Romelu Lukaku turned in a Lautaro Martinez assist to cancel out Carles Perez’s opener, as Inter and Barcelona are 1-1 at the break – as are Borussia Dortmund and Slavia Prague.
That means that, as things stand at half-time, Inter would qualify thanks to a superior head-to-head record with the Germans.
The Nerazzurri needed a win to go through, or at least to match Borussia Dortmund’s result against Slavia Prague, whereas Barca were already sure of first place in the group.
Stefano Sensi, Nicolò Barella, Roberto Gagliardini, Kwadwo Asamoah and Alexis Sanchez missed out, while the Blaugrana left Lionel Messi, Sergi Roberto, Ousmane Dembele, Nelson Semedo, Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique and Arthur at home. Luis Suarez was only on the bench.
Danilo D’Ambrosio fired over the bar on a Borja Valero assist, then when Romelu Lukaku blasted into the roof of the net, he was clearly offside.
Carles Perez stung Samir Handanovic’s gloves from a tricky angle, while Lukaku sent one defender to ground, but had his shot blocked by a desperate Clement Langlet from four yards.
Cristiano Biraghi stung Neto’s gloves, but Barcelona took the lead somewhat against the run of play.
The offside trap was not activated because it was Diego Godin who knocked on the through ball to Carles Perez, who fired in undisturbed, as he tried to anticipate Vidal.
It could easily have been 2-0 on 33 minutes, as a corner was knocked on for Lenglet, who incredibly fired wide from 10 yards.
Lautaro Martinez forced a tricky save from Neto on the half-volley as he took down a long ball, then D’Ambrosio’s header skimmed the woodwork on a Lukaku cross from the left.
The pressure finally paid off, as Lautaro Martinez worked so hard to hold up the ball on the edge of the box, resisting pressure from defenders, setting it up for Lukaku to drill into the near bottom corner from just outside the penalty area, with the aid of a deflection.
Incredibly, at the same moment, news filtered through that Slavia Prague had equalised away to Borussia Dortmund. As things stand with both games at 1-1, Inter would qualify.
Inter 1-1 Barcelona (Half-Time)
Perez 24 (B), Lukaku 44 (I)
Inter: Handanovic; Godin, De Vrij, Skriniar; D’Ambrosio, Vecino, Borja Valero, Brozovic, Biraghi; Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez
Barcelona: Neto; Wague, Lenglet, Umtiti, Junior Firpo; Rakitic, Todibo, Vidal; Alena, Griezmann, Carles Perez
Ref: Kuipers (NED)
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