Inzaghi applauds Inter's 'special' Champions League progression

By Sports Desk October 26, 2022

Simone Inzaghi believes Inter have achieved "something special" by qualifying from a Champions League group that also contained Bayern Munich and Barcelona.

Inter thrashed Viktoria Plzen 4-0 in San Siro on Wednesday to confirm their place in the last 16, with the victory putting them out of Barcelona's reach.

When the draw was made, most felt Inter were the outsiders with Bayern and big-spending Barca expected to go through.

But Inter took four points from two games against the Blaugrana, results that ultimately proved crucial in beating Xavi's men to qualification.

Inter secured their progress with a match to spare, leaving Inzaghi elated with an achievement that he feels goes beyond his previous expectations.

"To achieve this goal, the first of the season, we had to do something special and we did it," he told Amazon Prime.

"We have grown from game to game. The opener with Bayern was tough but then we had a double-header with Barcelona that gave us a lot of belief. We are happy for the club and for our fans.

"There was hope. We knew we had ended up in a very difficult group because Barcelona and Bayern are very strong.

"We went beyond expectations, qualifying with a game to go. You have to give the boys a big round of applause."

Romelu Lukaku's goalscoring return from injury was the icing on the cake for Inter, who were already 3-0 up when the Belgian came on in the 83rd minute.

Lukaku – who had been out for two months – scored four minutes after his introduction, and Inzaghi is hopeful of Marcelo Brozovic following the striker in coming back into the fold very soon.

"He's doing great," Inzaghi said of Brozovic, who has been absent for a month with a thigh injury.

"Playing every three days, we need everyone. Now Lukaku is back, we'll try to include Brozovic in the next few days.

"We missed them in this period because when you play every three days you must have the possibility to change personnel."

Related items

  • Owen gives Bellingham 'massive chance' of Ballon d'Or success Owen gives Bellingham 'massive chance' of Ballon d'Or success

    Michael Owen believes Jude Bellingham has a "massive chance" of winning the Ballon d'Or after a stand-out debut season at Real Madrid.

    Los Blancos won their 36th LaLiga title, losing just one of their league games while finishing 10 points clear of second-place Barcelona.

    Bellingham ended the league campaign as Madrid’s top-scorer, netting 19 LaLiga goals and added another four in the Champions League to help them on their way to the final.

    The attacking-midfielder has also created more chances under pressure (19) than any other midfielder in the Champions League, with four of those resulting in an assist for a Madrid teammate.

    Bellingham is due to join up with England for Euro 2024 following the Champions League final as the Three Lions aim to win their first major trophy since 1966.

    Bellingham is among the favourites to get his hands on the Ballon d'Or and would be the first Englishman to win it since Owen himself in 2001.

    "The Ballon d'Or comes to players who have an exceptional season, not only personally, but who have had a season where they have won something or multiple titles," Owen told TNT Sports.

    "If Jude Bellingham goes and wins LaLiga, which he already has done, as well as the Champions League all while being one of the stars of the show in that team, then he has got to be in the conversation.

    "A lot will depend on Euro 2024 with England. If he has a good tournament and England go far, then you could rightly say that he has a massive chance."

    Bellingham will face former club Borussia Dortmund at Wembley on Saturday as Madrid aim to lift a record-extending 15th title in the European Cup.

  • Mitrovic clinches last-gasp success for Saudi Pro League champions Al-Hilal Mitrovic clinches last-gasp success for Saudi Pro League champions Al-Hilal

    Aleksandar Mitrovic produced a last-gasp winner for Al-Hilal as the Saudi Pro League champions signed off with a dramatic 2-1 victory over Al-Wedha on Monday.

    Jorge Jesus' side finished the league campaign unbeaten across the 34-game season, though needed late heroics from top scorer Mitrovic to snatch all three points.

    Mohamed Kanno opened the scoring for the visiting champions in the first half but Yahya Naji's second-half leveller pegged Al-Hilal back at King Abdulaziz Sports City Stadium.

    Yet Mitrovic provided the decisive moment in the 92nd minute, converting a Mohammed Al Burayk assist for his 28th league goal of the season.

    The Serbia international ranks only behind Cristiano Ronaldo in this campaign's scoring charts, after the Al-Nassr forward claimed a piece of Saudi League history in a 4-2 victory over Al-Ittihad.

    Ronaldo moved past Abderrazak Hamdallah's 34-goal tally – in the 2018-19 season – after his deadly double took him to 35 strikes and broke the single-season scoring record in the competition.

    Victory for Al-Nassr means they finish second behind the impressive Al-Hilal, while Al-Ahli had already secured third in the standings before their 1-0 victory over Al-Fayha.

    Roberto Firmino scored the only goal of the game in that narrow triumph, finding the net after 85 minutes at Prince Abdullah al-Faisal Stadium.

    At the other end of the table, Abha Club – who had Marcel Tisserand sent off late on – suffered heartbreak on the final day after losing 2-1 to bottom-placed Al-Hazem to seal their relegation.

    Ahmed Abdu opened the scoring to boost Abha's survival hopes but second-half goals from Muhammed Badamosi and Mohammed Al Thani proved their undoing.

    Al-Akhoud beat the drop after overcoming Al-Tai, who went down with Abha and Al-Hazem, 2-0 thanks to goals from Saviour Godwin and Leandre Tawamba at Prince Abdul Aziz bin Musa'ed Stadium.

  • Al-Nassr 4-2 Al-Ittihad: Ronaldo breaks Saudi Pro League scoring record in final-day win Al-Nassr 4-2 Al-Ittihad: Ronaldo breaks Saudi Pro League scoring record in final-day win

    Cristiano Ronaldo claimed a piece of Saudi Pro League history after scoring twice in Al-Nassr's 4-2 final-day victory over 10-man Al-Ittihad on Monday.

    The five-time Ballon d'Or winner was on target in either half at Al Awal Park, moving to 35 goals across the 2023-24 league campaign in Saudi Arabia.

    Ronaldo opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time after receiving a long ball from Mohammed Al-Fatil, before doubling his tally – and Al-Nassr's lead – with a header from Marcelo Brozovic's corner.

    That second finish after Suwailem Al Manhali was dismissed for the visitors saw Ronaldo eclipse Abderrazak Hamdallah's 34-goal tally – in the 2018-19 season – for the most strikes in a single campaign.

    Abdulrahman Ghareeb then added another from the penalty spot before Meshari Al Nemer made sure of three points after late goals from Farhah Al Shamrani and Fabinho had pulled Al-Ittihad back into contention.

    Having already been unable to stop Al-Hilal secure the title, Al-Nassr finish second in the table – ending on 82 points after 26 wins from the 34-match campaign.

    Data Debrief: Al-Nassr dominance pays off

    Much will be made of the record-breaking Ronaldo, who has scored 50 goals in as many games across all competitions this season.

    Yet Al-Nassr were dominant from the off in this one, mustering nine shots on target to Al-Ittihad's three, while accumulating 2.73 expected goals (xG) – far superior to the visitors' 1.43 xG.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.