Malcom and Icardi strike late in San Siro stalemate

Barcelona secured qualification to the Champions League knockout stages with a 1-1 draw at Inter.

Malcom struck as a substitute inside the last 10 minutes to notch his first competitive goal for the club.

Mauro Icardi’s late equaliser shared the spoils at San Siro.

Tottenham’s win at home to PSV means that top spot is yet to be secured but Barcelona remain in a strong position in Group B.

A finishing touch was the only thing that eluded Barcelona in the first 45 minutes. Each player took it in turns to see who could go closest but Samir Handanovic seemed unbeatable between the sticks. The Slovenian stretched to keep out Ousmane Dembele’s speculative strike but had to watch in hope as Suarez span inside and sent a shot inches over the bar.

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The Uruguayan striker had 6 goals in his last 4 games going into this one and stood a figure rich in confidence. Persistence has paved the way for goals in recent games and the striker went close several times in the first half, first with a chip that dropped just wide of the far post. Another effort was dragged wide from a tight angle before Handanovic denied his only shot on target.

Inter’s opportunities were extremely limited, mainly down to the fact that they were pinned inside their own half. Kwando Asamoah couldn’t divert a low cross anywhere near Ter Stegen’s goal after 17 minutes, summing up his team’s first-half luck in the opposition area. However, they were fortunate to go in level at the break.

Barcelona’s attempts at finding an opener almost became comical in the second period. Philippe Coutinho stung the busy palms of Handanovic before Suarez stumbled over the ball trying to get on the end of a Dembele cross. The Inter ballboys jumped into action once more to collect Clement Lenglet’s header that ended up dipping too late.

Suarez’s joy turned into fury and frustration in a matter of seconds after he found the net, only for the officials to rule it out, deeming the ball to have crossed out for a goal kick before the cross came in.

Lapses in concentration were seeping into Barça’s game. First Gerard Pique blocked Mauro Icardi from a strike at goal before Matteo Politano was given the space and time but couldn’t guide his header on target. Minutes later, Politano was brilliantly found by Borja Valero’s overhead pass but his shot was deflected wide and a few twists and turns on the edge of the box.

One misfit yet talented signing was replaced by another as Dembele made way for Malcom. However, just as Vinicius Jr changed Real Madrid’s luck on Saturday, his compatriot proved to be the difference. The summer signing, who almost moved to Italy to join Roma, cut inside and snuck a left-footed shot into the back of the net and Handanovic was finally beaten.

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However, so was Ter Stegen. In the absence of Lionel Messi, Icardi took centre stage and flew the flag for Argentina as he turned and squirmed a strike past the German goalkeeper from close range. Both goals had led charmed lives but in the end Barcelona will be the ones wondering how they came away without all three points.

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