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INTER MILAN 1-0 ATLETICO MADRID – MARK ARNAUTOVIC BREAKS ATLETI RESISTANCE AS INTER BATTLE TO FIRST-LEG LEAD

Marko Arnautovic of FC Internazionale celebrates with Lautaro Martinez after scoring their team's first goal during the UEFA Champions League 2023/24 round of 16 first leg match between FC Internazionale and Atletico Madrid

Marko Arnautovic enjoyed a turbulent 45 minutes after he came on for the injured Marcus Thuram at half-time of Inter Milan’s first-leg Champions League tie against Atletico Madrid. Arnautovic missed a hat-trick of chances before finally slamming home a second ball to give his team a narrow 1-0 lead over their Spanish opponents going into the second leg in Madrid.

Substitute Marko Arnautovic scored the only goal of a game his introduction changed as Inter Milan beat Atletico Madrid 1-0 in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last-16 tie.
After a sluggish first half, Inter were much improved and Arnautovic had two great chances soon after coming on at the break, but on both occasions the Austrian shot over from close range.
It was third time lucky for the forward however as he tucked home a 79th-minute rebound, with the chance stemming from an Atletico Madrid mix-up in the midfield.
Alvaro Morata returned from a knee problem for Atleti in the second half but was not at his best, while Antoine Griezmann exiting with an apparent injury of his own will be a concern.
Last season’s runners-up were good value for their victory but may feel they should have won by a wider margin, especially with a trip to the Metropolitano Stadium – where Diego Simeone’s team have lost just once this season – to come.
TALKING POINT – INZAGHI WINS BATTLE OF FORMER TEAMMATES ON TOUCHLINE
Simeone won the tactical battle in the first half, with Atletico limiting the runaway Serie A leaders to few chances. Inter could not play through or around them.
Simone Inzaghi’s introduction of Arnautovic at the break – albeit for an injured Marcus Thuram – proved inspired, with his movement giving Inter a level of creativity they had been lacking to that point.
Simeone responded, but then Inzaghi tweaked Inter’s set-up again and the addition of new wing-backs in particular pinned the visitors back, leading to more pressure and ultimately a mistake.
Inzaghi has won the first battle, but this is a two-legged tie so any metaphorical war is not yet won.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – MARKO ARNAUTOVIC (INTER MILAN)
Would you have liked him to be clinical? Yes. But Inter were a different, far more dangerous team with him on the field and Arnautovic’s perseverance paid off when he was in the right place at the right time, then applied a tidy finish.
PLAYER RATINGS
Inter Milan: Sommer 7, Darmian 6, Pavard 6, De Vrij 7, Bastoni 6, Dimarco 6, Barella 7, Calhanoglu 6, Mkhitaryan 5, Thuram 5, Martinez 5. Subs: Arnautovic 8, Augusto 6, Dumfries 7, Frattesi 6, Sanchez 6.
Atletico Madrid: Oblak 7, Molina 6, Witsel 6, Gimenenz 5, Hermoso 6, Lino 5, De Paul 6, Koke 5, Saul 5, Llorente 6, Griezmann 5. Subs: Savic 5, Morata 5, Reinildo 5, Barrios 5, Correa 5