Surprise starter Alexis Sanchez sets Inter on way to 2-1 victory over Salzburg in Champions League
Tue, Oct 24, 2023
Soccer News (AP)
Surprise starter Alexis Sanchez set Inter Milan on its way to a 2-1 victory over Salzburg on Tuesday to boost the Nerazzurri's chances of reaching the Champions League knockout stages.
Sanchez scored in the 19th minute for the veteran forward's first goal since returning to the club in the offseason. Oscar Gloukh briefly leveled for Salzburg but Hakan Calhanoglu scored what proved to be the winner from the penalty spot in the 64th minute.
That sent Inter provisionally atop Group C, three points clear of Real Sociedad, which was playing Benfica later. Salzburg is four points behind Inter.
Coach Simone Inzaghi surprisingly dropped Marcus Thuram - who has been a revelation this season - to the bench in favor of Sanchez.
It was a rare opportunity for the Chile forward, who had only started one of Inter's 10 previous matches this season, and he proved it was the right decision when he gave the Nerazzurri the lead.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan's pass was probably meant for Davide Frattesi - who was also making a rare start - but it came through to Sanchez at the back post and the 34-year-old swept it into the far side of the net.
It was Inter's first attempt as Salzburg had started the stronger and could have even been in front - with home goalkeeper Yann Sommer forced into an early save and several dangerous attacks from the Austrian team.
The goal appeared to dampen Salzburg's spirit and it almost gifted Inter a second in the 32nd minute. Denzel Dumfries flashed a ball across the face of goal from the left, towards Sanchez, and visiting defender Amar Dedic prodded it just wide of his own net.
Carlos Augusto should have doubled Inter's advantage shortly before Salzburg leveled with a well-worked move that ended with Maurits Kjśrgaard laying off Roko Simic's pass to Gloukh for the teenager to fire home.
However, Inter restored its lead just seven minutes later when Calhanoglu drilled a penalty into the bottom left corner after Frattesi was bundled over by Salzburg midfielder Lucas Gourna-Douath.
Lautaro Martinez thought he had sealed the match late on but his strike was ruled out for offside.
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