Champions League

'Not an easy time': Last-gasp Lukaku rescues Inter draw against 'Gladbach

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Romelu Lukaku (Getty Images)
Romelu Lukaku (Getty Images)

Romelu Lukaku scored twice, including a last-gasp equaliser, to rescue a 2-2 draw for Inter Milan in their Champions League opener against Borussia Moenchengladbach on Wednesday.

Lukaku put Inter ahead after 49 minutes in the San Siro only for the Bundesliga club to hit back with a 63rd-minute Ramy Bensebaini penalty and a Jonas Hofmann strike six minutes from time.

But Lukaku had the last word sending the ball in from close range in the final minute.

"For me today's result is not a good one, because we can do better. We must continue to work and be strong mentally," said Lukaku. 

"It is not an easy time for us, but we must keep believing in our quality. 

"We have to be stronger and in defence we have to do better too. We conceded two goals because of our mistakes, we wasted many chances. In games like today, you pay."

Earlier, in the same Group B, Shakhtar Donetsk went top after shocking Real Madrid 3-2 in Spain.

Inter are third in the group behind Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Antonio Conte's depleted Inter side had been looking to bounce back from a 2-1 derby defeat to AC Milan at the weekend, but were struggling with five players missing through coronavirus.

Full-back Achraf Hakimi was ruled out hours before the game, joining four other Inter players unavailable due to positive tests -- Milan Skriniar, Roberto Gagliardini, Andrei Radu and Ashley Young.

Hakimi joined former three-time Champions League winners Inter from Real Madrid in the summer and had impressed in his opening matches. "It was not easy today to receive the news at 5pm that Hakimi was positive," said Conte. 

"He trained with us until this morning, we had prepared. But I told the lads to face this situation head on. 

"We played well against a team that has great potential. 

"I don't remember any Handanovic saves while we had chances to win the game. I have nothing to criticise the lads for."

Matteo Darmian took the place of Moroccan international Hakimi with Dane Christian Eriksen starting behind Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez, who was favoured to start over Lautaro Martinez.

Alessandro Bastoni returned to the group after recovering from the coronavirus, and came off the bench in the second half.

Borussia coach Marco Rose opted for Breel Embolo, Hofmann and Marcus Thuram to support Alassane Plea.

Inter had the best of the first half with Lukaku missing a chance just before the break, connecting with a Sanchez cross, only to send the ball across the face of goal.

Lautaro replaced Sanchez for the second half with the Argentine striker nodding wide, before Lukaku broke through amid a scramble in front of goal.

But Moenchengladbach pulled level from the spot after 63 minutes when an Arturo Vidal foul on Thuram was confirmed after a VAR review.

Bensebaini stepped up to leave Samir Handanovic in the Inter goal with no chance.

Lautaro rattled the post, but it was the Bundesliga side that grabbed the second when Hofmann connected with a Florian Neuhaus cross.

The former two-time UEFA Cup winners thought they had done enough but Lukaku came through with the last-gasp equaliser for his sixth goal in five games this season.

"Overall we made the most of our opportunities even if you can see we still lack a bit of experience," said Rose ahead of their next game against Real Madrid.

"Real Madrid will be angry, but we take away only positive things from Milan, even if after all these years without Champions League we may not be at the top right away."

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Fixtures
Tue 01 Dec 20 19:55 PM (SAST)
Shakhtar Donetsk
Real Madrid
NSK Olimpijs'kyj
Tue 01 Dec 20 19:55 PM (SAST)
Lokomotiv Moskva
Salzburg
RZD Arena
Tue 01 Dec 20 22:00 PM (SAST)
Liverpool
Ajax
Anfield
Results
Wed 25 Nov 20
Bayern Munchen 3
Salzburg 1
Wed 25 Nov 20
Atletico Madrid 0
Lokomotiv Moskva 0
Wed 25 Nov 20
Internazionale 0
Real Madrid 2
Logs
Team
P
W
PTS
1. Bayern Munchen Group A
4
4
12
2. Atletico Madrid Group A
4
1
5
3. Lokomotiv Moskva Group A
4
0
3
4. Salzburg Group A
4
0
1