Inter Milan scores late to earn Champions League draw with Sociedad
SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain (AP) — Lautaro Martínez’s scoring streak continued as he helped Inter Milan snatch a 1-1 draw at Real Sociedad on Wednesday and prevent what would have been a dream return to the Champions League for the Spanish side.
Brais Méndez’s early goal looked set to see Sociedad mark its first match back among Europe’s elite in a decade with an impressive win over last season’s runner-up.
And the 36,000 Sociedad fans in the stands were reveling in the occasion as their team played with relentless intensity, excitement and eagerness to dominate its more illustrious opponent. But in the end it was made to pay for its profligacy as Martínez pounced with three minutes remaining, netting his sixth goal of the fledgling season.
“I’m not satisfied because we did not play well, we didn’t do what we had planned,” Martínez told Amazon Prime. “We started the first half badly, we were in a lot of difficulties so we have to improve a lot.
“It was important not to lose because the group would have become more complicated otherwise. So it’s important to be taking a point home.”
Inter midfielder Nicolò Barella had been shown a red card but that was rescinded on video review.
Salzburg won 2-0 at Benfica in the other Group D match.
Inter, which lost to Manchester City in last season’s final, went into the match full of confidence after its perfect start to the season continued with a 5-1 demolition of AC Milan in Saturday’s derby match.
That was the only goal the Nerazzurri had conceded this campaign but its defense looked shaky from the start in San Sebastian.
Ander Barrenetxea thumped the left upright but Inter did not heed that early warning and found itself behind with less than four minutes on the clock.
Alessandro Bastoni had already struggled to control a pass from goalkeeper Yann Sommer when he was pressed by two Sociedad players and lost the ball on the edge of the area, allowing Méndez to sweep it into the bottom right corner.
Sociedad had several chances to double its lead and almost did so on the stroke of halftime but Robin Le Normand headed Takefusa Kubo’s cross over the bar from four yards.
The home side did not let its energy diminish after the break and Sommer had to make an impressive save at point-blank range to keep out Mikel Oyarzabal’s header.
Inter’s problems appeared to have been added to when Barella was shown a straight red card for a presumed stamp on Méndez.
The Inter midfielder vehemently protested his innocence, remonstrating that he had simply got his foot tangled up in Méndez’s legs and was trying to pull away. After reviewing the incident on the pitchside monitor, referee Michael Oliver revoked his original decision and shook Barella’s hand in apology.
Substitute Marcus Thuram, who has been one of the revelations of this season, thought he had leveled with 11 minutes remaining but it was ruled out for offside.
Inter did get the equalizer eight minutes later, with its first shot on target and in somewhat fortunate circumstances as Davide Frattesi’s wayward shot turned into an assist for Martínez, who smashed it into the back of the net.
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