19-time Italian Serie A champion Inter Milan finally ended their 12-year wait for another appearance in the UEFA Champions League Quarterfinal, after the Nerazzurri held Primeira Liga’s second-placed Porto to a goalless draw and through to the next round with a 1-0 aggregate score line. With this overall victory, Inter will join AC Milan as the second Italian team to reach the next knockout round of the competition, with red-hot Napoli likely to be the third, as it is more than cable of maintaining its 2-0 lead against Eintracht Frankfurt for the second leg of the round of 16 clash at home tomorrow.
Porto Could Not Break Down Inter’s Defence with Its 21 Shots
The home side rested several players for that Primeira Liga clash with Estoril Praia last Saturday for this UEFA Champions League tie. Six members from that starting line-up were replaced while Simone Inzaghi opted for five changes for his squad that was defeated by Spezia in the Serie A.
The home side got off to a good start in the game and kept pilling the pressure towards the visitors, but Cameroon national team goalkeeper André Onana ensured a firm presence for the away team. Despite managing a resounding 21 shots throughout the 90 minutes plus added time and hitting seven of those efforts toward the goal, Porto did not have a real chance, at least not until the final moments of the match.
In the 90+5 minute, 35-year-old veteran Spanish defender Iván Marcano had a chance to level thing up, but his close-ranged strike was blocked by Denzel Dumfries and the ball was eventually cleared away. About half a minute later, Mehdi Taremi had a free header but it was hit at the near post. Luck was definitely not at the Portuguese outfit’s side, as its next effort was headed towards the bar by Marko Grujić. Porto’s night went from bad to worse, when its right-back Pepê received a second yellow card a minute before the final whistle was blown, shattering all remaining hopes the home side had to equalise for the game.
For the first time since 2005-06, both Inter and Milan are in the Champions League quarters 🤝 pic.twitter.com/jW91AQQBzc
— B/R Football (@brfootball) March 14, 2023
Inter Advanced to the Quarterfinal for the First Time in 12 Years
Nerazzurri’s last appearance in the quarterfinal of the competition came in the 2010/2011 Season, where German Bundesliga 1’s Schalke 04 ended the blue and black team’s journey at the same stage. With this overall victory over Porto, Simone Inzaghi’s men ended a 12-year long wait and will now look forward to go a step further this season. It is also worth mentioning that this is the first time both Milan teams have gone through to this round of the competition since the 2005/2006 Season.
In the post-match conference, the 46-year-old Inzaghi hailed his team’s resilience and tenacity in the game, stating that it is everyone’s unity that helped Inter reach the next phase of the competition. He said: “We played a great game, the group came together and played a great match. [We were] excellent first half. In the last part of the match, we suffered all together – honour to this group. In football, luck counts relatively, [but] in the two legs, we deserved the passage to the quarter-finals. Now, it’s right to enjoy a feat that has been missing for a long time.”
Two former Manchester United men echoed their coach’s sentiments, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan saying “You can always dream, we want to do our best. It’s a good opportunity, Inter haven’t reached the quarter-finals for a long time, but we have to play with our heads” while Matteo Darmian mentioned that “We were able to suffer at the right times, and we brought home the result. An evening like tonight gives us so much confidence and awareness”.
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Inter Faces Juventus Next
The Nerazzurri will turn its focus to a Derby d’Italia against rival Juventus in the next Italian Serie A game at home while Porto will head to Braga for another Primeira Liga showdown. Once both teams are done with their domestic endeavours on the next matchday, they will be heading to an international break before any league or cup competitions can take place again.
In another UEFA Champions League match, Manchester City trashed RB Leipzig 7-0 at home to win the tie 8-1. The game saw City’s Norwegian striker Erling Haaland scored five goals and became the youngest player in Champions League history to reach 30 goals.