“Soccer can be unfair” is one of the most frequently said phrases when a team loses while being superior or showing better qualities than its rival. That phrase, misleading, hides behind it the most important law of this sport: the one who scores wins. And today Liverpool knew how to resist in the moments of pressure and hit hard in Milan, against Simone Inzaghi’s Inter.
However, there is a certain feeling that the Italians were severely punished, as they dominated the second half (until the last quarter of the game) and had the best chances to score in the first half. A shot from Turkish Calhanoglu, in fact, warned Klopp’s side that they would have to push hard to get a good result.
For Inzaghi’s side, the midfield trio of Vidal, Calhanoglu and Brozovic — Inter’s star player and almost of the pitch — managed to overcome Fabinho, Thiago and Elliott. Dumfries and Perisic — another great performer — made Robertson and Arnold worry more about defending than attacking; and at the back, Skriniar, Bastoni and de Vrij were there to hold off every burst from the visitors’ attack throughout the ninety minutes.
Liverpool, on the other hand, resisted with the monumental van Dijk and Konaté; able not only to dry Martinez and Dzeko, but also to contain the approaches of an Inter that came out overwhelming after the break.
At the moment of greatest Nerazzurri dominance, just when Inter were entering the realm of having to score before losing their chance to win it, Klopp rectified the silent mistake of taking Jota off for Firmino, sacrificing the overmatched Elliott and Fabinho, giving Henderson and Keita the chance to come on. Colombian Luis Diaz, also key to changing the dynamic of the match, replaced Sadio Mané, who came up against an imposing Skriniar.
The entry of Firmino to shadow Brozovic had worsened Liverpool, who lost pressing and strength up front without Jota. However, in Champions League matches, not one, but several games are played within the ninety minutes. And Firmino’s poor performance would soon come to an end.
Liverpool and the ability to strike
If Inter can reproach themselves for anything today, apart from their lack of striking, it was the silly and unnecessary sending off of Barella in Madrid, in the last match of the group stage. Inzaghi’s team was recycled today; with only one change of European level (Alexis Sanchez) and against a team that has one of the most complete line-ups in Europe.
After the 70th minute, Liverpool took the step forward, Diaz had already warned that he would be a bigger nuisance than Mané as soon as he came on; and Thiago Alcantara grew in performance with Henderson much more present than Fabinho. With the game on level terms and heading into the final whistle, Firmino anticipated a corner kick taken by Robertson from the right. A beautiful technical gesture, winning the duel with Bastoni and leaving Handanovic with no chance. The Brazilian went from discreet to savior in a single action. Striker stuff.
Eight minutes later, in the 83rd minute, it was Salah who caught a ball in the italian penalty area; his weak shot deflected off one of Brozovic’s legs and went tamely into the goal defended by Handanovic, who once again saw his goal breached with the frustration of not being able to do anything about it.
That was how a brave Inter was beaten by Liverpool, the strongest team and candidate to lift the European Cup. In short, the Champions League, like any other short competition, is not about playing better and showing superiority, but about translating it to the scoreboard. Knowing how to resist, being effective and having a large squad that allows you to adapt and compete in different circumstances. Because in these matches, what changes the most is the development.