Liverpool 0 - 1 Inter
Inter: Martinez 62’
The big pre-match news is that Thiago is back fit and ready for a big start on the biggest of stages. Joel Matip and Diogo Jota also make their returns to the starting XI, replacing Konaté and Diaz, respectively. Curtis Jones also gets a surprise start in the center of the park.
Liverpool come into tonight with a 2-goal cushion, and the Anfield advantage. Of course, it’ll still be a long 90 minutes (or possibly 120 minutes), and the Reds will have to be on their toes not to give Inter too much encouragement (i.e. by conceding an early first goal).
Inter start the match on the front foot, although it’s nothing too dangerous from a Liverpool perspective. When Liverpool have possession, they seem a little bit more cautious than usual, patiently moving the Inter defense from side to side instead of going straight for the killer ball.
The ref is letting a lot go, with the apparent singular exception of when Fabhinho is involved. The Brazilian midfielder has been called for two incredibly soft fouls, and it seems like an equally soft booking is more or less imminent.
Close! Joel Matip nearly opens the scoring with a header from a free kick. Unfortunately he can only manage to clang the effort off the crossbar.
In the closing minutes of the half it’s Inter’s chance to create something from a dangerous position for a free kick. Inter test Alisson, but the goalkeeper is quick to react and push it to safety.
Trent gets a good look at direct free kick just before the half, but pushes the effort just wide of goal. It’s a decent half from Liverpool, and a delightfully uneventful one at that. Although the hosts haven’t created much, they’ve also held Inter to an xG of just 0.10. Another half like that—or better—and the Reds will take their rightful place in the quarterfinals.
Five minutes into an already lively second half and it’s Mohamed Salah’s turn to hit the post after a mad scramble inside the box. Mo has been quiet so far today, but you’d expect him to slot that effort.
Goal. Suddenly a very uninteresting match became interesting, courtesy of a wonderstrike from Lautaro Martinez. Well. Game on, then.
RED! Alexis Sanchez, who already could’ve seen a straight red earlier for a nasty challenge on Thiago, got his second yellow and you have to say it was deserved after yet another out of control, studs-up challenge. The red comes just one minute after the opening goal.
Klopp responds to the new situation—down a goal and up a man—by bringing on captain Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita for Thiago and Curtis Jones.
Salah hits the post again! It was a fantastic run and pass from Sadio to pick out Mo, but it wasn’t to be. Please, Liverpool, I’m begging you to finish one of these chances!
With five minutes remaining in regular time, Klopp brings on Luis Diaz for Jota. And wouldn’t you know it, he also wanted to get in on this “missing a sitter” action!
Final Thoughts and Man of the Match
The ref mercifully blows his whistle after a frustrating night for the Reds, albeit one that sees them through to the quaterfinals. In the cold light of day this will be a match that Liverpool will be proud of. It was a mature, disciplined performance, with a scoreline that flattered the visitors (with the help of a top-notch strike from distance). It wasn’t a classic European Night at Anfield, but Liverpool are the deserved victors of the tie, even if they lost tonight’s battle.
Who was Liverpool’s Man of the Match vs. Inter Milan?
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Virgil van Dijk