Inter pushed Liverpool all the way in their two-legged Champions League round of sixteen tie, but they paid for their naivety at this level.
This according to today’s print edition of Milan-based newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, who argue that the Nerazzurri came out second best in the most decisive moments despite going toe-to-toe with the Reds overall.
Inter felt renewed confidence that they could turn the tie around from a 2-0 first leg defeat when Lautaro Martinez scored the opener midway through the second half at Anfield yesterday, but this almost immediately evaporated.
A senseless second yellow card from forward Alexis Sanchez ensured that the home side were able to take the oxygen out of the Nerazzurri’s game with controlled possession.
Leading up to that moment, however, Inter will have had reason to believe that they could have deserved to go through, and Liverpool to believe that the tie was not as straightforward as they will have perhaps expected.
In the first leg, both teams had positive spells, but Inter will feel regret that they were profligate with the chances they created in their period of dominance in the opening stages of the second half.
This regret was compounded when they switched off from a corner to allow Liverpool the opener later on in the half, and then when a second set piece resulted in what proved to be the decisive goal in the tie.
The Nerazzurri travelled to Anfield knowing that they would have a mountain to climb against one of Europe’s elite at a hostile and atmospheric away ground.
The team’s performance suggested that they were up for it, however, as they pressed and imposed the tempo of the match from the first minute.
In the second half, just as the Reds were starting to come to grips with the match and look like seeing the tie out, Martinez found the opener with a well-taken strike from range to set Liverpool rocking.
Perhaps had the match finished eleven against eleven, the Nerazzurri could have made a convincing push to take the tie to extra time, or even to go on and win it in normal time with a rush of confidence from the opener.
Instead, a real moment of madness from Sanchez, who was arguably fortunate to still be on the pitch, ensured that the task was beyond Inter.
This rash moment from the experienced Sanchez capped off a tie in which Inter’s naivety was exposed by the 2019 winners of the competition on a number of occasion, whether it was the physical dominance of their defenders to put the strikers off or the clinical punishing of mistakes on set pieces.
In any event, the Nerazzurri will feel like they let themselves down with these moments over 180 minutes of football, but they will not feel that they were out of place against one of the best teams in the competition.