After a 2-0 defeat at San Siro two weeks ago, Inter headed to England for the first time in the Champions League since a group stage 1-0 loss to Tottenham in 2018. Despite a solid showing, including a wonderful goal from Lautaro Martinez, Inter could not produce the additional goals that would have overturned their first leg deficit, ending Inter’s European exploits for the 2021-2022 season.
Jurgen Klopp, with the abundance of depth he has at his disposal, made two changes from the Liverpool side that took a 2-0 victory in the first leg of the tie. Harvey Elliott and Ibrahima Konate made way for Curtis Jones and Joel Matip.
Simone Inzaghi made just one change from the team that fell in the first leg, giving Alexis Sanchez his first Champions League start this season over Edin Dzeko, who deserved a rest after his brace against Salernitana. Arturo Vidal again took the place of the suspended Nicolo Barella.
LIVERPOOL (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson; Jones, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Jota, Mane.
INTER (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, de Vrij, Bastoni; Dumfries, Vidal, Brozovic, Calhanoglu, Perisic; Alexis, Lautaro.
Inter started the match brightly, getting forward much like they did early in the first leg. As validation to the positivity in which Inter started with, they recorded their first shot on goal in the tie with a shot from distance from Denzel Dumfries. While it was not the most dangerous of chances, finally getting a shot on goal indicated clear progress over the first matchup.
The two sides struggled to create much through the next phases of the half. A chance from van Dijk 15 minutes in fell harmlessly into Samir Handanovic’s arms while a much more dangerous from the head of his center back partner Matip rattled the crossbar after a good free kick delivery from Trent Alexander-Arnold after half an hour.
Five minutes from half, Dumfries won a free kick that Hakan Calhanoglu flashed dangerously across the front of Alisson Becker’s net but could only find the hands of the Liverpool goalkeeper.
After an extended amount of first half extra time, Alexander-Arnold narrowly missed putting in a free kick directly on Handanovic’s goal, ending a half that could have gone either way, but saw Inter stand resolute in defense and offer some threats in front of goal.
As the second half started, Danilo D’Ambrosio replaced Stefan de Vrij, who pulled up with a calf issue. Milan Skriniar shifted to the center of the back three while D’Ambrosio took his place on the right side. The veteran held his own against Sadio Mane for 45 minutes.
A deflected shot from Alexander-Arnold a couple of minutes in started the attacking chances for the half, but Handanovic was able to readjust to make the save. Liverpool were able to produce a much more dangerous chance after a few more minutes, as Handanovic came off his line to take a chance off of the foot of Diogo Jota. The ball fell at the feet of Mohamed Salah, who could only manage to hit the post with a gaping net in front of him.
On 58 minutes, Lautaro answered with a chance for Inter, but the ball from Brozovic got stuck under the feet of the Argentine, who scuffed his shot wide. Two minutes later, he more than made up for his scuff, as he picked up the ball from Alexis outside of the box and fired an inch perfect shot into the far corner of Alisson’s net, sending the away fans into a deafening roar and setting up a potentially historic final half hour.
LAUTARO. GOLAZO. GAME ON. pic.twitter.com/zVsKg1ZcFl— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) March 8, 2022
However, the hopes of an Inter comeback were all but extinguished when Alexis picked up his second yellow card of the match for a second studs-up tackle on a Liverpool midfielder just after kickoff from the goal. It may have been harsh, as the Chilean got the ball before his long follow through hit the leg of Fabinho, but nonetheless, the tie had been effectively ended.
Any hopes of an even more improbable comeback got even dimmer when an extremely fatigued Brozovic could not continue and had to be replaced by Roberto Gagliardini. Further subs in the half consisted of bringing on Joaquin Correa, Matteo Darmian, and Matias Vecino to give starters some rest as Inzaghi was forced to shift focus to Torino on the weekend.
From there, Liverpool pressed on for a few chances against the Inter reserves, but could not break through. Ultimately, Inter fell short on aggregate gutted out a 1-0 win to hand Liverpool their first home loss in just over a year, but possibly at the expense of two starters.
Handanovic - 6.5: Looked shaky when leaving his line on the chance from Jota and Salah, but kept a clean at Anfield in the knockout rounds of the Champions League, an accomplishment in itself.
Bastoni - 6.5: Had his hands full with Salah, but managed well for the most part. Nonetheless, a Champions League knockout match win for a 22 year old is great experience. Only up from here
de Vrij - 6.5: A decent first half, but went off with an injury at halftime. Hopefully his substitution was more of a precaution than anything.
Skriniar - 8 (MOTM): The big Slovakian was huge in both legs of this tie, stopping everyone and everything in front of him. Likely made Liverpool fans think of their own Slovakian defender of old, Martin Skrtel.
Perisic - 6.5: Did not have his way with Alexander-Arnold in the same fashion that he did in the first leg. Nonetheless, he got himself into dangerous positions when he did get forward.
Calhanoglu - 6.5: Got forward in between the Liverpool lines in attack, supporting Lautaro and Alexis on the break, but was not quite as dangerous as he was in the first leg. Good outing for the Turkish midfielder, though.
Brozovic - 7.5: Coped very well with Liverpool’s press in this match and imposed his will on the midfield. Could have had an assist for Lautaro just before the goal as well. Hopefully he will be fit for the Torino match, as we have seen in recent weeks what happens to this team without him.
Vidal - 6.5: One of his better performances in an Inter shirt. A bit reckless in the first half, but really put the clamps down on the Liverpool midfield and attack in the second half. Even saved a goal. This will be one of the matches Inter fans remember him for.
Dumfries - 6: Not his best match, as he seemed to be caught in two minds in both defense and attack. No big mistakes, though.
Alexis - 5.5: Inter’s biggest threat in attack before the goal from Lautaro, then Inter’s biggest enemy after play resumed from the goal. One too many reckless tackles got him sent off when he was lucky to still be on the pitch after leaving an entire footprint on Thiago’s leg in the first half. Oh, what could have been.
Lautaro - 6.5: Surprisingly, he did what we hoped he would do when the goalscoring impetus was handed to him after Romelu Lukaku’s departure. He scored a goal out of nothing to give Inter the advantage. A confident Lautaro means a flying Inter, which is good to see.
D’Ambrosio - 6.5: Came on at halftime and did what was asked of him. Go back to 2016 and tell this guy, who famously said he was “not Maicon”, that he would be handling defending against one of the best wingers on the planet. Everyone would call you crazy.
Gagliardini - 6.5: Had Brozovic not gone down, we may not have seen him in this match. Nonetheless, he put in a decent 15 minutes for his standards.
Correa - 6: Has a goal at Anfield against Liverpool in European competition, but just ran around with not much to do when he came on for Lautaro with the team down a man.
Darmain - 6: Gave Dumfries a rest late and did well in his place, but did not have much to do.
Vecino - N/A
Inzaghi - 8.5: Has proved over two legs that he can hang with the big boys of European football. His tactics and personnel were spot on and gave Klopp fits for 180 minutes. Give this guy a few more quality players and a few less deadweight bench fillers and he’ll be winning these ties and making deep runs on all fronts.
This win will be a building block for Inzaghi’s Inter, who now have until Sunday to prepare for another intense match against Ivan Juric’s Torino. Hopefully the squad keep their heads high after this win and can recover physically for a stiff test away in Serie A.
As always, Forza Inter!