Romelu Lukaku broke the deadlock late in the game to help Inter Milan beat FC Porto in their Champions League Encounter on Wednesday night.
In the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 match at San Siro, Inter defeated a tenacious Porto thanks to a late goal from Lukaku, who came on as a substitute.
Otavio’s red card made it harder for Porto to frustrate the Serie A team, but Inter’s pressure eventually paid off when Lukaku, a second-half substitute, scored with four minutes left.
It was surprising that the first half of this game was so cagey considering how well-rounded both teams were going into it.
Lautaro Martinez had a chance to put Inter, who have only lost once in 13 games, ahead when he broke free at the far post, but he could only head Federico Dimarco’s cross over.
Porto, which was going for their tenth straight victory, got off to a slow start but came close to scoring when Andre Onana made a great save with his feet to save Marko Gruijic’s strong effort. Galeno then missed the target from the rebound.
After Matteo Darmian was brought down inside the box by Galeno’s pressure, the home team believed they had a good case for a penalty, but there was nothing that could be done.
Alessandro Bastoni forced Porto goalkeeper Diogo Costa to make a superb reflex save right before the break.
Barella’s agonizingly wide shot and Inter goalkeeper Onana’s consecutive saves to stop Zaidu and Taremi at the other end kept the action intense into the second half.
In an effort to score as time expired, the Nerazzurri introduced Lukaku from the bench. The Belgian international made an immediate impact, creating an opportunity for Barella, who missed the target.
Otavio, a midfielder, was dismissed for his second caution, which made Porto’s task more challenging. The visitors would pay dearly when Lukaku’s injury-time strike gave Inter the advantage.
He kept his composure to tap in the rebound after Denzel Dumfries’ cross hit the post, ensuring Inter would carry a slim advantage to Portugal for the second leg on March 14.
How Romelu Lukaku Is Faring In Milan
After his return to San Siro, things haven’t exactly gone according to plan for Lukaku, as injuries have limited him to just 13 appearances so far this season.
But, despite questions about his fitness, the 29-year-old is demonstrating he is still the man for the big moments with two goals in his past 40 minutes of Champions League play.
Lukaku was forced to wait to make an impression after being picked as a replacement; Edin Dzeko was chosen instead.
While Lukaku was immediately involved with his build-up play and provided the crucial moment, the Bosnian failed to have an impact on the game.
The fact that Otavio was given a red card undoubtedly helped Inter, and Porto head coach Sergio Conceiceo will be furious with his striker for his ignorance.
Inter must now be considered the favorites to advance to the quarterfinals of the Champions League for the first time since 2011. But, there is still a long way to go in the competition.