Romelu Lukaku & Nicolo Barella lead the way! Inter put Benfica in big trouble in Champions League quarter-final first leg
- Inter win 2-0 at the Estadio da Luz
- Barella opens scoring with header
- Lukaku doubles lead from penalty spot
TELL ME MORE: Inter took the lead with their first effort on goal at the start of the second half. Alessandro Bastoni crossed in from the left and found Nicolo Barella at the back post to head past goalkeeper Odysseas Vlachodimos. Benfica should have levelled minutes later but, after a scramble in the box, Inter somehow managed to clear their lines. Bastoni almost produced a second late on with another superb delivery in from the left. This time he picked out Denzel Dumfries, who saw his header blocked by the goalkeeper. Inter may have been denied but it wasn't for long. Moments later, Joao Mario conceded a penalty for handball, allowing substitute Romelu Lukaku to convert the penalty during a difficult stretch personally and double the visitors' lead.
THE MVP: Inter will be thrilled to be heading home with a two-goal advantage and have Barella to thank for sending them on their way to victory. The midfielder broke the deadlock when he netted for the first time since October. Bastoni deserves credit for a fine cross into the box, but Barella came up with a textbook finish, heading down and back across goal to find the back of the net. It's the midfielder's first-ever headed goal for Inter and it could not have come at a better time.
THE BIG LOSER: Benfica defender Joao Mario may have felt he had a point to prove when he came up against his former team on Tuesday night but he won't remember this reunion fondly. The hosts were already trailing 1-0 when Mario gave away a penalty for handball as he attempted to block a ball into the box. The penalty was given after a VAR review, allowing Lukaku to double Inter's lead and leave Benfica with a mountain to climb ahead of the second leg.
MATCH IN THREE PHOTOS:
WHAT NEXT? Both teams face league fixtures next before they meet again next Wednesday at San Siro for the return leg. Benfica are away to Chaves on Saturday, while Inter host Monza.
MATCH RATING (OUT OF FIVE): ⭐⭐⭐