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Sociedad draw at Inter, win group in impressive return to Champions League

Arsen Zakharyan Real Sociedad Arsen Zakharyan - The Canadian Press

MILAN (AP) — Real Sociedad capped an impressive return to Europe’s elite by winning its Champions League group for the first time.

A 0-0 draw at Inter Milan on Tuesday was enough to see the Spanish team top Group D, ahead of the Nerazzurri — last season's runner-up — on goal difference. The two teams finished the group stage level on points and on head-to-head after they also drew their opening match.

“It’s something historic, an incredible night,” Sociedad coach Imanol Alguacil said. “It is a pleasure to be their coach, managing to fight like we did today against a great Inter, with a really strong coach, in this stadium is credit to our attitude.

“It’s really something to be proud about. This group of guys is doing something incredible, I think we will only fully realize in several years’ time. I’m proud to be their coach.”

Sociedad has conceded only two goals and is unbeaten in its first season back in the Champions League in a decade.

Both teams were already qualified for the knockout stage but the match at San Siro was a direct battle for the top spot and the chance to avoid some of the strongest teams in the last 16.

Inter coach Simone Inzaghi opted to rest two of his top players in Lautaro Martínez and Nicolò Barella, although both were brought on midway through the second half.

“I am very satisfied, I congratulated the lads on the group stage campaign, unbeaten, unfortunately we didn’t come first but ahead of us we had a team that proved itself to be really strong,” Inzaghi said.

“We didn’t concede anything and we had a couple of chances. We obviously wanted to win the match but I don’t have anything to reproach the guys about … We wanted to come first, we knew the draw would be easier but we will think about that in February.”

Sociedad dominated possession but struggled to turn that into attempts on target. Inter had the best of the chances but the majority of the attempts were blocked and it was a fairly quiet evening for Inter's Yann Sommer and Sociedad's Alejandro Remiro in the goals.

Inter had the best chance shortly before halftime as Marcus Thuram burst forward and found Alexis Sánchez. His first cross was blocked but he found Henrikh Mkhitaryan with his second, only for the Armenian’s volley to be cleared off the line by Sociedad defender Hamari Traoré.

Lautaro could have won it with almost the last kick of the match when, despite having options in the middle, he decided to go for it from an improbably tight angle and his effort flew narrowly wide.


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