In a convincing display of the game, Inter Milan took a significant step towards securing their spot in the Champions League semi-finals with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Benfica at Estadio da Luz on Tuesday.
The Italian giants, who have claimed the prestigious title three times, dominated the quarter-final first leg encounter, resulting in Benfica’s first defeat in the competition.
Despite a closely contested first half, Inter Milan’s Nicolo Barella broke the deadlock early in the second half with a well-executed header from Alessandro Bastoni’s cross. Later in the game, substitute Romelu Lukaku secured the win for the visitors by converting a penalty with clinical finishing.
Benfica, under the tutelage of Roger Schmidt, was aiming to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 1990. However, they were unable to impose themselves on the game and failed to create clear chances throughout the match. The Portuguese side could not find a way past Inter Milan’s resolute defense, and their star striker, Goncalo Ramos, was unable to make any significant impact on the game.
Inter Milan’s recent form had been a cause for concern, having scored only two goals in their previous five games across all competitions. Nevertheless, they put on a patient and professional display when it mattered most, maintaining a disciplined approach and taking advantage of the opportunities presented to them.
The game’s closest chance came when Andre Onana made a crucial save, denying Rafa Silva’s drive after Federico Dimarco inadvertently headed the ball into his path in the box. Inter Milan’s Francesco Acerbi also came close with a speculative shot from 30 yards out.
Coach Simone Inzaghi had selected Edin Dzeko ahead of Romelu Lukaku, but the Belgian striker answered his critics by scoring from the penalty spot late in the game. Benfica’s Joao Mario gifted Inter Milan the penalty by handling Denzel Dumfries’s cross.
Despite the commanding lead, Inter Milan cannot afford to be complacent in the second leg. However, they will be confident of securing their spot in the semi-finals and potentially setting up an all-Italian encounter with Serie A leaders Napoli or city rivals AC Milan.
The second leg will take place on Wednesday, April 19, at the San Siro, and Benfica will have a mountain to climb if they want to overturn the deficit.