Inter, Shakhtar out of Champions League

MILAN (AP) — Inter Milan and Shakhtar Donetsk were both eliminated from the Champions League after drawing 0-0 at San Siro yesterday in their final group game.

Inter’s Lautaro Martínez went closest when he hit the crossbar early on but the Nerazzurri became the only Italian team not to progress.

Inter failed to make it out of the group stage for the third straight year. But coach Antonio Conte, who has been in charge for two of those campaigns, seemed to blame refereeing decisions more than his players.

“Throughout this Champions League campaign we have not been fortunate with referees and the VAR,” Conte said. “Inter was not respected if you go back and look at all the situations that were not checked.”

Inter is out of all European competition after finishing bottom of the group, while Shakhtar will go into the Europa League. The Ukrainian side finished level on points with second-place Borussia Mönchengladbach but had a worse head-to-head record.

Inter also drew the first match against Shakhtar 0-0.

Inter Milan players leave the pitch at the end of the Champions League Group B football match against Shakhtar Donetsk at the San Siro stadium in Milan. PHOTO: AP

It beat the Ukrainian side 5-0 in the Europa League semifinals in August. “All the teams that face us shake up their normal way of playing, Shakhtar changed with respect to the Europa League match,” an increasingly irate Conte said in a post-match interview. “We also have a plan B but we won’t say what it is because otherwise they will neutralise that too.”

Going into the final round, all four teams in the group had a chance of reaching the knockout stages. Shakhtar was guaranteed to advance with a victory, while Inter had to win and hope the other match didn’t end in a draw.

Nicolò Barella was passed fit to start despite struggling with an ankle injury and he almost helped Inter get off to the perfect start with a cross that Martínez fired against the crossbar.

Inter dominated in midfield but both sides struggled to create clear scoring opportunities.

Shakhtar’s teenage goalkeeper Anatolii Trubin pulled off a fingertip save in the second half to tip Romelu Lukaku’s header over the bar after a free kick delivery from Marcelo Brozović.

Trubin made another good save in stoppage time to deny substitute Christian Eriksen.