Lautaro Martinez struck twice as Inter recovered from two goals down to beat Empoli 4-2 in a thrilling contest and climb above fierce rivals Milan at the top of Serie A.

Empoli had failed to win any of their previous nine away league games yet took the lead inside five minutes at San Siro through Andrea Pinamonti, who is on loan from Inter.

Inter were two goals behind when Kristjan Asllani fired in, but Martinez struck after ex-Milan man Simone Romagnoli had put into his own net to level up before half-time.

Martinez completed the comeback in the 64th minute and Alexis Sanchez added a late fourth as Inter moved one point above Milan, who travel to Hellas Verona on Sunday.

Pinamonti slid in to meet Szymon Zurkowski's cross and give Empoli an early lead, the striker proving true to his word by not celebrating the goal.

Asllani had a goal ruled out for an offside infringement but, after Inter had a penalty awarded and then ruled out by VAR, the youngster brilliantly controlled a pass and fired home.

But Romagnoli's own goal when trying to cut out Federico Dimarco's cross gave Inter hope and Martinez guided in a first-time shot five minutes later to wipe out Empoli's lead.

Martinez's second arrived following a sustained spell of Inter pressure, the Argentina striker volleying past Guglielmo Vicario after Riccardo Fiamozzi only half-cleared the ball.

Sanchez then added some gloss to the scoreline in added time when converting a pass from fellow substitute Edin Dzeko.

Manchester United reportedly have a clear runway to sign West Ham midfielder and England international Declan Rice in the upcoming transfer window.

Rice, 23, has emerged as one of England's brightest young talents after being released from Chelsea's youth setup back in 2014.

He is expected to command a transfer fee in excess of the £100million Jack Grealish was signed for by Manchester City in a British record – but United may not be engaged in a bidding war.

 

TOP STORY – RED DEVILS LOOM AS RICE'S SOLE ENGLISH SUITOR

ESPN are reporting that United will not be facing competition from fellow Premier League clubs in the pursuit of Rice.

Sources have allegedly claimed the goal is to make Rice into a "modern day version of [Paul] Ince", who helped ignite the rise of legendary boss Alex Ferguson with his arrival from West Ham in 1989.

City are said to be using their resources on Erling Haaland; Chelsea are hampered by their ownership situation and the need to replace Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Romelu Lukaku; and Liverpool would prefer to wait for Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham at a cheaper price.

Despite a lack of bidders to drive up Rice's price, West Ham are reportedly firm on their £100m-plus valuation.

 

ROUND-UP

– Everton would accept a £50m fee for Brazilian striker Richarlison, and are confident of getting such an offer, according to Football Insider.

– According to ESPN, Milan and Juventus are the leaders in the race to sign United's Jesse Lingard.

– Sport are reporting Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves has chosen Barcelona over Premier League clubs United and Arsenal.

– Lazio's Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is said to be for sale for a €80m price-tag, with Sky Sport claiming United and Paris Saint-Germain are the leading suitors.

Arsenal have renewed their interest in Inter striker Lautaro Martinez, per The Times. 

Inter bounced back from their shock defeat to Bologna with a 2-1 win away to Udinese that ensured Milan's lead at the Serie A summit was trimmed back to two points.

Stefano Pioli's side last week usurped Inter at the top of the table and then clinched a late 1-0 win over Fiorentina earlier on Sunday, but the Nerazzurri responded with a professional showing in Udine.

Ivan Perisic and Lautaro Martinez scored Inter's goals in the first half to give them a commanding lead, with the hosts offering little attacking threat.

The champions continued to dominate after the break without creating a great deal, and although Udinese pulled one back out of the blue through Ignacio Pussetto, Simone Inzaghi's side completed the job.

Inter looked sharp at the start and that translated to an early lead as Perisic met Federico Dimarco's corner delivery with a glancing header that beat Marco Silvestri at his near post.

The visitors looked to have wasted a chance to double their lead just past the half-hour mark when Martinez's close-range chip was saved by Silvestri, but Pablo Mari fouled Edin Dzeko as he attempted to convert on the rebound.

