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Champions League | Final
Jun 10, 2023 at 8pm UK
Etihad Stadium
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Inter Milan

Champions League: Inter Milan's road to the final

Sports Mole takes a closer look at Inter Milan's route to the Champions League final ahead of the showpiece occasion against Manchester City on Saturday.

Inter Milan travel to Istanbul on the hunt for a fourth Champions League crown when they face Manchester City in the final on Saturday.

The Ataturk Olympic Stadium awaits, as Italy faces England in a UEFA final for the second time this week.

Inter enter the final as big underdogs, but reaching this stage is testament to the quality of the side and the work done by manager Simone Inzaghi.

Here, Sports Mole takes a look at Inter's dramatic and impressive run to the final ahead of Saturday's showpiece occasion in Istanbul.


Inter Milan's Nicolo Barella celebrates scoring against Barcelona on October 12, 2022© Reuters

Despite starting and finishing the group stage with defeats to a Bayern Munich side who won all six matches in a devilishly difficult section, Inter held their nerve to progress ahead of Barcelona.

Beating Viktoria Plzen on matchday two meant the double-header on matchdays three and four against Barca became vital, and would almost certainly decide who finished second behind Bayern.

Hakan Calhanoglu's solitary strike at San Siro gave Inzaghi's side a vital victory in the first of the two meetings, before an absolute thriller at Camp Nou a week later.

In a breathless encounter, a 3-3 draw kept Inter in the ascendancy in the group, but it was a very nervy night in Catalonia, as the Nerazzurri fell behind, went 2-1 up, thought Robin Gosens had nicked an 89th-minute winner, were pegged back again, before Kristjan Asllani missed a sitter just moments after Robert Lewandowski's 92nd-minute equaliser.

Inter then just had to beat Plzen at home to seal progression with Barcelona losing 3-0 against Bayern, and after a very uncomfortable 35 minutes, they finally took the lead and would go on to thrash the Czech side 4-0.


Inter Milan's Hakan Calhanoglu in action with FC Porto's Otavio on February 22, 2023© Reuters

Inter's last 16 tie with Porto was an extremely cagey affair throughout the entire 180 minutes, and Romelu Lukaku's 86th-minute first-leg strike turned out to be the decisive moment in the tie.

With absolutely nothing to separate the two sides at San Siro, Otavio's red card for Porto with just over 10 minutes to play swung the pendulum in Inter's favour, and grabbing the goal was critical.

In the second leg, the days of Catenaccio were revisited as Inter's rearguard proved impenetrable, with Andre Onana in goal and Matteo Darmian especially in defence putting in heroic efforts to see their side over the line.

After restricting Porto to next-to-nothing for 95 minutes at the Estadio do Dragao, suddenly Ivan Marcano had an effort cleared off the line, Mehdi Taremi was denied by a combination of Onana and post before Marko Grujic looped a header of his own off the crossbar in a frenetic finish, but Inter survived to progress.


Inter Milan's Nicolo Barella celebrates scoring their first goal with Lautaro Martinez on April 11, 2023© Reuters

The quarter-final/semi-final draw revealed that one of Inter, Benfica, Napoli and AC Milan would be a Champions League finalist, placing even greater importance on what was already a huge occasion given the opportunity that Inter and Benfica especially were presented with.

While being the outsiders for the first leg in Lisbon, Inter were terrific again, with shades of the Porto performance showing once again, but this time they were able to give themselves a huge cushion ahead of the second leg at home.

Alessandro Bastoni's superb cross set up Nicolo Barella for the opener before Lukaku came off the bench to net from the penalty spot as Inter took a 2-0 lead back to Milan.

A stunning strike from Barella gave Inter an early lead in the second leg, but while many thought that was the tie over, Fredrik Aursnes silenced San Siro and gave the Interisti a slight fright before half-time by heading home an equaliser on the night.

However, Inzaghi's men would put the game beyond reach with Argentine duo Lautaro Martinez and Joaquin Correa both finding the net to put Inter 5-1 up in aggregate, as late goals from Antonio Silva and Petar Musa did earn Benfica a draw on the night, but Inter still went through in comfortable fashion.


Inter Milan's Lautaro Martinez celebrates scoring their first goal on May 13, 2023© Reuters

With Milan's somewhat surprising victory over Napoli, it set up a mouth-watering Derby della Madonnina semi-final - the first to occur in 20 years.

That semi-final was eventually abandoned due to crowd trouble with Milan progressing after taking a big lead, but this time it was Inter's turn to put Milan to the sword, and they did so very early on.

It took Edin Dzeko and Henrikh Mkhitaryan just 11 minutes to fire the Nerazzurri into a 2-0 lead in front of swathes of Rossoneri supporters, and that is how the first leg finished, as Milan simply never recovered from the shellshock suffered from such a disastrous start.

Stefano Pioli's men had a mountain to climb in the second leg in front of the Inter crowd, and they once again struggled to impose themselves on the fixture, as Martinez grabbed the 74th-minute winner which had the Inter faithful packing their bags for Istanbul, where Manchester City await.

Read more on Manchester City vs Inter Milan

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Inter Milan coach Simone Inzaghi on May 10, 2023
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Group A


Group B

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Group C

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Group D

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Group E

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Group F

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Group G

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Group H

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