Home Champions League Martinez leads Inter into the Champions League knockout stage.

Martinez leads Inter into the Champions League knockout stage.

by Chris Wright
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A single goal by forward Lautaro Martinez helped Inter Milan secure a 1-0 victory against Salzburg, enabling them to advance to the Champions League knockout stage after just two matchdays.

Despite not dominating the match against the home team, Inter managed to secure all three points thanks to Martinez’s late penalty kick. Inter’s narrow victory also helped Real Sociedad secure their spot in the knockout stage. Sociedad and Inter have 10 points after four matches, while Salzburg (3 points) and Benfica (0 points) cannot advance to the Champions League knockout stage.

Leading Serie A and securing a spot in the Champions League Round of 16, Martinez has been a key contributor with 14 goals this season. In the match against Salzburg, the Argentine striker came on as a substitute for Alexis Sanchez in the 68th minute. Martinez came close to scoring in the 82nd minute when his header was blocked by Salzburg’s goalkeeper, Alexander Schlager. However, it took just three more minutes for Martinez to shine with a successful penalty kick after Mads Bidstrup used his hand to block a shot by Nicolo Barella in the penalty area.

Martinez (number 10) celebrates the only goal in the match at Salzburg’s stadium.

This goal helped Inter win their second consecutive match against Salzburg in two weeks. In the rematch at the Red Bull Arena on November 8th, the visiting team initially struggled in the first half but improved their performance once Martinez entered the field. The home team, Salzburg, displayed strength in the first 45 minutes but failed to capitalize on their chances, ultimately paying the price at the end of the match.

After this defeat, Austrian representatives are now aiming for a place in the Europa League. In the same Group D, Benfica, the team Inter eliminated in the quarter-finals last season, is struggling with four consecutive losses.

Another Italian representative, Napoli, faced disappointment despite playing at home. Despite having 66% possession and taking 26 shots, Napoli couldn’t secure a win against Union Berlin, a team that had lost all three of its previous matches. Matteo Politano put the home team ahead in the 39th minute with a fortunate goal, but David Datro Fofana equalized for the German side with a counter-attack.

In Group C, Napoli is still in contention to advance with seven points, trailing group leaders Real by five points but ahead of third-placed Braga by four points. Rudi Garcia’s team could secure an early spot in the knockout stage if they defeat Real in the fifth matchday or if Braga loses to Union Berlin.

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