Martinez's subsequent penalty hit the post and then Silvestri before allowing the Argentinian a simple finish following up.

Clear-cut chances were more of a rarity in the second half until Udinese forced a tense finish through Pussetto, who bundled over the line after Samir Handanovic saved Gerard Deulofeu's free-kick after 72 minutes.

But Inter successfully protected their one-goal lead to seal three precious points in the title race.

Nicola Sansone scored a late winner as Inter relinquished their grasp on the Scudetto and failed to return to the Serie A summit after a 2-1 defeat at Bologna on Wednesday.

Milan regained top spot in the league with late victory at Lazio on Sunday and Inter made a good response in their game in hand at Stadio Renato Dall'Ara when Ivan Perisic struck after just three minutes.

Marko Arnautovic restored parity against his former side 25 minutes later, though, and Sansone profited from an Ionut Radu mistake with nine minutes remaining to seal an unlikely victory.

Defeat left Inter two points behind leaders Milan with four games left to play as the neighbours battle for the title.

Perisic blasted Inter into an early lead in expert fashion, nutmegging Musa Barrow before powering a left-footed thunderbolt into the top-right corner.

A stinging drive from Federico Dimarco tested Lukasz Skorupski, before Lautaro Martinez wastefully fired over a presentable rebound to double the lead.

Arnautovic then levelled things up by heading Barrow's left-wing cross into the bottom-right corner, while Denzel Dumfries spurned a headed chance from Perisic's centre at the other end.

Dimarco blazed over after the interval and twice tamely found Skorupski's hands when unmarked from the edge of the area, before the Bologna goalkeeper denied Milan Skriniar's goal-bound header.

Inzaghi sent on forwards Edin Dzeko and Alexis Sanchez in search of a late winner, but it was starting striker Martinez who headed over Hakan Calhanoglu's corner.

Radu then handed Bologna victory as he missed a simple Perisic pass backwards, with Sansone converting a simple tap in to punish the Inter goalkeeper.

What does it mean? Inter falter in Scudetto charge

Reigning champions Inter were unbeaten in 15 previous visits to Bologna in Serie A and dominated once more but were punished for failing to make their dominance pay against Miroslav Tanjga's side.

Indeed, the visitors fired 26 shots to Bologna's five, but the profligate nature of the Nerazzurri came back to haunt Simone Inzaghi's side. Inter will now have to rely on leaders Milan slipping up in their last four games to overturn the two-point deficit.

Awesome Arnautovic

Arnautovic came back to thwart his former side, with his first-half header dragging Bologna back into the contest.

The Austria international has scored 13 goals in Serie A this season, his highest tally in a single campaign across Europe's top five leagues.

Miserable Martinez

Martinez had scored four goals in three games across all competitions, including a Coppa Italia semi-final brace against Milan on Tuesday, but failed to leave his mark at Bologna.

The Argentina international squandered a great first-half opening, one of a game-high six shots he attempted, though the striker only found the target with one of those.

What's next?

Inter will look to respond in their title charge when they visit Udinese on Sunday, while Bologna travel to Roma on the same day.

Inter went back to the top of the Serie A table with a routine 3-1 win against Roma at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on Saturday.

Goals from Denzel Dumfries, Marcelo Brozovic and Lautaro Martinez took the Nerazzurri to victory, continuing their excellent record against the team from the Italian capital, despite a late strike from Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

It was not the result or performance that former Inter coach Jose Mourinho will have been looking for, with the defeat coming as a big blow to the Giallorossi's hopes of European qualification.

Simone Inzaghi will have been very pleased with what he saw from his team, who move a point ahead of Milan in the race for the Scudetto having played the same number of games, with their city rivals facing Lazio in Rome on Sunday.

Inter took the lead just before the half-hour mark as some neat play from the home side saw Hakan Calhanoglu play a through ball to Dumfries, who ran onto it like a striker to slide the opener past Rui Patricio.

It was 2-0 just 10 minutes later as Brozovic found himself on the left side of the penalty area, before cutting inside Gianluca Mancini and firing into the far top corner of the net.

