MILAN – A draw rescued in added time, just like in Inter’s opening Champions League fixture last season: the Nerazzurri have begun their European journey with a home draw, as they did against Slavia Prague in 2019. Last year, it was Barella who drew Antonio Conte’s men level. This time, Romelu Lukaku took centre stage after also initially giving his side the lead.
It was a match that almost got away from Inter, despite the fact that Borussia Mönchengladbach only had two shots on target throughout, resulting in two goals. The Nerazzurri will no doubt be feeling regret, especially given how they controlled matters for most of tonight’s showdown. But there will also be a feeling of joy, with the team able to react after falling behind with six minutes left on the clock. Inter have kicked off their Champions League campaign with a 2-2 draw, with the other match in Group B finishing Real Madrid 2-3 Shakhtar Donetsk this evening.
The opening exchanges saw very little by way of clear goalscoring chances, with Rose’s tactical set-up ensuring that one-on-one battles were played out all over the park and preventing the Nerazzurri from finding any rhythm. Nevertheless, Inter were doing their best to break through, with Eriksen manoeuvring between the lines and Matteo Darmian, making his Inter debut, providing a particular threat with his movement down the right flank. From the very start of the match, the former Manchester United and Parma defender displayed a great understanding with his new teammates and was heavily involved in the team’s play. Following Perisic’s excellent cross, he headed over the bar as the Nerazzurri had the first sight of goal. Darmian was involved in another Inter chance with 21 minutes on the clock: the Italian pulled the ball back for Eriksen, whose shot was blocked by Kramer just in front of goal. Not only was the Dane looking lively, Lukaku suddenly sprung into life in the 41st minute, firing narrowly wide of the far post with his right foot. It was the final attempt of a first half where the away side failed to conjure up a single effort at goal.
The beginning of the second half was hectic from the get-go: four minutes in, Inter took the lead courtesy of a goal made from the efforts of many players. Vidal crossed the ball into the area, Lautaro headed it across goal, D’Ambrosio recovered the header and pulled it back for Darmian, whose right-footed shot was turned in by Lukaku. The 1-0 lead galvanised the Nerazzurri, and Darmian continued to create chances over and over again.
The German side barely mustered a reaction. So it was a surprise when, in the 63rd minute, Borussia equalised: Vidal's foul on Thura led to a penalty kick and a subsequent goal by Bensebaini. With the score tied at 1-1 and with Inter’s initial advantage wiped out, it was the Nerazzurri who suddenly seemed a bit tired and looked to have lost their competitive edge. To take the lead, all their hard work would have to be done again.
The team didn’t give up, but the fluidity of their attacks started to decrease when compared to the first hour of play. Nevertheless, the Nerazzurri continued to push forward and fashioned an incredible opportunity, a turning point in the match: a quick cross into the area by Darmian was met by Lautaro, who had made a brilliant run towards the front post. His right-footed volley clattered against the upright.
A brutal blow then came for Inter: Borussia broke through, and Hoffman went one-on-one with Handanovic and slid the ball under the goalkeeper to make it 1-2. A long VAR check concluded with confirmation of the goal, meaning Inter had just six minutes plus added time to regain their grip on the game.
However, like always, the Nerazzurri refused to back down: the siege began, with Darmian heading a brilliant effort on goal, only to be met with an equally fantastic save by Sommer. Kolarov then whipped in a corner, Bastoni jumped to head the ball on to a lurking Lukaku at the back post, who bundled the ball into net off his thigh.
The Nerazzurri kept pushing and, in the 96th minute, had the chance to get a winner, but Kolarov’s free kick hit the side netting having dipped over the wall. And so it finished a draw, and a bittersweet one at that: it's frustrating to only come away with a point, but we can be proud we got back in the game. Now, we look forward to Serie A, with our next game in the Champions League coming up after Saturday's trip to Genoa.
INTER 2-2 BORUSSIA M.
INTER (3-4-1-2): 1 Handanovic; 33 D'Ambrosio, 6 de Vrij, 11 Kolarov; 36 Darmian, 23 Barella, 22 Vidal, 14 Perisic (95 Bastoni 79'); 24 Eriksen (77 Brozovic 79'); 9 Lukaku, 7 Sanchez (10 Lautaro 46').
Substitutes: 27 Padelli, 35 Stankovic, 13 Ranocchia, 38 Boscolo Chio, 42 Moretti, 44 Nainggolan, 47 Squizzato, 99 Pinamonti.
Coach: Antonio Conte.
BORUSSIA MÖNCHENGLADBACH (4-2-3-1): 1 Sommer; 18 Lainer, 28 Ginter, 30 Elvedi, 25 Bensebaini; 6 Kramer, 32 Neuhaus; 23 J. Hoffman, 36 Embolo (7 Herrmann 75'), 10 Thuram (11 Wolf 95'); 14 Pléa (13 Stindl 90').
Substitutes: 21 Sippel, 31 Grün, 3 M. Lang, 16 Traoré, 17 Wendt, 24 Jantschke, 43 Reitz.
Goalscorers: 49' Lukaku (I), 63' Bensebaini pen. (BM), 84' Hoffman (BM), 91' Lukaku (I)
Bookings: D'Ambrosio (I), de Vrij (I), Kramer (BM), Handanovic (I)
Added time: 1' - 7'.
Assistants: van Roekel, Zeinstra.
Fourth Official: Lindhout.
VAR and VAR Assistant: Makkelie, de Vries.