Champions League | Inter beats Atletico in the first leg

On their way back to the final, Inter Milan made a successful start to the knockout round of the Champions League. In the first leg of the round of 16, the Serie A leaders deservedly beat Atletico Madrid 1-0 (0-0).

Former Bundesliga professional Marko Arnautovic (79th) scored the decisive goal. This means that a draw in the second leg on March 13th in the Spanish capital would be enough for last year’s finalists to advance.

Inter dominated the game, Atletico defended with concentration and uncompromising as usual. Chances to score were rare. It took until the 36th minute before Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak had to intervene for the first time with a header from Lautaro Martinez.

Just two minutes later, the Argentine world champion missed the game’s first top-class chance after a clever pass from ex-Gladbach player Marcus Thuram.

After the break, Inter increased the pressure, but Atletico continued to withstand it. Substitute Arnautovic had the lead for the Nerazzurri, but after a one-two with Martinez he put the ball over the crossbar (64′). Then the Austrian dusted himself off after Oblak blocked a shot from Martinez right at his feet.

Inter lead the Serie A table by nine points and are eyeing the 20th Scudetto. The leader has been undefeated since the end of September. Milan also survived the preliminary round of the Champions League without defeat, but had to settle for second place behind the surprise team Real Sociedad San Sebastian. Atletico, on the other hand, is fourth in the Spanish championship and is already eleven points behind local rivals Real.