Celtic have always been known as a team that won't back down against tough challenges and who will fight tooth and nail to win matches, but this time their desire simply wasn't enough and they eventually surrendered to a more talented side.
Celtic 3 - Inter 3
Celtic FC proved, in the group stages, to have some defensive flaws with 11 goals conceded in 6 games (almost 2 every game) and Inter took advantage of that in this first match against them, with three goals scored, but what they couldn't do was playing the type of football they showed in the latest Serie A fixtures: possession of the ball with lots of short and accurate passes, especially in the attacking third. The Scottish were absolutely great in avoiding Mancini's squad to put it in practice, almost tying the Nerazzurri possession (Celtic 49.4% - Inter 50.6%) and allowing only 506 passes, with an 82% accuracy. One thing that surely oppressed Inter was the aggressiveness of the opponents, which committed 21 fouls while attempting 31 tackles with a success rate of 77%. This allowed them to make pressure on Inter and take advantage of the lack of defensive focus that characterize Inter lately, scoring two goals in quick succession in the first half and then a late, tying one.
Inter 1 - Celtic 0
The turning point (besides the scoring) of this match was obviously Van Dijk's sending off, which occurred in the 36th minute of the first half. Before that, even though the possession was all for Inter (58%), the game was pretty much in balance, with goal chances on both sides and Celtic being aggressive as usual, with 10 fouls committed and 10 successful tackles. After the ejection though, it was all Inter. The Nerazzurri had an astonishing 72% possession, 386 passes attempted and 354 successful (92% accuracy), with Davide Santon being the second best in passes made and the first best - of those who passed the ball at least 30 times - in passes accuracy (98%). Another great fact about this second half is that Inter players were very determined in their tackles, completing 14 of the 19 attempted (74%). What was a complete inversion of tendency from the last games, was the absolute ineptitude at scoring. It's true that their keeper, Gordon, made some great saves, but Inter shot only 7 times on target on 22 attempts and at the end of the 90 minutes Celtic's goal was violated only once, by a rocket shot from Fredy Guarin.
Overall Inter were better than the opponents in the aerial game: they won the battle with Celtic 38 to 12, even if height is not a quality our team can usually brag about.
One major change from the first to the second game was the efficiency at dribbling; in Scotland Celtic were better, being successful 15 times against Inter's 7, but in Italy the Nerazzurri were the best team with 14 successful dribbles against the opponents' 6.
Thanks to Whoscored.com for the stats.