Inter defeats Atletico in the first leg, and the tie postpones the decision between Dortmund and Eindhoven

February 21, 2024
Inter defeats Atletico in the first leg, and the tie postpones the decision between Dortmund and Eindhoven

On Tuesday, Italian Inter Milan defeated Spanish Atletico Madrid, 1-0, in the first leg of the Champions League, with a score of 1-0. While the match between Dutch club PSV Eindhoven and German club Borussia Dortmund ended in a 1-1 draw, with the return matches to be held on March 13.

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The Italian club Inter Milan won the first round of its fierce confrontation with the Spanish Atletico Madrid, beating them 1-0 on Tuesday, in the first leg of the quarter-finals of the competition. UEFA Champions LeagueWhile the Dutch match between PSV Eindhoven and German Borussia Dortmund was tied 1-1.

The return matches will take place on March 13.

Atletico is on a mission to revive its season

The goal of the first leg was scored by veteran Austrian substitute Marko Arnautovic (79). After the match, Arnautovic said: “I think we definitely deserved this win, and now another strong match awaits us in Madrid. We know how good they are, but I feel that we can do it again.”

The match witnessed the return of Atletico coach Diego Simeone to the San Siro Stadium in the Italian city of Milan to face Inter, which carried its colors in the nineties, between 1997 and 1999, winning the European Union Cup (currently Europa League) title in 1998.

Atletico entered the match with the aim of reviving its season, as it currently ranks fourth in the Spanish League, while it was eliminated from the Spanish Cup in the semi-finals, as well as from the Spanish Super Cup competition.

Quite the opposite, Nerazzurri, who won the main continental competition three times and runner-up last season, is experiencing its best days as it sits at the top of the Italian League by nine points with a postponed match at the expense of second-placed Juventus.

Inter lost the final of the competition last season to Manchester City, while Atletico is the only team to have reached the final three times and not won the title.

Inter was better in the first half, wasting several chances

Inter was the undisputedly better team in the first half, but it failed to translate the many chances it received and scored against Slovenian goalkeeper Jan Oblak. Inter threatened its rival's goal through two chances, the first of which was given to Frenchman Marcus Thuram, who advanced at high speed before passing to the brilliant Argentine striker, Lautaro Martinez, who was intercepted by Atletico's defenders at the right time before his shot posed a threat to Oblak's goal (39).

Inter almost took the lead after an exchange of the ball between Thuram, Martinez and Nicolo Barella, who returned it to the Frenchman, but the latter’s shot ended up in the goalkeeper’s arms (43). Coach Simone Inzaghi was forced to remove Thuram at the beginning of the second half due to injury and bring on Arnautovic (46), and he also brought in Montenegrin defender Stefan Savic instead of Uruguayan Jose Gimenes.

The hosts continued to be dangerous in the second half, as substitute Arnautovic almost opened the scoring when Federico Demarco passed him a wonderful cross, but his shot went over the goal (49). The entry of striker Alvaro Morata and Saul Nigues gave a great boost (54), so “Rojiblancos” had two chances to snatch the lead within a minute, but the final touch remained missing.

After an exchange of passes between Arnautovic and Martinez, the former wasted the opportunity to be alone with the goalkeeper, as he strangely shot a few centimeters over the crossbar (63). Simeone was forced to replace his French star Antoine Griezmann due to an injury in his right ankle, and he was replaced by Argentine Angel Correa (78).

Arnautovic made up for his previous failure, giving Inter the lead after the ball reached Martinez following a defensive lapse by Atletico. He shot a ball that was blocked by Oblak and reached the 34-year-old Austrian striker, who followed it powerfully into the goal (79).

In an attempt to respond, Brazilian Samuel Leno shot a ball from a long distance, but it passed the goal (80).

A draw postpones the decision between Dortmund and Eindhoven

The decision between PSV Eindhoven and its guest, Borussia Dortmund, was postponed after a draw prevailed between them. Dortmund opened the scoring through former PSV Eindhoven player Donnel Malen (24), and PSV equalized thanks to Luuk de Jong (56, penalty kick).

Dortmund defender Mats Hummels said: “We should have been more calm in the match. We allowed the hot weather to affect us a lot.” He added: “I saw a very beatable version of PSV Eindhoven today. In our home match in the second leg, we simply need to play better with the ball. After that, I am very confident that we will qualify.”

Eindhoven, the leader of the local league, lost only once in its last 26 matches in various competitions, and that was at Feyenoord 0-1 in the cup final, compared to 19 wins and 6 draws. The Dutch club also maintained its unbeaten record at home this season in 18 matches in various competitions, with 15 wins and 3 draws.

Dortmund coach Edin Terzic made two changes to his starting lineup, putting defender Niklas Süle and midfielder Julian Brandt on the bench and bringing in duo Mats Hummels and striker Malen. Dortmund knew how to snatch the lead from their first real opportunity in the first half, thanks to Dutchman Malen after a pass from Austrian Marcel Sabitzer at the edge of the area. He shot a ball with his right foot that deceived Argentine goalkeeper Walter Benitez after it hit American defender Sergino Dest and settled in the net (24). Two failed attempts (15 and 17).

Donyell Malen refuses to celebrate his 55th goal out of respect for the PSV Eindhoven fans

Malen refused to celebrate his 55th goal in only 43 matches with Dortmund in various competitions, out of respect for the feelings of the fans of the PSV Eindhoven team, whose colors he defended between 2018 and 2021. PSV Eindhoven equaled one of De Jong's third goals in the main continental competition this season after he took a penalty kick awarded by the referee following a foul committed by Mats Hummels on American Malik Thielemann, and his validity was confirmed by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) (56).

Marco Reus and the returning Englishman, Jaydon Sancho, came out and Brandt and Marius Wolff entered in the 62nd and 68th minutes, respectively, without changing the score.

Dortmund, fourth in the German League, has not lost a match since the ninth of last December, which was in the “Bundesliga” against Leipzig 2-3. Since then, he has achieved 4 wins and 6 draws in various competitions.

France 24/AFP

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