Inter Milan 1-1 Barcelona: A game of two halves
Inter Milan hosted Barcelona on matchday 4 of the Champions League group stage. The reverse fixture at Camp Nou saw a Messi-less Barcelona beat Inter comfortably, two goals to nil. Even on a rainy night, San Siro was absolutely buzzing. The match was a tale of two halves and that's how I've decided to describe it.
The ref blew his whistle and off we went. Inter opened the game with a sense of urgency and pounced on Barca defence right away. After the initial minutes, Inter seemed to have lost the concentration and started giving away the ball cheaply. Barcelona grew into the match and soon were dominating.
Dembele on the right wing was creating havoc. He was giving Asamoah and Stefan de Vrij all sorts of problem. Thirty minutes in and Barcelona were enjoying the majority of the possession. Inter occasionally broke through Icardi and Perisic but weren't troubling Ter Stegen at all. Luis Suarez looked way out of touch, lacking the lethality a number 9 should possess.
At halftime both the teams retracted back to their dressing rooms with no goals for either of them. Luis Suarez had several chances which a player of his calibre should have buried.
The second half picked up where the first half left. The only difference was that Barca became more intense in their attack. Coutinho came alive in the second half. The little Brazillian started exploiting his free role drifting in and out making it very hard for the defenders to mark him.
Late in the game, Inter noticed the gaps left by the Barca fullbacks and started creating some decent chances on the counter through the flanks. Politano was at the receiving end of some decent chances created by Perisic and Icardi; nothing came to fruition though.
The breakthrough finally occurred in the 83rd minute through the substitute, Malcom. Coutinho quickly transitioned the ball up the field attracting players towards him and then released the ball to Malcom who cleverly put it past Handanovic.
Not soon after in the 87th minute, the ball broke to Icardi inside the Barcelona box, and the striker managed to turn away before firing it in between Ter Stegen's leg into the back of the net. The ref blew the whistle for the final time, as it ended all square in Milan!
Barcelona and Inter Milan continue to occupy the first two slots respectively in Group B and it is likely to remain that way unless Tottenham pull off a major coup.