Liverpool are through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a 2-1 aggregate win despite being beaten 1-0 on the night by 10-man Inter at Anfield.
Lautaro Martinez’s stunning strike just after the hour offered hope for the Italian champions but Alexis Sanchez was sent off moments later and Liverpool held on to progress.
The result ends an unbeaten run that extends back to last year for Jurgen Klopp’s side but they will not be too concerned by that – the hard work done in the San Siro proved decisive.
Liverpool: Alisson (6), Alexander-Arnold (7), Matip (7), Van Dijk (7), Robertson (7), Fabinho (7), Thiago (7), Jones (7), Mane (7), Jota (6), Salah (6).
Subs: Henderson (6), Keita (6), Diaz (6).
Internazionale: Handanovic (6), Skriniar (8), De Vrij (7), Bastoni (7), Dumfries (7), Vidal (8), Brozovic (8), Calhanoglu (7), Perisic (7), Martinez (7), Sanchez (4).
Subs: D’Ambrosio (6), Correa (6), Darmian (6), Gagliardini (6), Vecino (6).
Man of the match: Arturo Vidal
Simone Inzaghi’s Inter had been competitive in that first leg, conceding from Liverpool’s only two shots on target, and they produced another spirited performance here.
But it was Liverpool who came closest to scoring before Martinez’s goal with Joel Matip heading the ball against the crossbar and Mohamed Salah striking the foot of the post.
With that two-goal lead from the first leg, there was no need for Liverpool to force the game at Anfield and, with their offside trap keeping Inter at bay, it seemed comfortable enough.
Jurgen Klopp made four changes to the team that beat West Ham but only two to the side that won the first leg in the San Siro. Joel Matip came in to partner Ibrahima Konate, while Curtis Jones got the nod alongside Fabinho and Thiago in midfield.
Inter had a comfortable preparation with a 5-0 win over bottom club Salernitana at the weekend but it was back to something like their strongest line-up with just one change from the first leg as Alexis Sanchez came in up front in place of Edin Dzeko.
That changed when Martinez beat Alisson from distance and suddenly there were nerves among the home crowd. Sanchez’s second yellow card soon switched the momentum.
The former Manchester United and Arsenal forward had been fortunate to only receive a yellow card for drawing blood from Thiago with his studs in the first half.
The foul on Fabinho that saw him sent from the field was not quite so bad – he caught the Brazilian on the follow-through after winning the ball – but the Liverpool boss was clear that it was the only decision the referee could make.
“If you can’t get the ball without endangering an opponent then it’s a foul,” said Klopp. “And he caught him badly. He was lucky not to get red for the foul on Thiago in the first half.”
There were no further scares for Liverpool in the final quarter of the game as they began to dominate a tiring Inter team with Salah somehow hitting the post for a second time.
Luis Diaz was also denied in stoppage time, but it was frustrating rather than decisive.
“These days can happen,” said Klopp afterwards. “We just need to be better next time.”
Thankfully for Liverpool, there will be a next time. Their Champions League adventure continues.
Sanchez’s red proves costly
Liverpool were fortunate that Sanchez decided to dive in just when the away fans were believing that a remarkable comeback was possible. The hope for Inter ended there.
The Chilean had been a slightly surprising inclusion ahead of Edin Dzeko but the logic looked sound for much of the first half with his movement testing the Liverpool backline.
But the foul on Thiago was a wretched one with a yellow card the least he deserved for the offence and that really should have had Sanchez – and his coach – on red alert.
Instead, he caught Fabinho and what followed was inevitable, much to the delight of the home fans. Matches hinge on moments and this one swung the tie back towards Liverpool.
Liverpool’s surprise defeat
Liverpool suffered their first home defeat in 29 matches across all competitions since losing to Fulham over a year ago in March 2021
Were Liverpool overconfident?
“Maybe at the back of our mind we felt overconfident at the moment,” Salah told BT Sport when asked about the reasons for the reversal after such a good run of results.
“We lose a game. Maybe that will give us a little bit of a push,” said Salah.
If that is the case then, in a slightly curious way, perhaps this was the perfect scenario for Klopp because it serves as a useful reminder to his team without halting their progress.
“If there is a game we can lose then this was the one,” added Klopp. “Clearly, I’m not over the moon, but we are through and deserve to be.”
When is the Champions League draw?
The Champions League quarter-final draw will take place on Friday, March 18 at 11am UK time, with the balls being drawn out at UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. The semi-finals will be drawn at the same time, meaning clubs and fans can plot out their potential route to the Paris final.
You will be able to follow the draw across Sky Sports’ digital platforms.
What’s next for Liverpool?
Liverpool return to Premier League action on Saturday when they travel to Brighton; kick-off 12.30pm. Jurgen Klopp’s side can close the gap on leaders Manchester City to three points before the champions face Crystal Palace on Monday Night Football, live on Sky Sports.