Ramy Bensebaini and Jonas Hofmann found the net for Borussia Mönchengladbach but a Romelu Lukaku brace for Inter Milan meant the Foals had to settle for a point with a 2-2 draw in Wednesday's UEFA Champions League group stage opener.
Back in the Champions League group stage for the first time in four years, Marco Rose's men travelled to Italy in the hope of getting their European challenge off to a positive start. The first half was tough going though for the Bundesliga outfit. Though Alassane Plea lined up alongside Marcus Thuram and Breel Embolo up front, the visitors struggled for attacking momentum. On the plus side, they were solid at the back with Matthias Ginter and Nico Elvedi in particular keeping Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez under control. Only once did Lukaku escape their attentions, and he fired wide of the far post just before the break.
Shortly after it, however, the Belgium international extended his scoring streak to nine successive European ties, turning the ball low past Yann Sommer after Gladbach had failed to clear. But the visitors found more fluidity going forward after the break, even if it took a beautifully struck Bensebaini penalty to pull them level after Thuram had been brought down by ex-Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen man Arturo Vidal. Gladbach then took the lead when Hofmann burst beyond the Inter backline and fired low through the legs of Samir Handanovic, but the visitors were unable to hold on until full time, as Lukaku scuffed home a corner from close range to earn Inter a share of the spoils.
- Bensebaini scored on his Champions League debut.
- Hofmann has been Gladbach's most potent attacking force so far this season with a goal and three assists from four league games.
- He has never lost when he has scored in a competitive match for Gladbach, winning nine times and drawing four.
- Hofmann recently made his Germany debut alongside clubmate Neuhaus. With Ginter joining them in the squad, the Foals were the best-represented team after Bayern among Joachim Löw's most recent group.
- Gladbach are back in the Champions League for the first time in four seasons. They led the Bundesliga for eight weeks last term, eventually settling for fourth.
- Inter have scored after the 85th-minute in six of their last eight Champions League games.
Inter: Handanovic (c) - De Vrij, D'Ambrosio, Kolarov - Darmian, Vidal, Eriksen (Brozovic 79'), Perisic (Bastoni 79') - Barella - Lukaku, Sanchez (Martinez 46')
Unused subs: Padelli, Stankovic, Rannochia, Boscolo Chio, Moretti, Nainggolan, Squizzato, Pinamonti
Out: Gagliardini (not included), Hakimi (not included), Radu (not included), Young (not included), Vecino (knee), Skriniar (not included)
Coach: Antonio Conte
Gladbach: Sommer (c) - Lainer, Ginter, Elvedi, Bensebaini - Hofmann, Kramer, Neuhaus - Thuram (Wolf 90+5'), Plea (Stindl 90'), Embolo (Hermann 74')
Unsused subs: Sippel, Grün, Lang, Traoré, Wendt, Jantschke, Reitz
Out: Benes (match fitness), Lazaro (match fitness), Poulsen (shoulder), Zakaria (match fitness), Villalba (muscular)
Coach: Marco Rose
As it happened!
FULL TIME! INTER 2-2 GLADBACH
It's all over at the San Siro. It could have been better, but it certainly could have been worse too. A point to start with.
Kolarov sends a free-kick up over the wall...and into the side-netting. That was close. Sommer would never have got there had the Serbia international's effort been going in.
90' GOAL! INTER 2-2 GLADBACH
The corner is another beauty from the right, and Lukaku turns the ball over the line from very close range at the back post. Inter are level.
89' SOMMER STOP
Darmian with a massive leap to send a header goal wards, and Sommer tips it over in style...
84' GOAL! INTER 1-2 GLADBACH
Thuram touches the ball back to Hermann just inside the Gladbach half...he plays a wonderful first-time ball in behind the Inter defence, and Hofmann bides his time before slotting the ball between Handanovic's legs. What a lovely goal and Gladbach on course for a famous win now.
81' MARTINEZ OFF THE WOODWORK
A ball arrows in from the right from Darmian, and Martinez fires a near-post volley off the left-hand post of Sommer's goal. That was some strike, and Sommer would have been beaten had it been on target.
79' THURAM THREAT
Ginter rises to head a free-kick into the six-yard area and Thuram is left holding his head in his hands as his attempt on goal ricochets behind off an Inter defender.
77' BETTER FROM BORUSSIA
The visitors have enjoyed more time, if not created more danger, in the Inter final third. Let's hope they can find some inspiration to break down the hosts.
