Inter once again had a dominant first half Champions League display ruined by collapsing after the break, as they went from 2-0 up to lose 3-2 at Borussia Dortmund.
This was a head-to-head for second place in the group, as they were together on four points. Dortmund lost 2-0 at San Siro, so the scoreline here could be just as important as simply who wins. There was a surprise result in this group earlier, as Barcelona were held 0-0 at home by Slavia Prague.
Alexis Sanchez, Danilo D’Ambrosio, Roberto Gagliardini and Kwadwo Asamoah missed out, with Stefano Sensi only fit for the bench. Borussia Dortmund held Barcelona 0-0 here and were unbeaten at home this season in all competition. Marcel Schmelzer and captain Marco Reus were injured, but Nico Schulz and Julian Weigl were surprise starters.
It was not a reassuring start, as Cristiano Biraghi was booked within the first minute for a mistimed tackle in midfield.
However, Lautaro Martinez quickly made the difference, finding the net for the third Champions League game in a row. The Argentine knocked on a long ball from midfield, got away from Akanji and out-sprinted Hummels, cutting inside and feinting a finish to the far post, but instead prodding it back to the near stick.
Borussia Dortmund started to control possession, but didn’t get a shot on target until the 18th minute, with Samir Handanovic beating away the Mario Gotze strike from 12 yards.
Romelu Lukaku’s strike was fingertipped on to the woodwork, but only after the offside flag had gone up.
For all their possession, Dortmund created few real scares for Samir Handanovic and it was Inter who doubled their lead before half-time.
Marcelo Brozovic rode several tackles to start the move in midfield, Lautaro Martinez passed to Antonio Candreva down the right flank and he waited for the precise moment to pull back, where Matias Vecino completed his run to drill home from the edge of the box.
Handanovic had some work to do in stoppages, parrying Jadon Sancho’s flick from close range.
Borussia Dortmund got back into it at the dawn of the second half. It was a well-worked team move, finished by Gotze pulling back from the by-line, but Hakimi scuffed his finish from six yards, which paradoxically helped him, as it bobbled into the far bottom corner.
Suddenly, the crowd was fired up and so were the hosts, as Thorgan Hazard’s cross skimmed Julian Brandt’s head and the boot of another teammate sliding in at the back post.
Marcelo Brozovic hit a rocket from distance, but straight at the goalkeeper, and the equaliser came from a series of howlers.
It was an Inter throw-in near the corner flag from Candreva, but Brozovic and Godin were distracted, allowing Dortmund to snatch it away and Brandt drilled past Handanovic from the tightest of angles.
Inter were a completely different team after the break, not dissimilar to the situation they had away to Barcelona. Brandt’s cross found Axel Witsel unmarked for a glancing header inches wide and Inter made changes to shake things up, but within moments of coming off the bench, Matteo Politano sprained his ankle. He was limping badly and practically left Inter down to 10 men for the last 15 minutes.
It was during this period that Borussia Dortmund completed the comeback to lead 3-2. Inter got nowhere near Hakimi all night and he again burst down the right, completing a give and go with Sancho to beat Handanovic from a tight angle.
Stefano Sensi came on after his injury lay-off and almost equalised, but the finish was smothered by Burki.
Borussia Dortmund 3-2 Inter
Lautaro Martinez 6 (I), Vecino 40 (I), Hakimi 51, 77 (B), Brandt 64 (B)
Borussia Dortmund: Bürki; Hakimi, Akanji, Hummels, Schulz; Witsel, Weigl; Sancho (Piszczek 82), Brandt, Hazard (Guerreiro 88); Götze (Alcacer 64)
Inter: Handanovic; Godin, De Vrij, Skriniar; Candreva, Vecino (Sensi 68), Brozovic, Barella, Biraghi (Lazaro 66); Lautaro Martinez; R Lukaku (Politano 73)
Ref: Makkelie (NED)