Inter Milan grab significant first leg victory over Benfica

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An encounter involving Benfica and Inter Milan that appeared like an encounter in limbo headed to Milan as the side from Italy came out victorious at the Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica in Portugal.

Benfica’s formation and line-up

The home side coached by Roger Schmidt lined-up in a 4-2-3-1 formation and the line-up went thus: Vlachodimos, Grimaldo, A. Silva, Morato, Gilberto, Florentino , Aursnes, Chiquinho, Mario, Ramos, R. Silva.

Line-up of Inter Milan and formation

Inter Milan tutored by Simone Inzaghi went with a 3-5-2 formation with Onana in goal, Acerbi, Bastoni, Darmian, Dumfries, Barella, Brozovic, Mkhitaryan, Dimarco, Martinez, and Dzeko completed the first 11.

The Liga Portugal league leaders, Benfica got the game underway and both sides for majority of the first 45 continued to size each other up, not giving any room for the opposition to wreak havoc. 

Benfica were dominant in the first 21 minutes of the clash as they had the larger of possession throughout that spell with 56.7% possession, they pinned Inter Milan into their own half dictating the direction they wanted the game to go. 

In the 16 minute of the game, Benfica has a great chance to go ahead after Grimaldo sent in a cross into the box with Dimarco trying to help his side defend but he sent an header into the direction of Rafa who fired a shot at goal but it went direct to Andre Onana who pushes it away. 

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Players of Inter Milan in ecstasy
Players of Inter Milan in ecstasy

6 minutes later, Antonio Silva picked up the games first yellow card after a late challenge on Martinez, his effort to get the ball was too heavy and he went through Lautaro Martinez. 

There were several other half chances that fell left, right and centre to both sides in the first 45 but none of the two teams had enough to go ahead in the first half. 

In the 33rd minute, Aursnes played a short pass to Grimaldo who ran through the left hand side before firing a shot from the edge of the 18-yard-box with the ball heading just wide. 

It ended level pegging at the interval with plenty to discuss and digest from both managers in the dressing room of either side.

How the second half ensued

The second half began with Inter Milan starting play and the away side rose up from their lackadaisical self in the first half. 

Marcelo Brozovic was yellow-carded, 10 minutes before the hour mark and he became the first player to get a yellow card after a foul on Rafa Silva.

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A minute later, Nicolo Barella opened the floodgates from a header in the box off a cross sent in by Alessandro Bastoni. 

And Inter Milan understood the assignment needed in the second half, seeing that they had a lead to protect. 

Simone Inzaghi introduced three substitutions in the 63rd minute with Romelu Lukaku replacing Edin Dzeko alongside Joaquin Correa coming in for Lautaro Martinez and Robin Gosens getting into the fray for Federico Dimarco. 

Benfica also made a change introducing David Neres for Florentino Luis.

Inter Milan saw another big chance in the 66th minute after Correa found Henrikh Mhykitaryan in the box and fired a shot from a tight angle but Vlachodimos responded quite nicely blocking his attempt. 

The three time UEFA Champions League Champions had a VAR check for a penalty in the 80th minute after a cross from Dumfries was blocked by the arm of Joao Mario. 

After a thorough look at the monitor, Micheal Oliver, the center referee for the game awarded a penalty to Inter Milan after confirming that Mario had his arm around his head when blocking the ball. 

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Big Rom sealed the victory for Inter Milan in Portugal
Big Rom sealed the victory for Inter Milan in Portugal

Romelu Lukaku converted a penalty to take Inter Milan two goals ahead of Benfica

Big Rom, Romelu Lukaku, afterwards stepped-up to double Inter Milan’s lead with a clinical penalty fired into the bottom corner. 

In the 82nd minute, Edin Dzeko was shown a yellow card for dissent, five minutes later Simone Inzaghi once again made another substitution as he brought on Danilo D’Ambrosio for Denzel Dumfries. 

Four minutes was added as additional time in the second 45 and in the first minute the away side seemingly intent on running down the clock introduced Stefan De Vrij for Alessandro Bastoni. 

On minute 94, Gonzalo Ramos could have halved the deficit with the last shot in the match after receiving a through-ball from Neres. 

The Portuguese ran down the left hand side of the 18-yard-box but his shot went direct at Cameroonian Andre Onana. 

It finished with Inter Milan excited at the result, as they travel back to Italy with a 2-0 goal lead over Benfica, the second leg of the clash would go down next Wednesday at the San Siro.

Match Highlights Below

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