At the halfway point of the Group Stage, Inter are facing an uphill task in progressing in the Champions League after a 3-2 defeat to Real Madrid on Tuesday.
The Nerazzurri found themselves trailing 2-0 after gifting goals to Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos, only to drag themselves back into the tie courtesy of Lautaro Martinez and Ivan Perisic.
Yet, with just 10 minutes remaining, substitute Rodrygo worked space for himself to net a winner for the hosts, leaving Inter stranded at the bottom of Group B.
Inter their own worst enemy
Whilst it is no mean feat to come away from a match at Real Madrid with points, the manner in which Inter fell to defeat will infuriate coach Antonio Conte and may prove decisive at the end of the campaign.
Just as Real Madrid seemed to be on the back foot, Achraf Hakimi’s dreadful backpass was intercepted by Benzema and the hosts were handed the cheapest of leads. Minutes later, the Nerazzurri failed to pick up Sergio Ramos from a corner to allow him a free header, as they fell behind to two completely avoidable goals.
Just as they squandered chance after chance in a stalemate with Shakhtar Donetsk and laboured in a 2-2 draw against Borussia Monchengladbach, Inter shot themselves in the foot when presented with an opportunity to get points on the board.
Opportunity to turn screw on Real Madrid wasted
In a somewhat surprising turn of events, the two heavyweights of the group found themselves behind Shakhtar and Gladbach in the table before kick-off.
Indeed, Real Madrid were stunned by Shakhtar at home before scraping a late draw against Gladbach, and victory for Inter on Tuesday could have piled further pressure on their Spanish opponents and dealt a significant blow to a genuine competitor for qualification.
Instead, the heat is firmly on the Nerazzurri as they remain the only winless team in the group. Inter cannot afford another sloppy display akin to their opening three games, which have only yielded two points.
There is hope yet
Whilst the table makes for grim reading so far for Inter, with three matches remaining all is not lost. Rodrygo’s late winner will be a bitter pill to swallow, but the Biscione can take heart from a superb fightback from two goals down, all done without top scorer Romelu Lukaku.
Capping a fine display with a truly magnificent assist for Martinez, the young midfielder is adding much-needed verve and creativity in a more attacking role, and his link-up play with Lukaku and Martinez could prove crucial.