The third arrived early in the second half as a neat ball from Nicolo Barella found Martinez, whose shot was parried behind for a corner, but the Argentine headed home the resulting outswinging delivery from Calhanoglu.

There was nearly a calamitous fourth as a cross from the right was helped back to Patricio by Rick Karsdorp, and realising he could not pick the ball up, the Portugal international urgently kicked the ball away before Joaquin Correa could take advantage.

Mkhitaryan fired in a consolation past Samir Handanovic from just inside the box with five minutes remaining but it was too little too late for the visitors.

What does it mean? Nerazzurri look good for title run-in

This was a surprisingly comfortable win for Inter, coming up against a Roma side that had not been beaten in 12 Serie A matches, the longest unbeaten streak for the Giallorossi in a single league campaign since May 2016 (17 under Luciano Spalletti).

However, the ease with which they took a two-goal lead allowed them to manage the game from there, and in truth the visitors gave them very few problems.

Inter remain unbeaten in their last 10 Serie A matches against Roma (W4 D6). The last side to reach 10 straight matches without defeat against them in the competition was Milan between 1988 and 1996 (17).

Title credentials on show again

When Inter were beaten 2-0 at home by Liverpool in the Champions League and then again by Sassuolo in the league in late February, things looked bleak for Inzaghi's side.

However, they have gone unbeaten in 11 games in all competitions since then, and have won their last five, sealing a place in the Coppa Italia final and top spot in Serie A, for now.

Inter a special problem for Mourinho

Returning to one of his former clubs where he enjoyed so much success was meant to be a pleasure for the self-proclaimed "special one", but it was yet another day of misery for him.

Mourinho took charge of Inter for 76 Serie A games between 2008 and 2010, averaging 2.2 points per game. After this defeat, the Nerazzurri are the only team against which the Portuguese has lost 100 per cent of his matches against (among sides he has faced more than once in the competition).

What’s next?

Inter travel to Bologna on Wednesday for more Serie A action, while Roma head to England to face Leicester City in their Europa Conference League semi-final first leg on Thursday.

Lautaro Martinez's superb double fired Inter into the Coppa Italia final against Milan on Tuesday, as they ran out 3-0 victors at San Siro.

The Argentina international kept the Nerazzurri on course for a potential domestic double, after a goalless first leg last month set up a winner-takes-all clash this week.

With the Supercoppa Italia already secured against Juventus and Milan merely two points ahead with a game out of hand, Inter could yet complete a clean sweep of domestic honours.

Simone Inzaghi claimed a maiden Derby della Madonnina win with the result, and his side will now wait to discover if they face holders Juventus or Fiorentina.

With defeat leaving Stefano Pioli and his side with just the Scudetto left to fight for, though, the stage is now set for a thrilling conclusion to the Serie A season too.

The whistle for kick-off had barely sounded before Inter struck, Martinez volleying Matteo Darmian's neat cross home near the penalty spot.

Such an early goal forced Milan onto the offensive, with Rafael Leao and Alexis Saelemaekers going closest in response.

Frenetic closing exchanges to the first half saw Ivan Perisic make a goal-saving clearance on the line, before the Nerazzurri scored effectively in the next passage.

Following Marcelo Brozovic's release in transition, Martinez dinked Joaquin Correa's throughball over Mike Maignan for a second to double the lead just before half-time, and it became a mountain for Milan to climb.

The Rossoneri continued to rally after the interval and critically had Ismael Bennacer's goal disallowed, with Pierre Kalulu ruled offside. From there the air went out of the game and when Martinez bowed out with 20 minutes to go, it felt like the game was already over, even before Robin Gosens slid home a third to seal the deal.

What does it mean? Inter move towards complete collection

After dethroning Juventus' decade-long hold on Serie A last term, the Nerazzurri now have the chance to take the Bianconeri's lone remaining honour from them after victory over Milan.

It is 11 years since they last reached the final, when they claimed a 3-1 victory over Palermo to lift the trophy - and Inzaghi, a prior winner in 2019 with Lazio, will have his eyes on repeating that success, whoever they face.

Martinez continues fast start streak

After airing his grievances over discussions about his future following victory against Spezia on Friday, it was another superb reminder of the Argentine's talents at San Siro.

