Ansu Fati, Barcelona Knock Inter Milan out of Champions League with 2-1 Win

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistDecember 10, 2019

Barcelona´s Guinea-Bissau forward Ansu Fati (C) celebrates after scoring  during the UEFA Champions League Group F football match Inter Milan vs Barcelona on December 10, 2019 at the San Siro stadium in Milan. (Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP) (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images)
MIGUEL MEDINA/Getty Images

Barcelona remain undefeated at the end of Group F qualifying in the 2019 UEFA Champions League, as they defeated Inter Milan 2-1 on Tuesday at the San Siro.

The loss sees the Italians crash out of the competition after Borussia Dortmund beat Slavia Prague 2-1, claiming the second qualification spot.

Carles Perez gave Barcelona a 23rd-minute lead after Inter's Romelu Lukaku had a goal ruled out for offside in the opening moments.

The San Siro was on its feet a minute before half-time when Lukaku smashed his deflected effort into the bottom corner, with Antonio Conte elated in the technical area.

Inter hearts were broken by Barca substitute Ansu Fati. The 17-year-old became the youngest player to score in the Champions League with just four minutes on the clock.

The Blaugrana failed to read the script during the first half in Italy, and despite changes to their starting line-up, Ernesto Valverde's side took the lead.

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An early burst saw Lukaku beat Barca goalkeeper Neto after seven minutes, but the Belgian was frustrated by the offside flag.

The visitors responded by delivering an irresistible passage of play, and despite missing Lionel Messi, Barca grabbed an advantage. Arturo Vidal assisted Perez in the box and the 21-year-old fired home to break the deadlock.

MILAN, ITALY - DECEMBER 10:  FC Internazionale coach Antonio Conte gestures during the UEFA Champions League group F match between FC Internazionale and FC Barcelona at Giuseppe Meazza Stadium on December 10, 2019 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Emilio Andreo
Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Inter knew before the game this was a contest they could not afford to lose, and Conte's team went hunting for an equaliser. Lautaro Martinez watched his effort saved by Neto, and Borja Valero missed the target when he should have scored before the interval.

The Italians were back in the game just before half-time as their strikers punished the Barca defence.

Martinez successfully held the ball up before laying it off for Lukaku, and the former Manchester United No. 9 fired from the edge of the box past Neto.

OptaJoe highlighted the striker's contribution:

The second half witnessed news of Dortmund's 2-1 lead against Slavia Prague filter around the San Siro, meaning Inter certainly needed the victory against the Catalan giants in order to qualify for the knockouts.

The two sides played out an open affair, with frantic passages seeing each team attack with numbers. Inter rampaged forward as Martinez and Lukaku missed chances, and the Serie A team pressed high up the pitch.

Martinez found the back of the net with 18 minutes remaining, but once again an offside call denied Inter the precious goal they desired. The Argentina international had the ball in the net again after 79 minutes, but this time Lukaku was given offside as he became active before the strike.

The San Siro was a cauldron of noise in the closing stages, and Inter's all-out attack left plenty of space behind for Barca to expose. Perez should have completed his brace, but missed his opportunity, and Inter were relentless as they battled to survive in the tournament.

MILAN, ITALY - DECEMBER 10:  (R) Ansu Fati of FC Barcellona scores his first goal during the UEFA Champions League group F match between Inter and FC Barcelona at Giuseppe Meazza Stadium on December 10, 2019 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Ge
Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

Luis Suarez came on as a late sub for the visitors, and the Uruguayan was influential in the final minutes when Fati netted.

Suarez set up the prodigy for his winner, and Inter didn't have enough time to score the two goals they required to qualify.

Conte's men drop into the UEFA Europa League after finishing third in the group.

               

What's Next

Barcelona are in La Liga action on Saturday when they visit Real Sociedad, and Inter travel to Fiorentina in Serie A on Sunday. The Champions League resumes on Feb. 18 with the round of 16.

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