Liverpool progressed to the quarter-finals after a well-organised Inter produced a goal and a red card within minutes.
Liverpool 0-1 Inter (2-1 on aggregate)
Champions League, Anfield
March 8, 2022
Goals: Martinez 61′
Inter make it difficult
The Italian champions had made it difficult for Liverpool in the first leg at the San Siro, but Jurgen Klopp‘s side were eventually able to show their class to take a 2-0 lead into this game.
Inter once again had done their Liverpool homework and gave the Reds little time on the ball to get things going in attack.
They also appeared to have a plan to work the ball past Liverpool’s press with the help of goalkeeper Samir Handanovic, but that’s easier said than done.
The windy conditions didn’t help either side’s passing and build-up play. If the match needed to be broken up it might have helped Inter, but they also needed some kind of stability themselves to get back into the tie.
They did so through Lautaro Martinez’s rocket which itself may have been wind-assisted, but a sending off shortly after meant Liverpool could see out the tie and deservedly progress.
The only shots on goal for Liverpool within the first 45 minutes came from centre-backs Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk.
This showed that even though Inter did well to limit the threats in open play during that period, the Reds’ threats can come in many shapes and sizes and from a number of different situations.
Matip came the closest to scoring when his header from Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s free-kick hit the bar.
Van Dijk’s earlier header from a Trent corner was Liverpool’s only shot on target from the first half, but the biggest chance was the Dutchman’s blocked header from another corner later in the half.
Liverpool didn’t need to score, and in the first half you could tell, with the only other effort coming from Trent’s free-kick with the last kick of the half.
Mohamed Salah went on to hit the post twice in the second period, while Luis Diaz saw a shot blocked from close range. Liverpool could have two or three, but in the end, they didn’t need any.
If the team were slightly below full intensity due to the two-goal cushion in the first half, this was matched somewhat in the stands, though the volume would increase as the game went on.
The crowd did play their part at times in the first period, including the away supporters who were vocal from the start, though not as much as some of the groups of supporters who have travelled from the continent to Anfield.
It wasn’t exactly the type of game where the crowd were needed to spur the team on, but it showed there was the potential for them to do so if needed in the later rounds.
The second period was very loud at times, though, maybe a way to keep warm as the cold wind bit through Anfield.
Allez Allez Allez rang out around the stadium, and the Inter fans responded with some noise of their own.
A former Man United player getting sent off only helped.
Sanchez red avoids a major scare
Alexis Sanchez’s “tackle” on Thiago was one of those that’s probably more than a yellow, maybe not quite a red. The Chilean’s studs connected with a part of Thiago‘s leg where serious damage can be done but luckily the midfielder appeared unscathed.
His second challenge was less dangerous, more one of those clumsy challenges as he slid into Fabinho, winning the ball but catching the Brazilian with his follow-through.
Sanchez can have no complaints about the second yellow having gone to ground like that, but it did spare Liverpool a more tense finish.
With only a goal separating the two teams, Inter might have fancied extra-time with 11 v 11, but there were only minutes between their goal and their red card.
“Maybe in the back of our minds we were a little overconfident at the moment,” said Salah after the game. “But I think this was a good game for us to take it, learn from it, and carry on.”
The Reds deserved to win, but the opposition going down to ten made things a little more comfortable than they might have been – and nobody would’ve wanted extra time on a freezing night!
Of the five seasons Klopp has managed Liverpool in the Champions League, they have only failed to reach the quarter-final stage once.
That was when they were knocked out in the last 16 against Atletico Madrid in 2020, while a season later they were knocked out by Real Madrid in the quarters behind closed doors.
Of course, they have reached two finals in this competition under the German, winning one, and will be looking to go all the way again in 2022.
This progress means they remain in all competitions they have entered this season. Though it was a narrow scoreline in the end, Liverpool managed to progress against one of the more organised teams they are likely to face at any stage in this competition or others.