MILAN (AFP) – Liverpool put one foot in the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday with a 2-0 win at Inter Milan which came after a hard-fought encounter at a bubbling San Siro.
Goals from Roberto Firmino (AP pic below) and Mohamed Salah in the last quarter of an hour gave Liverpool a commanding lead ahead of the last-16 second leg at Anfield in three weeks’ time.
The result was harsh on Italian champions Inter, who dominated the contest in front of a passionate home crowd for long periods after the break and struck the woodwork through Hakan Calhanoglu in the 16th minute.
However, they could not find their way past a Liverpool backline impeccably marshalled by Virgil van Dijk and were punished later on by a Reds team who have now won their last seven matches in all competitions.
Liverpool established territorial dominance, with a Salah shot well blocked and Thiago Alcantara shooting over from the edge of the box.
However, it was Inter who had the best chance of the half through Calhanoglu, who after being fed by the rampaging Ivan Perisic let off a shot from a tight angle which beat Alisson but smashed out off the crossbar.
The away side punished them with their first proper chance of the second half, Firmino beating Alessandro Bastoni to Andy Robertson’s 75th-minute corner and guiding his header past Samir Handanovic.
Perisic flashed a distance effort just over but then Salah gave Liverpool a huge advantage eight minutes after Firmino’s opener with a fortunate strike which squirmed home and gave the Egyptian an incredible eighth goal in seven Champions League games this season.
With the San Siro atmosphere thoroughly deflated, Liverpool then calmly saw out the remainder of the match to almost guarantee themselves a place in next month’s draw for the last eight.