Inter Milan claim narrow lead in Champions League clash against Atletico Madrid

By Sports Desk February 20, 2024

A second-half goal from substitute Marko Arnautovic gave Inter Milan a 1-0 lead in their Champions League last-16 first leg contest against Atletico Madrid.

The former Stoke and West Ham forward delighted the majority of the San Siro crowd with his 79th-minute breakthrough on Tuesday evening.

And it proved enough for last season’s runners-up to take an advantage to the Spanish capital for next month’s second leg.

After the visitors had survived penalty appeals for handball by defender Nahuel Molina, Lautaro Martinez had the first chance of a tight first half but fired wide in the 36th minute.

Argentina international Martinez brought a save out of Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak four minutes later, following Nicolo Barella’s cross, then mishit an effort from the edge of the penalty box soon after.

Marcus Thuram, who appeared to get injured in the closing stages of the first half, was replaced by Arnautovic for the second 45 minutes.

There was frustration for the home fans when Arnautovic headed over, before shooting high off target soon after.

Martinez was then denied by Oblak, before Arnautovic got it right at the third attempt with the only goal of the game.

After Atletico substitute Reinildo and Rodrigo de Paul had dallied on the halfway line, Martinez advanced and saw his shot blocked by Oblak. However, it broke for Arnautovic and the Austria international tucked the ball away left-footed from the angle of the six-yard box, squeezing his shot past the goalkeeper and a backtracking Samuel Lino.

Atletico’s best chance of a goal came in the closing stages when Alvaro Morata glanced a header wide of Yann Sommer’s goal.

It proved a fitting outcome for Inter on an emotional night for the home fans, who paid tribute to Andreas Brehme before kick-off.

The former Germany international defender, whose death had been announced earlier in the day, played for the Nerazzurri between 1988 and 1992.

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