It took him less than 200 seconds to break open the Milan defence - a speedy return that extends a streak that has seen him involved in the last three Derby della Madonnina goals scored during the opening five minutes.

Milan wayward once more in front of goal

For a team tucked into the thick of a battle for the Scudetto, it has been remarkable that not a single player has broken into double figures on the goalscorer charts this season in Serie A.

That has in part been to Milan boasting a wealth of players who can find the back of the net - except, that prowess deserted them on Tuesday, with Rafael Leao the only one of their squad to muster more than one shot on target.

What's next?

Inter will welcome Roma to San Siro for a crucial Serie A clash on Saturday, while Milan travel to the capital to face Lazio on Sunday.

Lautaro Martinez was very close to joining Barcelona from Inter Milan two years ago.

The Blaugrana and the Argentina international had reached a personal agreement, but the financial consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic scuppered any possibility for the former to make any transfer happen.

As ever, though, circumstances in football change and according to reports, they have changed in a way that would allow Barca to finally get the Martinez deal over the line.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA IN FRAME FOR LAUTARO

Barcelona are back in the running to sign Inter's Lautaro Martinez, according to reports from Sport.

The 24-year-old is increasingly likely to leave the reigning Serie A champions, but it appears the club would be willing to lower their asking price in exchange for players as part of a package deal.

Inter have shown interest in Miralem Pjanic and Memphis Depay, two players who appear to be surplus to requirements in a rebuild under Xavi at the Catalan giants.

Martinez, who has provided 15 goals and three assists in 28 league appearances this season, is seen as a more affordable alternative to Erling Haaland and Robert Lewandowski.

 

ROUND-UP

– Liverpool are eyeing Aberdeen right-back Calvin Ramsey to provide depth for Trent Alexander-Arnold, the Sun reports.

Paris Saint-Germain are ready to part ways with Mauricio Pochettino in order to hire Zinedine Zidane as their head coach, per Le Parisien.

– Corriere dello Sport is reporting Roma would consider an offer of €60million (£49.6m) for highly-rated 22-year-old Nicolo Zaniolo, as interest from Serie A and Premier League clubs looms.

– Juventus are prepared to offer for Chelsea's Jorginho, with the Turin giants seeking to bolster their midfield next season, according to Tuttosport.

– Chelsea are willing to let 28-year-old striker Romelu Lukaku go with Inter and PSG interested, per 90Min.

Lautaro Martinez admits he feels irritated by constant speculation over his Inter future, after the forward helped seal a 3-1 win over Spezia on Good Friday.

The Argentine struck in the second half to help confirm a crucial three points for the Serie A champions, moving them back to the summit – temporarily at least – ahead of rivals Milan.

Yet with his contract due to expire next year, talk over an impending exit has dogged Martinez for much of the season, with the striker starting on the bench at Stadio Alberto Picco.

Speaking afterwards, Martinez acknowledged that discussion over his next move is something that bugs him, alongside accusations that he has not put the effort in during the 2021-22 season.

"People talk a lot and I don’t like it," he said. "I’ve always given my best for Inter and I don’t like certain voices.

"I try to give my all, obviously I don’t like being on the bench, but when I entered I gave my all for Inter which is what counts here.

"I have always been calm, I work for the team, to lend a hand to my teammates, I am focused on my work and I don’t listen to everything they talk about.

"I think about my family, those who love me and Inter, so I always have to give my best."

Victory for Inter – though relatively unconvincing, despite overwhelming possession, and then given a late scare by a response from the hosts – keeps them in the thick of the title race.

It will give an extra charge to an already hot derby encounter with Milan when the two sides meet in the Coppa Italia semi-finals on Tuesday.

Martinez believes Simone Inzaghi's side looked to have turned a corner after dropping crucial points earlier in the new year, and stressed that their destiny is now of their own making.

"[We're] feeling good," he added. "We are doing a great job, we have lost some important points.

"We have now recovered and have everything in our hands. The path is still long, we have to recover and think about Tuesday."

Inter moved back to the summit of Serie A in the latest turn of an enthralling title race after they claimed a 3-1 win over Spezia.

