Inter Milan comes back from three goals down for draw at Benfica
LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Serie A leader Inter Milan came back from three goals down for a 3-3 draw at already eliminated Benfica in the Champions League on Wednesday, keeping last season's finalist in contention to win its group.
Marko Arnautovic, Davide Frattesi and Alexis Sanchez (with a penalty) scored for Inter after João Mario’s first-half hat trick for the hosts.
Inter, which had already secured passage to the knockout round, remained second but level on points with Group D leader Real Sociedad, which drew 0-0 with Salzburg.
Real Sociedad tops the group with 11 points, followed by Inter (11), Salzburg (4) and Benfica (1).
Inter rested strikers Lautaro Martinez and Marcus Thuram and a host of other regulars at the start but Lautaro and Thuram came on in the second half and Thuram earned the penalty that Sanchez converted.
Mario, who formerly played for Inter, took advantage of a series of defensive errors to score in the fifth, 13th and 34th minutes past goalkeeper Emil Audero, who was making his Inter debut.
Benfica ended with 10 men after Antonio Silva was sent off for a foul on Nicolò Barella — and Barella nearly won it with a shot of the crossbar in stoppage time.
Benfica was knocked out by Inter in last season’s quarterfinals and also lost 1-0 to the Nerazzurri in Milan last month.
Inter coach Simone Inzaghi chose to rest his regulars in between Serie A matches against Juventus — a 1-1 draw — and defending champion Napoli.
The group winner will be determined when Inter hosts Real Sociedad on Dec. 12.
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