Lautaro Martinez fires Inter Milan into Champions League last 16

By Sports Desk November 08, 2023

Inter Milan booked their place in the Champions League knockout stages with a dramatic 1-0 win away at RB Salzburg.

The in-form Lautaro Martinez came off the bench to secure the victory, netting from the penalty spot in the 85th minute to put the Italian side on 10 points in Group D, seven above their opponents.

Salzburg relied on the heroics of goalkeeper Alexander Schlager but they finally succumbed to Serie A leading scorer Martinez.

The hosts started strong and enjoyed touches in dangerous areas where they produced half chances through Roko Simic and Mads Bidstrup, whose 12th-minute shot failed to hit the target.

Inter were fortunate not to concede a penalty when Carlos Augusto appeared to bundle Simic to the ground from a corner but the referee did not award the hosts the spot-kick they searched for.

Inter went close after 35 minutes.

Set-piece specialist Hakan Calhanoglu stood over a free-kick and his whipped pass found the head of Alessandro Bastoni whose effort narrowly went wide.

Inter should have taken the lead on the stroke of half-time.

Marcus Thuram went forward and played a testing ball to Alexis Sanchez who acted quick and opted to pick out Davide Frattesi, but he blazed his effort over the bar.

Manager Simone Inzaghi cut a frustrated figure and must have motivated his men at half-time because they came out looking stronger in the second half.

In the 73rd minute they threatened again from a set-piece.

Federico Dimarco lined up the ball from a corner and delivered a perfect cross to Thuram who somehow failed to throw his head onto the ball inside the six-yard box.

Moments later Schlager saved Kristjan Asllani’s dipping long-range effort.

Inter’s players were up in arms when Thuram was denied a penalty in the 80th minute.

Substitute Martinez, who has 12 league goals to his name this term, glided with the ball and played in Thuram who took it around his marker before being brought down.

Inter’s appeals were waved off before Martinez’s header was sensationally tipped onto the bar by Schlager.

But Salzburg’s defence was finally breached when they conceded a penalty with five minutes remaining.

Nicolo Barella’s shot struck the arm of Bidstrup and Martinez stepped up to send Schlager the wrong way.

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