The Nerazzurri threw down a gauntlet to rivals Milan as they deposed them at the top of the table thanks to goals from Marcelo Brozovic, Lautaro Martinez and Alexis Sanchez.

Simone Inzaghi's defending champions could well end the weekend back in second place, with their San Siro neighbours set to face Genoa later on Good Friday.

But victory at Stadio Alberto Picco at least means the Nerazzurri remain neck-and-neck, with a game in hand on the Rossoneri beyond this latest round ensuring destiny stays in their own hands.

In a game where opportunities were initially at a premium, it took almost 15 minutes for either side to register an attempt, with Denzel Dumfries heading wide.

But when Danilo D'Ambrosio headed down a looping cross near the edge of the box in the 31st minute, there was little stopping Brozovic's rasping drive into the top-left corner.

The visitors were not as clinically composed as they would have liked, however.

Nicolo Barella slid reaching for the ball past the hour to fumble a great chance for a second, while Dumfries blazed a subsequent low cross way over the crossbar.

But when Martinez flicked Ivan Perisic's cross beyond Ivan Provedel with just over a quarter-hour to play, Inter looked to be home and dry.

Giulio Maggiore fired home a response late on to set up a nervy final act, but the visitors restored the two-goal cushion in stoppage time, with Sanchez drilling a squared Martinez pass home.

 

Inter are firming as a likely destination for Paulo Dybala, as the end to his time at Juventus draws near.

The Argentina international has provided 96 goals and 51 assists in 265 league appearances for Juventus, but will not stay in an evident rebuild under Max Allegri.

While Dybala is set to leave after seven seasons in Turin, and after a near-move to Tottenham, it appears he might stay in Italy's Serie A after all.

 

TOP STORY – INTER CLOSE IN ON DYBALA

Inter are closing in on Paulo Dybala, whose contract at Juventus will expire at the end of the season, according to reports from La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The 28-year-old attacker has drifted out to the periphery for the Turin giants, ever since Cristiano Ronaldo's transfer, to the point where they are not willing to renew his contract.

Per the report however, Inter face potential stumbling blocks in fitting Dybala within their wage structure, with talks between the club and his representatives focused on bridging any gaps in expectations.

While Inter would seek to bring Dybala in next season, they are not in a capacity to offer a €6milliion salary, currently earned by Lautaro Martinez and Marcelo Brozovic.

Though Inter are unsure of Martinez's future at the San Siro, Alexis Sanchez falling out of favour under Simone Inzaghi could facilitate Dybala's addition.

 

ROUND-UP

– Juventus are keen to sign Roma's Nicolo Zaniolo, and are prepared to add Moise Kean as part of a package deal, according to Nicolo Schira.

Manchester United have reached a verbal agreement in principle for Erik ten Hag to leave Ajax and become their next manager, The Athletic is reporting.

Liverpool are prepared to make a £25million (€30m) offer for Torino's Gleison Bremer, per Tuttomercato.

Barcelona must be prepared to pay Juventus €100m in order to sign 22-year-old centre-back Matthijs de Ligt, Fichajes is reporting.

– Atletico Madrid are interested in signing Lautaro Martinez, with Inter setting a transfer price range of €70-80m, per Nicolo Schira.

James Maddison's importance to Leicester City is of little debate, but the Foxes are considering selling the playmaker.

Though the 25-year-old's sole senior England cap came in 2019, he has provided 13 goals and eight assists in 41 appearances across all competitions this season.

However, Maddison's sale might be required to facilitate the Foxes strengthening in other areas.

 

TOP STORY – MADDISON SALE TO FUND LEICESTER REVAMP

Leicester are weighing up the prospect of Maddison's sale in order to make new signings, the Daily Mail has reported.

Manager Brendan Rodgers wants three new additions to propel the Foxes up the Premier League following a season in which they have plateaued.

Leicester will reportedly back Rodgers, but the impact of coronavirus on their finances would likely mean outgoing as well as incoming transfers, and Maddison holds one of the higher market values at the club.

