Inter’s Champions League dreams are in tatters after a 2-0 home defeat to Real Madrid, as Arturo Vidal was sent off for dissent in the first half.
The group was extremely tight going in, as the Nerazzurri had just two points, Real Madrid and Shakhtar Donetsk four, but Borussia Monchengladbach beat the Ukrainians 4-0 in an earlier kick-off to reach eight points. There was a minute’s silence before kick-off following the death of Napoli and Argentina legend Diego Maradona.
Marcelo Brozovic and Aleksandar Kolarov were still out with COVID, but Madrid made the trip to San Siro without Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos, Federico Valverde, Eder Militao, Luka Jovic and Alvaro Odriozola. They moved tactics to 4-2-3-1 with Lucas Vazquez, Martin Odegaard and Eden Hazard supporting Mariano Diaz.
It was a bad start for Inter, as Nicolò Barella ran into the back of Nacho and clipped his heels for an avoidable and naïve penalty. Eden Hazard converted with power, despite Samir Handanovic guessing the right side.
Lucas Vazquez almost made it 2-0 soon after, his sudden snapshot bouncing off the base of the upright with Handanovic nowhere near it.
Arturo Vidal gave the ball away cheaply and was lucky Real Madrid failed to make the most of it, but Romelu Lukaku fired a free kick over from the edge of the area.
Hazard stung Handanovic’s gloves at the near post, but things went from bad to worse when Vidal went down in the box under pressure from two Real Madrid players. Not only did the referee not view it again on VAR, he booked Vidal for dissent, swiftly followed by another card to reduce Inter to 10 men.
The Nerazzurri struggled to keep their heads and Luka Modric scuffed his finish just wide. Antonio Conte made a double change for the restart, introducing Ivan Perisic and Danilo D’Ambrosio for Lautaro Martinez and Alessandro Bastoni for a 4-4-1 formation.
Inter had more strong penalty appeals, this time when Roberto Gagliardini appeared to be wrestled to the ground, but VAR decided not to intervene.
Romelu Lukaku nodded down a corner for Stefan de Vrij, some desperate defending preventing the tap-in from six yards.
However, Real Madrid doubled their lead instead against the run of play, when a Lucas Vazquez cross found substitute Rodrygo relatively unmarked to fire in at the far post.
Perisic tried to get a consolation late on, his angled drive forcing Thibaut Courtois to get down quickly and palm it away with one hand.
Inter 0-2 Real Madrid
E Hazard pen 7 (R), Rodrygo 59 (R)
Inter: Handanovic; Skriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni (D’Ambrosio 46); Hakimi (Alexis Sanchez 64), Barella, Gagliardini (Sensi 78), Young; Vidal; Lukaku (Eriksen 86), Lautaro Martinez (Perisic 46)
Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Nacho, Mendy; Modric, Kroos; Lucas Vazquez, Odegaard (Casemiro 58), E Hazard (Vinicius Jr 78); Mariano Diaz (Rodrygo 59)
Ref: Taylor (ENG)
Sent off: Vidal 33 (I)