Inter 1-0 Barcelona: Calhanoglu strike moves Nerazzurri up to second
Inter eased the pressure on under-fire head coach Simone Inzaghi with a victory over Barcelona that could prove to be crucial.FotMob - 8 months ago
A brilliant strike from Hakan Calhanoglu gave Inter a 1-0 Champions League win over Barcelona that moved them into second place in Group C.
The Nerazzurri had already seen a goal disallowed before Calhanoglu fired past Marc-Andre ter Stegen in first-half added time at San Siro on Tuesday.
The LaLiga leaders improved in the second period and saw a goal of their own ruled out when Pedri's tap-in was ruled out for an Ansu Fati handball.
But despite some late pressure and a penalty shout for Barca, under-fire Simone Inzaghi's men held on to earn three points which put them above the Catalan giants.
Inter thought they had a penalty when Joaquin Correa's flick came off Eric Garcia's arm, but after referee Slavko Vincic took a look at the pitchside monitor, Lautaro Martinez was deemed to be marginally offside in the build-up.
Correa then had a goal disallowed, showing great composure to take it around Ter Stegen and finish, only to watch the linesman's flag go up before he could celebrate.
Calhanoglu broke the deadlock for Inter with a superb strike in first-half injury time, taking a touch to control Federico Dimarco's pass before rifling into the bottom-left corner from 25 yards out.
Ousmane Dembele nearly levelled when his drive from a tight angle came back off the left post as Barcelona pressed after the interval.
Xavi's men then had a goal chalked off, as Dembele's cross caused havoc in the Inter box before Pedri applied the finish, but only after Andre Onana had tipped the ball onto Fati's hand.
There were strong claims for a Barcelona penalty in stoppage time when the ball appeared to come off Denzel Dumfries' arm, but no spot-kick was awarded following a VAR check and Inter clung on for three precious points.
What does it mean? Relief for Inzaghi
In a tight affair, the Nerazzurri did just enough to see off Barca, who had 71.6 per cent of the possession and piled the pressure in the closing stages without reward.
Barca had an xG of 0.47 to the hosts' 0.18, but Inter will not care after they moved three points ahead of the Catalan giants and three behind leaders Bayern Munich with three games to play.
Calhanoglu's winning goal will grab the headlines, but his overall performance was also very impressive.
The midfielder led his team in successful passes (32) and touches (52), while also making the third-most tackles (3) as he showed he can play a key role at both ends of the pitch.
Robert Lewandowski has been outstanding since his arrival from Bayern, scoring a hat-trick in his first Champions League game for the club against Viktoria Plzen. However, he struggled to make an impact in this match.
His only shot was a long-range effort that was easily saved by Onana, and he also won just 25 per cent of his duels as Inter's defence kept him very quiet.
Key Opta facts:
- Inter have ended a run of five Champions League games against Barcelona without a win (D1 L4), with their victory against them at the semi-final stage back in April 2010 (3-1).
- Barca failed to score for the first time in eight Champions League matches against Inter, since a goalless draw in September 2009.
- Inter have won six of their last nine Champions League games, as many victories as in their previous 24 matches in the competition.
- Xavi has become the first Barca boss to lose his first three Champions League away games in charge of the club.
Both teams are back in domestic action at the weekend, with Inter travelling to Sassuolo on Saturday and Barcelona hosting Celta Vigo the day after.