The 25-year-old's £50million price tag would provide serious flexibility in the transfer market, while the club also has to make decisions on Caglar Soyuncu and Youri Tielemans.

ROUND-UP

–  Barcelona want to confirm a contract extension for Ronald Araujo , who has received an offer from Manchester United, according to Sport, but the 23-year-old has viewed this club's pursuit of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen with caution.

–  Arsenal and Tottenham are keen to sign Lautaro Martinez , but Inter will only sell if they meet a transfer demand in excess of €80million (£67.3m), per Calciomercato.

– The Sun is reporting Newcastle are preparing a £20million offer for Brighton and Hove Albion goalkeeper Robert Sanchez, while also showing interest in Watford's Ismaila Sarr.

–  Manchester United target Manuel Akanji wants to leave Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season and is considering a move to the Premier League, according to Sport1.

Barcelona are reportedly too restricted by LaLiga financial rules to enter the race for the world's best players, even after inking a deal with Spotify worth up to $235million.

Xavi's side have gone from strength to strength recently, finding form and re-establishing Barcelona as a prime destination, with a number of strong signings rumoured to be heading to Camp Nou in the next transfer window.

While there may be interest in bringing in the biggest names in the world, Barcelona supporters will likely need to lower their expectations.

TOP STORY – BARCELONA OUT OF SALAH RACE

It was reported that Barcelona have interest in signing Liverpool's Mohamed Salah, but The Daily Mirror claims that it will not be possible due to LaLiga's financial rules.

Salah – who boasts 28 goals and 10 assists in 36 matches for Liverpool this season – is likely to fetch a price similar to Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, who Barcelona president Joan Laporta ruled out when talking with RAC 1, as well as Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe, due to the lofty figures.

While Barca may not be willing to fork out €100m for a single signing, they are rumoured to have agreed to terms with Robert Lewandowski, who could fetch up to €60m at 33 years old, as well as Franck Kessie and Cesar Azpilicueta, with further interest in Ajax's Antony and Manchester United's Paul Pogba.

ROUND-UP

– Borussia Dortmund are interested in signing Premier League strikers Timo Werner and Anthony Martial from Chelsea and Manchester United, according to 90Min.

– According to The Sun, Newcastle United are keen on signing Watford's Ismaila Sarr in the upcoming transfer window in a deal believed to be worth around £35m.

– Leeds United have placed an asking price of £67m on Brazilian winger Raphinha, per The Daily Mirror, with The Athletic also reporting that the club insists his only release clause is triggered if the Whites are relegated from the Premier League.

– Calciomercato is reporting that Arsenal and Atletico Madrid will be competing for the signature of Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez, with the Italian club said to be interested if the fee hits £58m.

– According to Mundo Deportivo, Paulo Dybala is interested in joining Atletico Madrid when his contract expires after this season, and while Inter also have interest, they would need to sell Martinez to do so.

Inter striker Lautaro Martinez will miss international duty with Argentina after testing positive for COVID-19.

Martinez was called up for Lionel Scaloni's squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifying fixtures against Venezuela and Ecuador.

But the 24-year-old will not feature after returning a positive test for coronavirus ahead of travelling to South America on Sunday.

Martinez will now serve a period of self-isolation in Italy and will hope to return to fitness for Inter's crunch trip to Juventus on April 3 in Serie A.

The Nerazzurri attacker has scored 14 times in 27 top-flight appearances this season, leading the club's scoring charts after finding the net once every 123 minutes on average.

Martinez, though, has just three goals in his last 11 league games – all of those coming in a hat-trick against Salernitana on March 3.

Indeed, he has been on somewhat of a barren run since the end of December, but he did end a 490-day wait for a Champions League goal with his sumptuous strike against Liverpool earlier this month.

Martinez will be hoping he can rediscover his form when Inter travel to Juve as Simone Inzaghi's side, who have played a game fewer, look to cut Serie A leaders Milan's six-point advantage over them.

Simone Inzaghi has "great regrets" following Inter's 2-1 aggregate defeat to Liverpool, but stands by his decision to not substitute Alexis Sanchez prior to the forward's sending off.

