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Inter 1-0 Porto: Late Lukaku goal gives Nerazzurri advantage in Champions League round of 16 tie

Inter beat Porto 1-0 in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie thanks to a late goal from substitute Romelu Lukaku.

Highlights: Inter 1-0 Porto

A late red card for Porto's Otávio paved the way for substitute Romelu Lukaku to earn Inter a 1-0 lead after the opening instalment of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie.

Key moments

37': Galeno heads wide after Onana parries
: Diogo Costa keeps out Bastoni header
: Onana pulls off stunning double save
78: Otávio red card reduces Porto to ten men
86: Lukaku scores after initial header hits post

Match in brief: Keepers on top until Lukaku intervention

Alessandro Bastoni was denied by an exceptional save from Diogo Costa on the stroke of half-time
Alessandro Bastoni was denied by an exceptional save from Diogo Costa on the stroke of half-timeGetty Images

A tentative first half threw up limited chances for either side, with Lautaro Martínez spurning the first worthy of note when he headed Federico Dimarco's cross off target.

Galeno did likewise at the other end after André Onana had parried Marko Grujić's drilled shot, but an opener looked certain in added time only for Diogo Costa to pull off a superb reflex stop to deny Alessandro Bastoni.

Though Nicolò Barella flashed just wide of Costa's goal early in the second half, it was Onana who was busiest after the break. The Inter keeper first got down well to keep out Mehdi Taremi's effort and then pulled off an exceptional double save to thwart Zaidu and Taremi again.

As it happened: Inter 1-0 Porto

The Nerazzurri had 12 minutes to capitalise after Otávio was shown a second yellow card to reduce the visitors to ten men. Lukaku duly delivered with his second bite of the cherry, turning in the rebound after his initial header had come off the woodwork.

PlayStation® Player of the Match: Hakan Çalhanoğlu (Inter)

"All dangerous situations were created by him or came through him, even when his position changed slightly following the introduction of Brozović."UEFA Technical Observer panel

Player of the Match: Hakan Çalhanoğlu highlights

Paolo Menicucci, Inter reporter

Inter may have edged ahead late on, but the identity of the team which will progress from this tie remains very much in the balance. This was a tight affair and, make no mistake, Porto had probably the better chances before going down to ten men – Onana was inspired. Porto can certainly turn things around in front of their own passionate support, but Inter have already proved they have it in them to flourish on tricky away assignments – just ask Barcelona.

Luis Piedade, Porto reporter

Porto are down but not out. This was an even contest and the Dragons showed defensive prowess in the first half as well as an attacking threat in the second. Otávio's dismissal proved pivotal, however, on a night when luck was not on their side. But in three weeks' time, in front of their own fans, with a quarter-final place at stake, there's more than a chance.


Lukaku: 'We showed our quality'

Simone Inzaghi, Inter coach: "We played an excellent game against a physical and technical opponent. In the first half, we had to be faster in passing the ball. We had to build better and faster, but our opponents were ferociously pressing us. We had to raise the pace when circulating the ball."

Romelu Lukaku, Inter striker: "I've been through some complicated months and I'm happy to be available and help the team to achieve our goals. I'm happy with the win and we want to continue like this."

Hakan Çalhanoğlu, Player of the Match: "Winning against such a team isn't easy but thanks to Romelu and my team-mates, we did it. It's not over yet: a very difficult game awaits us in Portugal and we will do everything to win there, too."

Clarence Seedorf, Amazon Prime Video

"We're seeing some evidence among the Inter players that they have the right team spirit."

Diogo Costa, Porto goalkeeper: "When you give everything, it's painful losing like this. We showed our personality and we will do the same in the second game."

Pepe, Porto captain: "It's difficult to explain a defeat after what we did here. Congratulations to the team. We hope in the next game, with our supporters, to be able to come back."

Sérgio Conceição, Porto head coach: "We were at the level of this competition. It's half-time in the tie and we have another 90 minutes to play at Dragão."

Key stats

  • Porto were unbeaten in 22 matches (W19 D3), a run stretching back to October, prior to this defeat. They had also won ten in a row in all competitions.
  • Inter have kept seven clean sheets in 12 games in all competitions in 2023.
  • Inter had won the first leg in only one of their nine previous round of 16 ties (D4 L4). They had not scored in four of their last five round of 16 first legs.
  • Aged 39 years 361 days, Pepe became the third oldest outfield player to start a UEFA Champions League knockout stage match.

Fantasy star performers

Alessandro Bastoni – 7
André Onana – 7
Hakan Çalhanoğlu – 7


Inter: Onana; Škriniar (Dumfries 81), Acerbi, Bastoni; Darmian, Barella, Mkhitaryan (Brozović 72), Hakan Çalhanoğlu, Dimarco (Gosens 58); Martínez, Džeko (Lukaku 58)

Porto: Diogo Costa; João Mário (Borges 90+2), Pepe, Marcano, Zaidu; Otávio, Uribe, Grujić, Galeno (Evanilson 51); Taremi (Wendell 83), Pepê

What's next?

The second leg takes place at the Estádio do Dragão in Porto on 14 March (21:00 CET).

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