That's how to silence your critics! Romelu Lukaku the unlikely hero as Inter snatch late victory over Porto
- Tense tactical battle between both sides
- Otavio red card changed game
- Lukaku the unlikely hero at the death
TELL ME MORE: A tense tactical battle between two well-drilled sides didn't necessarily translate into a dazzling first leg. Porto went closest early on when Marko Grujic's shot at the end of fine team move was well blocked by Andre Onana, before Wenderson Galeno somehow fluffed his header from the rebound. Minutes later it was Diogo Costa's turn to produce heroics, incredibly tipping over from Alessandro Bastoni's close-range flick.
Onana clashed with Edin Dzeko in the first period but had his team-mates thanking him for a stunning double-save to deny Zaidu Sanusi and Mehdi Taremi shortly after the break. His efforts seemed to spur on a late Inter resurgence, which only gained momentum when Porto midfielder Otavio picked up a second yellow for a mindless trip on Hasan Calhanolgu. The Portuguese side appeared to have held on before Romelu Lukaku popped up to become the unlikely hero just four minutes from time, firing home the rebound from his own header and making it advantage Inter going into the second leg.
THE MVP: Could this be the seminal moment in Lukaku's Inter return? Criticised by his own CEO before kick-off for supposed weight issues, the Belgian was introduced on the hour mark and almost immediately set up Martinez to put his side in front. The Argentine may not have had his shooting boots on, but Lukaku certainly did - even if he was aided by a favourable deflection off the post. That's two goals in two games for the 29-year-old now, as Inter - and perhaps Chelsea - fans will be hoping he can kick on in Milan and cement his place in their starting line-up.
THE BIG LOSER: While Galeno produced a shocking miss and was arguably fortunate not to concede a penalty in the first half, the foolish decision-making from Otavio changed the game - and perhaps the tie - completely. Away from home and with Inter already on the up, his foul on Calhanoglu was a clear booking and therefore warranted his sending off. Sergio Conceicao attempted to shut up shop shortly after but his efforts were ultimately in vain after Lukaku's 86th minute strike, a moment which can undoubtedly be traced back to Otavio's sending off.
MATCH IN THREE PHOTOS:
WHAT NEXT? The result makes it 13 wins in 14 matches at San Siro for Inter with just four goals conceded, and they will fancy themselves to get a result in the second leg in three weeks' time given the absence of Otavio.
MATCH RATING (OUT OF FIVE): ⭐⭐