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Immediate Reaction: Real Madrid 3 - 2 Inter Milan

A cracking game at Alfredo di Stefano Stadium, and Real Madrid pick up an essential three points

Real Madrid v Internazionale - UEFA Champions League Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Real Madrid 3 - 2 Inter Milan (Benzema, Ramos, Rodrygo; Lautaro, Perisic). Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Player ratings, post-game quotes, post-game podcast, tactical analysis, and plenty more.

The two group-favourites squared off tonight at Alfredo di Stefano, both with an urgent need of three points to get their European run back on track.

The game started off as a banger. With so much on the line, fans — neutrals included — were treated with multiple chances within the first few minutes. Real Madrid’s quick, direct passing and movement into the channels got them several goalscoring chances: Marco Asensio has a shot tipped over the bar, Fede Valverde had a great opportunity in the box as he hit his unchallenged shot into the ground and over the bar, and Toni Kroos had a shot go just wide from the top of the box.

As feared, Real Madrid’s high line was vulnerable, and despite looking like the better team, they conceded two chances back-to-back. One of them involved Achraf Hakimi sneaking behind Mendy (and Barella eventually hitting the bar), and Lautaro getting a shot saved by Courtois.

Still, Real Madrid kept Inter in check for the most part. They pressed well and unnerved Inter’s build-up. Defensively, their transition defense mopped up most leakage. (A huge part of this was how well both Lucas Vazquez and Fede Valverde covered ground and tracked Lautaro and Ashley Young on the break.)

Naturally, Real Madrid’s energy on the press waned, but Inter’s passing out of the back wasn’t good enough to exploit it.

In the mother of all story-lines, Hakimi gifted Real Madrid’s opening goal:

Eight minutes later, Sergio Ramos made it a 2 - 0 with his signature goal:

Inter then pulled one back in the 35th minute. A brilliant pass from Barella found Lautaro sneaking goalside of Varane:

At half-time, at 2 - 1, Real Madrid were in control, but this game was volatile, and both teams were still in it with plenty at stake. Here’s a quick thread of half-time analysis.

The second half was much brighter for Inter. They dialled up their press, and Real Madrid couldn’t match their energy nor string meaningful passes together. (Though there were some pretty build-up sequences from the team which ultimately broke down in Inter’s half, mostly due to Benzema and Casemiro’s poor passing.)

Casemiro’s poor passing contributed to an Inter equalizer in the 68th minute:

Just a few minutes before Perisic’s goal, Zidane made a double-sub: Vinicius and Rodrygo on for Asensio and Hazard. The two Brazilians broke Inter for the game-winner:

We’ll break this down in much more detail in the coming hours.

Here is the Zoom link for tonight’s post-game podcast.

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