Inter vs RB Salzburg 2-1: Çalhanoğlu Carries Inter Top of Group D

Inter Milan edged RB Salzburg to a hard-fought 2-1 victory, which helped Nerazzurri to leapfrog Real Sociedad to the top of Champions League Group D.

The Inter performance was far from dominant and the hosts had to get through tricky spells against their Austrian opponents. However, a moment of class from the veteran forward Alexis Sanchez and a cool Çalhanoğlu penalty with 25 minutes remaining was enough to extend Inter’s unbeaten run to five in all competitions, with four victories.

Sanchez Strike Settles Inter After Uneasy Start

Salzburg showed their intentions early on by controlling possession and inviting Inter to push forward, which led to the first big chance. The Austrian side remained patient and eventually saw their chance to pierce through Nerazzurri’s backline when Luka Sučić played in Oscar Gloukh, who forced Yann Sommer into a low save.

Sučić continued to threaten in the early stages and he broke through the Inter defence and raced towards goal but Stefan de Vrij and Alessandro Bastoni were quick to recover and snubbed out any danger.

Inter came through the opening 18 minutes unscathed and produced a clever flowing move to open the scoring, which started and ended with Alexis Sanchez – making his Champions League debut for the season. The Chilean controlled just inside the attacking third and raced into the box to latch onto Davide Frattesi’s flicked pass and made no mistake firing past Alexander Schlager.

After a nervy start, the Sanchez goal settled Inter and the hosts soon started to dominate possession as they pushed for a potentially decisive second. Nerazzurri’were generally left frustrated by Salzburg’s deep defensive line until Denzel Dumfries took a more direct approach and whipped a dangerous ball into the six-yard area that a sliding Oumar Solet almost diverted into his own net.

Inter continued to pen Salzburg back and the visitors withdrew deeper and deeper without the ball. The continuous Nerazzurri pressure almost paid off before the break when Hakan Çalhanoğlu’s drifted free-kick was headered into a threatening position by Benjamin Pavard, but no Inter players were quick enough to react and Salzburg cleared the loose ball.

Gloukh’s Salzburg Sucker Punch

Similarly to the start of the match, Salzburg started brightly and tried to level the score. Just seconds after the restart, Amar Dedić tried his luck from distance, although the attempt was a comfortable height for Sommer to hold without issue. Dedić continued to lead the Salzburg charge with a curling strike from a tight angle that flew well wide of the target.

As the Austrian side tried to throw players forward in search of an equaliser, they eventually became exposed in defence and Carlos Augusto was inches away from doubling Inter’s lead with a first-time volley that bounced just wide.

However, Nerazzurri were punished for wasting their chances as Salzburg suddenly flooded forward and pulled the score back to 1-1. Without any pressure, Roko Šimić was allowed to bring a long ball under control and pass to Maurits Kjærgaard, who teed up Gloukh to curl an unstoppable first-time strike into the top corner.

Çalhanoğlu Keeps Composure to Send Inter Top

The scores weren’t equal for too much longer as Frattesi raced into the penalty area and was bundled to the ground by Strahinja Pavlović for an Inter penalty. Çalhanoğlu stepped up to take the spot-kick and fired a pinpoint penalty perfectly into the bottom corner to restore the Nerazzurri’s lead.

With momentum back in their favour, Inter appeared eager to take advantage and wrap up the points with a late third. The two wing backs almost delivered when Matteo Darmian’s powerful cross was headered towards goal by Augusto but Schlager clasped the attempt.

Inter tried to remain in the ascendency to see out the victory, but Salzburg were persistent. The visitor’s unwillingness to give up nearly led to another leveller as substitute Karim Konaté rose highest to meet a high cross but Sommer was equal to the effort again.

Yet the Salzburg comeback never came and Inter thought they had sealed the points with ten minutes remaining after (c) Lautaro Martínez tapped in Frattesi’s cross, only for the effort to be ruled out for offside.

Inevitably, Salzburg threw everything they had at Inter late on in an attempt to notch a late point. The hosts were able to hold on and saw out the win to head top of Group D after three matches.