathe a sigh of relief. Despite a terrible start in Serie A, it would seem that Inter are still alive and kicking. 



October 4, 2022 – Champions 2022-2023 Group C

SCORERS: 45’+2′ Calhanoglu

INTER (3-5-2): Onana; Skriniar, de Vrij (77′ Acerbi), Bastoni; Darmian (76′ Dumfries), Barella, Calhanoglu (85′ Asllani), Mkhitaryan, Dimarco (76′ Gosens); Lautaro Martinez, Correa (56′ Dzeko) (Handanovic, Botis, Gagliardini, Bellanova, D’Ambrosio, Carboni, Zanotti) Coach: S. Inzaghi
BARCELONA (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Christensen (58′ Piqué), Eric Garcia, Marcos Alonso (64′ Alex Baldé); Gavi (83′ Kessié), Busquets, Pedri; Dembélé, Lewandowski, Raphinha (63′ Ansu Fati) (Inaki Pena, Tenas, Ferran Torres, Jordi Alba, Casado, Torre) Coach: Xavi
REFEREE: Mr. Vincic (Slovenia)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Barella, Calhanoglu, Lautaro Martinez, Bastoni, Onana, Inzaghi (I), Busquets, Gavi, Xavi (B); Added Time: 1st Half 3′, 2nd Half 8′
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