Lukaku Strikes Late To Snatch Win For Inter Over Porto

Substitute Romelu Lukaku volleyed an 86th-minute winner to earn Inter Milan a 1-0 victory over Porto in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday.

Porto midfielder Otavio was sent off 12 minutes from time and Belgian striker Lukaku took full advantage to boost Inter’s bid to qualify for the quarterfinals of Europe’s premier club competition for the first time in 12 years.

“We played well against a very physical side. There are regrets that we failed to convert some of the first half chances, while we ran some risks after the break on the counter-attack, but the substitutions helped,” Inter manager Simone Inzaghi told Amazon Prime Italia.

Lautaro Martinez could have put Inter ahead after 13 minutes but sent his header wide from an unmarked position inside the box.

Inter keeper Andre Onana pulled off a good stop to keep out an effort from Marko Grujic who was played free inside the box by a backheel pass from Mehdi Taremi.

Alessandro Bastoni was close to giving Inter the lead in first-half stoppage time, but his downward header was expertly saved by Porto keeper Diogo Costa.

After Otavio’s dismissal for a second yellow card following a poor challenge on Hakan Calhanoglu, Inter poured forward in search of the winner and Lukaku headed Nicolo Barella’s cross against the post before knocking the rebound past Costa.

“We should’ve been quicker moving the ball around and building out from the back. It wasn’t easy with Porto pressing so aggressively, but we still deserved to take the lead in the first half,” Inzaghi said.

The win ended Inter’s run of four successive first-leg defeats in Champions League knockout-stage ties and sent the home crowd into raptures as they chanted the name of Lukaku who has endured an injury-plagued campaign.

Porto host Inter in the second leg on 14 March.