Martinez's Late Goal Saves Inter Milan in Champions League Opener
Lautaro Martinez emerged as the hero for Inter Milan, rescuing a 1-1 draw against Real Sociedad in their opening Champions League match on Wednesday.
Despite Inter Milan's status as Serie A leaders, it was Real Sociedad, making their first Champions group-stage appearance in a decade, who dominated most of the game. Inter had reason to be grateful for their opponent's missed opportunities, considering their performance was far from the standards of their unbeaten league run.
Real's coach, Imanol Alguacil, commended his team's outstanding performance, stating, "I have congratulated my boys for the great game they played. The players, the fans and myself should be proud."
Real Sociedad's aggressive early pressing tactic bore fruit just four minutes into the match when Brais Mendez stole the ball on the edge of Inter's box and fired a shot into the bottom right corner, putting the hosts ahead 1-0.
Real Sociedad had opportunities to extend their lead, but Robin Le Normand's header missed the target before halftime, and their new goalkeeper, Yann Sommer, made a crucial save to deny Mikel Oyarzabal from close range early in the second half.
Inter Milan's coach, Simone Inzaghi, acknowledged the strength of their opponent, saying, "We faced a very strong side tonight, we knew it. We did well to remain in the game despite playing badly, thanks to our goalkeeper."
Inter Milan gradually increased their pressure on Real Sociedad, but it wasn't until the late stages of the match that they managed to equalize. Lautaro Martinez found the net in the 87th minute, marking his sixth goal in five games this season.
Despite the late equalizer, Martinez expressed dissatisfaction with their performance, stating, "I'm not satisfied because we did not play as we planned. We had a lot of troubles in the first half because we were facing a team who pressed us very high and we had difficulties to build from the back with the forwards often going offside. We did not play well but it was important to avoid defeat at least because the group would have become more complicated otherwise."
In Group D, Inter and Real Sociedad find themselves trailing behind RB Salzburg, who secured a 2-0 victory against Benfica, with the Portuguese champions hampered by an early red card for Antonio Silva.