Match Report: Reds reach Champions League last eight despite Inter defeat

Liverpool edged into the quarter-finals of the Champions League despite a 1-0 defeat by 10-man Internazionale on Tuesday night.

Jürgen Klopp’s side entered the second leg with a 2-0 advantage from the San Siro reverse meeting three weeks prior.

Lautaro Martinez’s stunner on the hour set up a tense finale at Anfield, though Alexis Sanchez was sent off for a second bookable offence just minutes later, which halted the visitors’ progress in their bid to mount a fightback.

The Reds sealed a spot in the final eight of the competition as they managed the closing exchanges on a blustery night in L4.

Team news

Klopp made four changes to his starting XI as Thiago Alcantara returned from a hamstring injury to take up a place in midfield.

He was joined in the line-up by Joel Matip, Curtis Jones and Diogo Jota, while Luis Diaz, Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita and Ibrahima Konate were the players to make way from Saturday’s win over West Ham United.

Sadio Mane claimed his 50th Champions League appearance.

First half

With the onus on Inter, the game started at a slow tempo under the Anfield lights as the Reds eased their way into the match.

Denzel Dumfries was the only player from either side to have a sight at goal in the early exchanges. The Dutchman saw his tame volley from the edge of the area gathered with ease by Alisson Becker, though.

International teammate Virgil van Dijk later responded in Liverpool’s first look of the encounter as the centre-back nodded a Trent Alexander-Arnold corner goalwards.

The reigning Serie A champions were making life uncomfortable for Klopp’s side without ever creating any real danger.

A little over midway through the first half the game was briefly halted by referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz as medics reported to an incident in the Kop, before play resumed a short while later.

Following the restart, Alexander-Arnold whipped in two dangerous set-plays with the Reds looking to strike. Matip first broke free to hit the crossbar with a looping header and Van Dijk then saw a glancing effort blocked by a retreating defender.

As half-time approached, Alisson was forced into the first meaningful save of the evening, Hakan Calhanoglu hitting a low free-kick from the right, demanding a strong hand from the Brazilian.

Alexander-Arnold responded with a free-kick of his own deep into added time, but his curling effort fell the wrong side of the post.

Second half

Sanchez went closest immediately following the interval but his header was well saved before the offside flag thwarted the Chilean’s advances.

The opening appeared to spark Liverpool into life, Alexander-Arnold forcing a save from Samir Handanovic in response in the opposite box.

Mohamed Salah then hit the post from inside the area as the visiting goalkeeper failed to connect with a punch following good work from Thiago and Jota to unlock the backline.

On the hour, the game hit a frantic pace and Martinez saw a shot blocked from the penalty spot with the ball spinning inches past the post.

The 24-year-old subsequently hauled his side back into the tie thanks to a stunning individual effort from outside the box.

Celebrations had barely halted, however, when Sanchez was handed a second yellow card for a late follow-through on Fabinho. The visitors protested and one of Simone Inzaghi’s backroom staff was also sent from the touchline in the aftermath.

Salah again struck the woodwork in the closing stages following a clever ball from Mane, but the final whistle arrived with the aggregate score still 2-1 to Liverpool, who move forward to the quarter-finals next month.

Simos Sakka