Inter vs Liverpool 0-2: Firmino and Salah Punish Courageous Nerazzurri

The Champions League night at the San Siro was full of regrets for Inter, who threw away a convincing performance against Liverpool in the last 15 minutes, conceding two goals and likely saying goodbye to their chances of making it past the Round of 16.

Inter will need to win the second leg at Anfield Road by a two-goal margin to at least tie the aggregate score. Easier said that done, especially considering that, after tonight’s unexpected (and probably undeserved) setback, Simone Inzaghi’s boys morale will be pretty low.

For large portions of the game at the San Siro, Inter played head-to-head with the English powerhouse and even came closer to scoring as Hakan Calhanoglu hit the crossbar when the score was still even. But then, Liverpool broke the deadlock with two clinical efforts from Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah. That’s the advantage of having players who can make a difference at any moment. 

For the Champions League grand gala, Simone Inzaghi deployed his best possible lineup with the only exception of Arturo Vidal replacing Nicolò Barella who was serving a match ban for his Madrid madness.

Jurgen Klopp, on the other hand, surprised the audience as he threw in the mix 18-year-old Harvey Elliott in the middle of the park and new arrival Ibrahima Konaté at center back in place of Joel Matip. For the rest, he confirmed his traditional 4-3-3 setup with Diogo Jota playing between AFCON Final veterans Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané upfront. 

Inter approached the game with no fear and indeed the Nerazzurri had the first chance of the match with a terrific close range shot from Calhanoglu that made the Reds’ crossbar rattle. 

It was the only real shot on target in a balanced first period where the two sides neutralized each other, with Trent Alexander-Arnold’s shots from outside the box being Liverpool’s main weapon. The Reds had the upper hand when it comes to ball possession but, all in all, Inzaghi’s boys managed to defend themselves without suffering that much.

Klopp made one change during the break, replacing Diogo Jota with Roberto Firmino but it was the Nerazzurri again to make themselves dangerous as Lautaro Martinez failed to connect with an Alessandro Bastoni cross from the left. He could have easily headed the ball home from point-blank range.

On 60 minutes, there were more changes for the Reds. Newcomer Luis Diaz took the field, together with Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita. The immediate effect was not what Klopp was hoping for as Edin Dzeko slotted the ball home from a Vidal cross that picked him past the Liverpool defensive line – just a few inches too far, as he was caught offside and saw his goal disallowed.

Luis Diaz quickly introduced himself with an incursion into the Nerazzurri area and a shot that was brilliantly blocked by Milan Skriniar, signaling that Liverpool meant business now. And indeed – after Dzeko squandered another good service from Vidal – the Reds opened the scoring on 75 minutes as Firmino headed home a corner kick taken by Andrew Robinson, anticipating his marker with a brilliant twisting movement.

Liverpool’s first turned the tide of the game as the Nerazzurri started to shake – especially at the back. Ivan Perisic’s curling effort sailing above the bar was a short illusion that Inter could salvage at least one point, but it was soon followed by Salah’s winning effort on 82 minutes. The Egyptian found the ball on his feet in the middle of the box from a Virgil Van Dijk header and from such a close distance could just make no mistake. Inter’s defenders should have done much better in the occasion.  

A late goal would at least kept Inter’s chances of qualification alive but the Nerazzurri didn’t manage to do much in the final minutes. At Anfield Road, they will need a miracle. But losing like this surely must hurt.



February 16, 2022 – UEFA Champions League 2021-22 Round of 16

SCORERS: 75′ Roberto Firmino, 82′ Salah

INTER (3-5-2):  Handanovic; Skriniar, de Vrij (87′ Ranocchia), Bastoni (91′ Dimarco); Dumfries (87′ Darmian), Vidal (87′ Gagliardini), Brozovic, Calhanoglu, Perisic; Lautaro Martinez (70′ Sanchez), Dzeko (Cordaz, Radu, D’Ambrosio, Sangalli, Caicedo, Carboni) Coach: S. Inzaghi
LIVERPOOL (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konaté, van Dijk, Robertson; Thiago Alcantara (86′ Milner), Fabinho (59′ Henderson), Elliot (59′ Keita); Salah, Diogo Jota (46′ Roberto Firmino), Mané (59′ Luis Diaz) (Kelleher, Gomez, Matip, Tsimikas, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Minamino, Origi) Coach: Klopp

REFEREE: Marciniak (Poland)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: ; Added Time: 1st Half 2′, 2nd Half 3′