Misfiring Inter and Shakhtar Donetsk missed out on the Champions League round of 16 following a goalless draw on a miserable Wednesday night at San Siro. (More Football News)
All four sides in Group B started the final round of matches with a chance of progressing and it was Real Madrid who advanced along with Borussia Monchengladbach after a 2-0 victory for the LaLiga giants.
Lautaro Martinez struck the crossbar early on and missed several other chances of a frustrating evening for Antonio Conte's side, who could not fashion a winner to put them through and ended up bottom of the group.
Injury-hit Shakhtar posed more of a threat in the second half but were similarly unable to make it count, though they do have the consolation of a place in the Europa League.
| FULL-TIMEDecember 9, 2020
Inter started strongly and they were almost in front when Martinez rattled the crossbar from eight yards out after Nicolo Barella squared the ball from the right just six minutes in.
Martinez then turned sharply and blazed over and Stefan de Vrij was unable to finish from close range when Shakhtar failed to deal with a corner.
Vitao was substituted after seemingly picking up an injury, having been fortunate to escape with a yellow card for a cynical foul on Romelu Lukaku, and Martinez headed straight at goalkeeper Anatolii Trubin late in a first half dominated by the Nerazzurri.
Trubin produced a fine reflex save to keep out Lukaku's glancing header early in the second half and Martinez sliced an effort wide as Inter's anxiety mounted.
Milan Skriniar's strike deflected just wide of the far post, but Shakhtar could have snatched an opener on the break, with Mateus Tete's shot palmed away by Samir Handanovic and Maycon firing off target following up.
Substitute Alexis Sanchez nodded a great chance over in the closing stages and then rose to meet a corner but saw his powerful header hit Lukaku, which summed up Inter's night, and Trubin tipped over Christian Eriksen's drive as both sides bowed out.
What does it mean? Inter out of Europe, Shakhtar fall short
Inter have now failed to advance from their Champions League group for three consecutive seasons and finished bottom of their group for the first time.
Conte's side thrashed Shakhtar at the semi-final stage of the Europa League in August before losing to Sevilla in the final and there will be no European glory for the Serie A side in 2021.
Shakhtar were missing a host of key men but will surely reflect on a missed opportunity, having shown very little ambition going forward.
Barella one positive for Inter
Inter made such a positive start and Barella caught the eye in the absence of the injured Arturo Vidal.
The midfielder was a doubt due to an ankle injury, but there were no signs that he was not fully fit – particularly in the first half.
Barella showed great vision and quality to pick out Martinez for a glorious early chance and worked tirelessly with and without the ball, making 35 passes in the Shakhtar half and also gaining possession on half a dozen occasions.
Martinez profligacy costly
Inter certainly had their chances and Martinez could have had at least a couple of goals on another night.
The Argentina striker was unfortunate to hit the woodwork early in the game, but only one of his five shots was on target.
Lukaku was not guilty of being as wasteful as his strike partner, but it was nonetheless an evening to forget for the Belgium international, who might have been able to celebrate a winner with Sanchez if he was not in the way of the Chile forward's header in stoppage time.
Key Opta Facts
- Inter have now been eliminated from the group stage in each of their last three appearances in the Champions League.
- Shakhtar Donetsk have been knocked out of the group stage in 11 of their 15 Champions League campaigns, including each of their last three.
- Inter finished their group stage with just six points, their lowest total in a Champions League group, while they also finished bottom of a group for the first time in the competition.
- Shakhtar have only lost one of their last seven Champions League away games (W3 D3), while this was the Ukrainian side’s first clean sheet in 18 away matches in the competition since beating BATE Borisov 7-0 in October 2014.
- Inter failed to win all of their home games in a Champions League group stage for the very first time (P3 W0 D2 L1).
Inter are on the road against Cagliari in Serie A on Sunday, while Shakhtar return to domestic action with a trip to FC Inhulets Petrove on the same day.