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Inter see off Slavia to keep last-16 hopes alive

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By Reuters
Inter see off Slavia to keep last-16 hopes alive
Soccer Football - Champions League - Group F - SK Slavia Prague v Inter Milan - Eden Arena, Prague, Czech Republic - November 27, 2019 Inter Milan players pose for a team group photo before the match REUTERS/David W Cerny   -   Copyright  DAVID W CERNY(Reuters)

PRAGUE (Reuters) – Lautaro Martinez scored twice and Romelu Lukaku struck his 250th career goal as Inter Milan left it late to win 3-1 at Slavia Prague on Wednesday and stay in contention for a place in the Champions League last 16.

Martinez put Inter ahead in the 19th minute, the fourth consecutive Champions League match in which the Argentine international has scored, after linking with Lukaku who beat two Slavia defenders on the right side of the box.

The two swapped roles in the 35th minute and Lukaku thought he had scored on the counter-attack only for the video assistant referee to rule there had been a foul at the other end moments earlier.

So, instead, Slavia were awarded a penalty for a trip on Peter Olayinka by Stefan de Vrij and captain Tomas Soucek scored from the spot.

Inter, twice denied by the woodwork in the second half, finally broke through in the last 10 minutes when Lukaku shot into an empty net after his marker slipped. The Belgian’s landmark goal was his first in the Champions League for Inter.

Martinez then wrapped up victory for the Italian side in the 89th minute, volleying home after more fine work by Inter’s record signing Lukaku.

“We improved a lot compared to the first match against Slavia. The two forwards, especially, played a great game tonight,” Inter manager Antonio Conte told reporters.

“We had only one result to keep our chances alive and we did it. We know we will have to face a great team like Barcelona (in the final group game at the San Siro) but we will have 80,000 fans there to push us.”

Barcelona lead Group F on 11 points after beating Borussia Dortmund 3-1 and have qualified for the last 16. Inter and Dortmund are level on seven points with Slavia bottom on two.

(Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Ian Chadband)