Inter trailed 2-0 heading into the Champions League last-16 second leg and were fortunate not to be further behind as Joel Matip and Mohamed Salah hit the frame of the goal.

However, Lautaro Martinez's superb 20-yard strike with just over an hour played changed the mood around Anfield and gave Inter serious hope of salvaging extra time.

Inter's prospects of staying in the competition were badly dented 107 seconds later, though, as Sanchez received a second yellow card for following through on Fabinho.

Former Arsenal and Manchester United forward Sanchez had been yellow carded late in the first half for a similar lunge on Thiago Alcantara.

Inter, who conceded late on to Roberto Firmino and Salah in the first leg, offered little attacking threat with 10 men and were lucky not to concede when Salah again hit the post.

Inzaghi is known for substituting players when they are at risk of being dismissed, but he did not feel the need to bring off Sanchez in what was an at times bad-tempered game.

"Absolutely not," he told Sky Sport Italia after his side's 1-0 win on the night.

"In general I am very careful, but at that moment I needed Sanchez on the field. I was not going to change him on an evening like this."

 

Sanchez is the first Inter player to see red in the knockout stages of the Champions League since Cristian Chivu against Schalke in 2011.

Inter boss Inzaghi did not comment on whether he felt the red card was harsh as he did not see the second foul, though he felt his side deserved more over the two legs.

“We feel upset about the fact we had a player sent off just when we were getting the upper hand in the game," he said of Sanchez's first dismissal in 64 games in the competition.

"There are certainly great regrets for us as we wanted to reach the last 16.

"But we were up against Liverpool, who along with Manchester City and Bayern Munich are the best team in Europe right now, and we fought them on an even keel.

"We are probably paying the price for the final 15 minutes of the first leg, because I think we had two very good games against an excellent opponent.

"I think the first 75 minutes saw us deserve far more, then we conceded on a corner, which wasn't even a good one, and the second goal really knocked us down.

"During our best period of the game and the worst for them, Alexis Sanchez was sent off, and that was bad timing.

"Over the two legs we showed we are equal to a really strong Liverpool team. We played well and I am more bitter about the game at San Siro than what happened in this game."

 

Martinez's goal was his first in the Champions League in 11 appearances since netting against Real Madrid in November 2020.

It proved to be nothing more than a consolation over the two legs, though it did earn the Italian champions a first win against Liverpool home or away since the 1964-65 season.

But at the end of 180 minutes, Martinez was left to rue Sanchez's red card at a pivotal moment in the game.

"We did what we wanted to by showing character," he said. "It was a pity to then go down to 10 men because these are the details that make the difference.

"All we can do now is look forward. We are out of the Champions League but still have the Coppa Italia and Serie A. We must learn from these mistakes."

Liverpool advanced to the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a 2-1 aggregate victory over 10-man Inter, despite losing 1-0 in Tuesday's second leg at Anfield.

Late goals from Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah in last month's first leg ensured the Reds were in control of the tie heading into the return fixture.

The hosts hit the frame of the goal through Joel Matip and Salah and looked under no threat until the point Lautaro Martinez fired in a stunning goal for Inter with an hour played.  

Alexis Sanchez was sent off 107 seconds later for a second yellow card, however, and it was Liverpool who went closest to scoring the next goal when Salah struck the post.

Thiago Alcantara and Matip returned to Liverpool's line-up and the latter picked out the crossbar from the best of Liverpool's limited first-half openings.

Milan Skriniar superbly blocked Virgil van Dijk's goal-bound header moments later, while Hakan Calhanoglu tested Alisson at the other end from a low free-kick.

Liverpool slowly started to turn the screw and should have been out of sight in the tie, only for Salah to fire against the upright after Diogo Jota was denied by Samir Handanovic.

Those wasted chances came back to haunt Jurgen Klopp's side when Martinez unleashed a swerving 20-yard shot into the top-right corner.

Sanchez, who received a yellow for a challenge on Thiago late in the first half, was sent off for following through on the same opponent almost immediately after Martinez's goal.

Liverpool were further frustrated as Salah's cushioned volley came back off the upright, but the hosts protected their one-goal aggregate lead to reach the last eight.

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