MILAN (Reuters) – Forward Lautaro Martinez scored one goal and missed a second-half penalty as a lacklustre Inter Milan scraped their first win in their Champions League group by beating Borussia Dortmund 2-0 on Wednesday.
The Argentine broke the deadlock in the 22nd minute and missed a chance to score a second when his penalty was saved by Roman Buerki with eight minutes left. Antonio Candreva ended up making it 2-0 for Inter in the 89th minute.
Those efforts represented three of only four Inter shots on target, although that was twice as many their equally uninspiring Bundlesliga opponents could muster.
The result left the two teams level on four points from three games in Group F, three behind leaders Barcelona, but neither looked much of a threat to the competition’s top sides on this showing.
The only person who seemed genuinely excited by the game was Inter coach Antonio Conte who spent the match pacing around the technical area and ranting at his players in his usual style.
Conte was more than happy with the result, saying that his opposite number Lucien Favre had unexpectedly chosen to defend.
“These are three significant points,” he said. “Borussia Dortmund changed their system because they were afraid of our attack, contrary to what Favre said before the game.
“We had prepared for a different match but we did well to adapt and win. It was the only thing we could do to survive.”
The game’s first shot on target produced a goal in the 22nd minute as Stefan de Vrij played a long ball over the top of the Borussia defence which Martinez controlled on his chest before placing a low shot beyond the advancing Buerki.
Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic was called into action for the first time just before halftime as his fingertip save denied Jadon Sancho.
Handanovic also made a difficult stop from Julian Brandt’s awkward shot in the 64th minute and Inter also had to scramble the ball clear from another Sancho effort shortly afterwards.
One of the few bright spots for Inter was the performance of 17-year-old Sebastiano Esposito who livened up the midfield after coming on in the 62nd minute and won a penalty when he was tripped by Mats Hummels.
Unfortunately, the spot kick was wasted by Martinez whose shot was too close to Buerki and allowed the Swiss to save.
In the end, it did not matter as Borussia were caught on the break and Marcelo Brozovic slipped the ball to Candreva who ran on and finished confidently, slotting the ball past Buerki.
“We didn’t have lots of chances, but played rather well,” said Favre. “We waited patiently and avoided counter-attacks. We had a clear chance which we should have done better with.
“It was our plan to play a compact game and press them in the right moment. We cannot expect to have 10 chances against this team.”
(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Pritha Sarkar)