Inter Milan 1-0 Barcelona: Hakan Calhanoglu scores winner as Barca lose consecutive Champions League matches and fall back to third place in Group C
- Inter Milan defeated Barcelona 1-0 in Champions League win in San Siro
- Hakan Calhanoglu takes winner with 25-yard striker in injury time first half
- Barcelona saw Pedri’s second goal disallowed after VAR . violation
The shadow of the Europa League is once again looming over Barcelona after a 1-0 defeat at the San Siro to Inter Milan left them third behind Italians and league-leaders Bayern Munich with three games to go.
Xavi’s team has just three points from three games and will likely need to win at home against Inter next Wednesday to avoid failing the knockout stage of the Champions League for the second season in a row.
The Barca coach made five changes from the weekend’s win that put them at the top of La Liga, but saw his master plan collapse against physically superior Inter. They were also unlucky – a goal by Pedri was disallowed for an Ansu Fati handball and Denzel Dumfries appeared to have acted in stoppage time, but this time VAR failed to intervene.
Hakan Calhanoglu celebrates scoring the winner against Barcelona in the Champions League
A frustrated Xavi was shown a yellow card because the decisions were against him, but he will know that some of the responsibility for the defeat rests with him. A decision to play Marco Alonso high on the pitch as a forward left-back did Inter nothing, leaving Barcelona unprotected in the counter-attack.
It was a night when the summer signals didn’t sparkle. Like Alonso, Raphinha was below par and Robert Lewandowski struggled, starved of service.
Hakan Calhanoglu scored the goal in first-half stoppage time with a shot from the edge of the area that flashed past Sergio Busquets’ outing, beating Marc Andre ter Stegen.
The warning signs had come with Inter’s first chance – also a long haul from Calhanoglu overturning Ter Stegen.
Inter Milan (3-5-2): Onana 6; Skriniar 7, The Free 7 (Acerbi 71), Bastoni 7; Darmian 7 (Dumfries 77), Barella 7, Mikitharian 6, Calhanoglu 8 (Asllani 85), DiMarco 7 (Gosens 77); Lautaro 7, Correa 7 (56 Dzeko) 6.
Subs not used: Handanovic, Gagliardini, Bellanova, D’Ambrosio, Botis, Carboni, Zanotti
Scorers: Calhanoglu 45+2
Booked: Onana 96
Manager: Simone Inzaghi
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen 7; Sergio Roberto 6, Eric Garcia 6, Christensen 6 (Pique 58) 6, Marcos Alonso 5 (Balde 63) 6, Gavi 6 (Kessie 84), Busquets 6, Pedri 8; Raphinha 5 (Ansu Fati 63) 6, Lewandowski 6, Dembele 7
Subs not used: Torres, Alba, Sotorres, Casado, Torre, Tenas
Booked: Busquets 60
Barcelona briefly topped the game at the start of the game, winning three corners in the first 15 minutes, but halfway through the first half, Inter thought they’d been awarded a penalty when Eric Garcia fielded into the area.
They were saved because the offside flag was raised. A VAR review followed because, although Joaquin Correa was the wrong side of the last defender, the ball hit Eric Garcia’s arm off Andreas Christensen’s clearance. Correa was close enough to Christensen to be judged as meddling.
After that scare, Pedri threatened to take control of the game, but when he shot forward and Dembélé played on the right, the winger twisted and turned once too many before firing into the side net.
Inter players celebrate their win over Barcelona and are now second in their Champions League group behind league-leaders Bayern Munich
Correa scored for Inter, but was again offside when Pedri continued to dominate. He was knocked down by Matteo Darmian, who should have booked.
Ten minutes after the restart, Christensen stumbled away with blood seeping from an ankle and Gerard Pique came in on his way. Inter brought in Edin Dzeko for Correa. On the hour, Dembele hit the post with a shot as Barcelona stepped up their bid for the equalizer.
He found his reach and as he passed Federico Dimarco to the right and curled up a teasing cross, Barcelona thought they were even. André Onana came but never made a mistake and Pedri pushed the loose ball in.
The goal was judged and disallowed because the ball had touched substitute Fati’s hand as he came in to challenge Onana.
it was a frustrating night for Barcelona, who have now lost consecutive Champions League matches after losing to Bayern last time
Xavi protested against Slavko Vincic’s book and Barcelona was again 1-0 behind.
The referee was busier and busier. Calhanoglu was booked for a foul on Busquets that could have given him a red. Gavi was shown a yellow card for a verbal volley aimed at Matteo Darmian and Filippo Inzaghi was then cautioned for dissent.
When what appeared to be handball against Dumfries was ignored, Inter knew they were home and dry. Barcelona can make things right at home next week, but it won’t be easy without the injured Jules Kunde and Ronald Araujo.