In what could be perceived as a letdown after an emotional, dominant win in the Derby della Madonnina over the weekend, Inter were able to find a late goal from Lautaro Martinez sending them home with one fortunate point. The heavily rotated lineup struggled mightily throughout the match until a series of second half substitutions reinvigorated Simone Inzaghi’s side for a late surge.
“We were good at holding on to the match against a team of absolute value,” the Inter manager explained in the post-match press conference. “We knew it and we had prepared it well in recent days. We conceded an avoidable goal, we did well also thanks to our goalkeeper who stayed in the game. I had the feeling that we could even win, but Real Sociedad did better than us.”
That avoidable goal came from a turnover by the usually reliable Alessandro Bastoni who lost the ball to Brais Méndez. The midfielder then sent a strike past Yann Sommer at just the 5 minute mark. There had already been several threats even before the early goal including a Méndez header in the third minute and Ander Barrenetxea striking the crossbar just 30 seconds later. This pressure on Sommer and the Inter defense continued throughout the first half. They were lucky not concede several more goals.
The Nerazzurri coach highlighted the quality of his Spanish opponents. “They were very good, we did our part,” he explained. “In football sometimes you have to compliment your opponents, they are an intense and organized team, they have 3-4 very, very important players.”
La Real extended their dominance into the start of the second half as Inter goalkeeper was needed to make two acrobatic saves in the 48th minute, first from a Méndez free kick and again from a corner set piece.
“We were lucky to stay in the game,” said Davide Frattesi who later entered the match as a substitute. “We have a lot of players who have gone to the national team, they travel. That’s okay, we spent a lot of energy in the derby.”
Inzaghi made that set of decisive substitutions at the 55th minute by bringing on Frattesi, Marcus Thuram and Federico DiMarco.
The fresh legs allowed the Nerazzurri to take more control of the game and attack Real Sociedad in their own final third.
There was a red card scare at the 65th minute as referee Michael Oliver sent off Nicolo Barella for allegedly stepping on Mendez. After a VAR review, the red card was rescinded as a closer look showed the Italian midfielder had only locked legs with his Spanish counterpart.
With their full lineup left intact, the Nerazzurri continued to work their way back into the match while meeting fierce resistance from the Txuri-Urdinak along the way. But a goal finally did come at the 87th minute thanks to the reliable captain Lautaro as he took a pass from Frattesi and smashed it over goalkeeper Álex Remiro who had not been tested until that moment. The strike was the first and only shot on target from Inter and Lautaro made it count. The one point from Group D was salvaged.
“I’m not satisfied,” the Inter captain said after the match. “We didn’t play well. We didn’t do what we had prepared for this game. We started out badly and were in a lot of difficulty. We have to improve a lot.”
The busy schedule continues as Inter face Empoli this Sunday in Tuscany before returning to San Siro to face Sassuolo on Wednesday.