Inter Milan are facing an early Champions League exit after a 2-0 defeat to Real Madrid, in a match they found themselves down to 10 men in after just 33 minutes, left them winless and bottom of their group with two games to play.
Eden Hazard, who has endured a difficult first year in the Spanish capital, scored his first Champions League for Los Blancos, and his first for anyone in Europe's premier club competition since November 2017, from the penalty spot in just the seventh minute to break the deadlock in the San Siro.
Then a moment of madness from Arturo Vidal saw Inter’s task become all the more difficult. Vidal went tumbling in the penalty area, but English referee Anthony Taylor was having none of it. Vidal chased Taylor down, earning him a yellow card for his protestations, before then getting right in Taylor’s face, meaning he was booked for a second time in quick succession, resulting in Vidal given his premature marching orders.
And, with his very first touch, 32 seconds after coming off the bench, Rodrygo volleyed home a second just before the hour mark to put the game to bed, reinvigorating Real’s Champions League campaign, lifting them to second in Group B.
Arturo Vidal is sent off for Inter
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When the draw was made for this season's competition, Real and Inter were licking their lips at the prospect of dominating Group B up against Borussia Mönchengladbach and Shakhtar Donetsk, but coming into this clash at the San Siro, neither were in a good position.
Desperate to get their first win, trailing Group B leaders Gladbach by eight points ahead of kick off, Inter needed to get off to a good start against Real, but Nicolo Barella’s clumsy tackle on Nacho saw them concede a penalty inside five minutes, with Hazard stepping up score a much-needed goal for his confidence.
Vidal then became one of only three players to be sent off for three different clubs in the Champions League in the most needless fashion possible, and Inter were fighting a losing battle for there on in.
Rodrygo took his tally to six in the Champions League in nine appearances for Real in the second half to end the match as a contest, with Real seeing out a vital win with ease to close to within a point of Gladbach, and leave progression for the knockout stages firmly in their own hands.
TALKING POINT - What is going wrong at Inter?
After storming to a fine finish at the end of last season as they reached the Europa League final, Inter looked set for a strong campaign this time around. It has been anything but so far.
A strong squad was further strengthened in the summer with the capture of Achraf Hakiki and Nicolo Barella, but neither have helped Inter get their season up and running.
coach Antonio Conte of Internazionale during the UEFA Champions League match between Internazionale v Real Madrid at the San Siro on November 25, 2020 in Milan Italy
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Their dynamic front two of Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez have not clicked, while Christian Eriksen has been left out in the cold. Antonio Conte has his work cut out to try turn things around.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Martin Odegaard
It looked like a big call, in such a crucial game, for Zinedine Zidane to go for Odegaard over Casemiro, but the Real boss' decision was justified as the Norwegian dominated the match from start to finish in midfield, pulling the strings for a Real side that did not need to get out of second gear.
Inter: Handanovic 6, Bastoni 6, Skriniar 5, De Vrij 5, Hakimi 5, Barella 4, Gagliardini 5, Vidal 2, Young 4, Lukaku 3, Lautaro 3... Subs: Sanchez 5, D'Ambrosio 5, Sensi 5, Perisic 6, Eriksen N/A.
Real Madrid: Courtois 6, Carvajal 6, Varane 6, Nacho 7, Mendy 6, Modric 7, Kroos 6, Ødegaard 7, Lucas Vázquez 7, Mariano 6, Hazard 7... Subs: Rodrygo 7, Casemiro 6, Vinicius 6.
5’ - PENALTY TO REAL! Disaster for the hosts, as Nacho is felled by Nicolò Barella in the penalty area. Hazard with it...
7’ - GGGGGOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLL!!!!! Inter 0-1 Real Madrid. Pressure on Hazard, but he slots home his third goal for Real. Uphill battle for the home side now.
13’ - POST! Brilliant strike from Luka Modric from 25 yards, Samir Handanovic is beaten all ends up, but the ball cannons out off the post! Inter all over the place here!
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33’ - RED CARD! Oh my word! What a nightmare this is turning into for Inter. Vidal goes sprawling in the penalty area, but nothing is given, and Vidal loses it, earning himself two yellow cards in quick succession, seeing him sent off!
59’ - GGGGGGOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLLL!!! Inter 0-2 Real Madrid. With his very first touch, Rodrygo volleys home to surely put this game to bed! What an entrance. Six goals in the Champions League now for Rodrygo, as he arrives at the back post on the end of a Vazquez cross to further dent Inter's hopes of a comeback.
72’ - WIDE! Real overplay on the edge of their own box, the ball falls for Perisic, who cuts onto his left foot, before curling just wide.
Real Madrid have won away to either Milan side (Inter Milan and AC Milan) for the first time with what was their 15 attempt (D4 L10 before today).
Inter Milan have lost four of their last five games against Real Madrid in European competition, losing twice against them in a single season for the first time.
Real Madrid have won each of their last five away UEFA Champions League matches against Italian sides – they had won just three of their previous 16 such games (D5 L8).
Inter Milan have failed to win any of their first four games in a UEFA Champions League for the first time; the Nerazzurri have now won just two of their last 14 games in the competition (D5 L7).
Real Madrid’s Eden Hazard opened the scoring from the penalty spot with what was his first UEFA Champions League goal in over three years, last netting for Chelsea against FK Qarabag in November 2017.