73' THAT WAS CLOSE
Corner comes in with real pace from the right, and Perisic can't quite turn it into the goal at the far post. A let-off for Gbach.
67' HANDANOVIC TO THE RESCUE
The Slovenian, clad all in red, rushes from his area to clear after a through ball threatened to find a trio of Gladbach forwards.
64' DARMIAN DANGER
The ex-Manchester United full-back sends a ball across the face of Sommer's goal - Perisic wasn't too far away from it at the back post, and was all alone.
63' GOAL!! INTER 1-1 GLADBACH
Bensebaini has the responsibility...and though Handanovic goes the right way, it's perfectly struck and placed, right in the corner, and the visitors are level.
61' PENALTY GLADBACH
And then the Dutch referee goes over to look at the replay himself...and awards the visitors a penalty.
60' THURAM TAKEN DOWN...
Vidal's challenge sees Thuram hit the turf inside the penalty area...referee Bjorn Kuiper's waves Gladbach's claims away initially..
56' MORE PLEA PLEASE
The French forward pops up on the edge of the Inter area to fire a shot that is well blocked - we've not seen enough of Gladbach's 2019/20 joint-leading scorer.
53' GLADBACH NEED TO GET A GRIP
The game is very much under Inter's influence right now.
49' GOAL! INTER 1-0 GLADBACH
A fabulous ball finds Martinez in behind the Gladbach backline - the sub heads across goal, D'Ambrosio keeps it in on the far side, cuts it back for Darmian, his miscued shot falls for Lukaku, who swivels and fires low past Sommer for the opening goal.
46' 2ND HALF UNDERWAY
And Lautaro Martinez comes on for Alexis Sanchez for the hosts - a sign of just how well Gladbach have defended.
45+1' HALF-TIME: INTER 0-0 GLADBACH
Goalless at the break, and Gladbach need to find some rhythm going forward, but on the plus side, they have defended really well, Elvedi in particular.
Lovely one-touch exchange between Thuram, Plea and Embolo, whose ball into the middle is just out of reach of the onrushing Hofmann.
41' THAT WAS CLOSE
Lukaku wiggles away from Kramer and Hofmann and fires across goal...his shot zips just wide of the far post. Sommer looked like he had that covered.
39' INTER CAMPING OUT...
In the Gladbach half with just over five minutes to go to the break, but the Bundesliga outfit are looking solid enough.
36' TOOTHLESS FOALS
For now at least - the visitors have yet to muster a shot at goal. On the plus side, Inter haven't been very dangerous either.
32' ELVEDI 1 LUKAKU 0
The Gladbach centre-back flicks away an Eriksen corner that the Inter striker thought was going to drop for him.
31' ROSE IN GREY
The Gladbach boss smart but casual in the technical area in a grey sweater - his side have been a little colourless too.
29' NOT QUITE CLICKING
The front three of Gladbach are trying, but so far failing to link up effectively. Fortunately, Inter are less than fluid going forward too.
D'Ambrosio feels the full weight of a committed challenge from Breel Embolo - the Inter bench aren't happy, but there's no card for the Switzerland forward.
21' ERIKSEN DENIED
The Denmark international's first-time shot from D'Ambrosio's cutback was goal bound, but a Gladbach foot shot out to mean Sommer didn't even have to make a save. Still, that was a bit of a scare.
18' ELVEDI RECOVERY
Lukaku's flick finds Sanchez, who's looked busy early on, but Elvedi recovers ground quickly to block the Chilean's attempted cross.
15' PERISIC THREAT
The 2019/20 Champions League winner has a huge amount of space on the left...Lukaku picks him out and Perisic sends a cross that passes through the Gladbach penalty area without anyone making contact. That could have been a lot worse for Marco Rose's men.
12' SOMMER SAVE
Easy enough for the Gladbach keeper as Eriksen arrows a free-kick from distance right at the visiting captain.
8' GINTER AGAIN
The 2014 FIFA World Cup winner just nicks the ball away from Sanchez on the edge of the box...
5' GLADBACH STAND FIRM
Solid header away from Ginter as an Inter free-kick arrows into the box - we'll need plenty more from where that came from, Matthias!
3' HIGH TEMPO OPENING
Both teams pinging the ball about nicely on the San Siro pitch - Gbach matching the hosts in getting out the blocks smartly.
1' 1ST HALF KICKS OFF
And here we go in the San Siro - following Real Madrid's defeat to Shakhtar just now, the group is wide open.
With Stindl on the bench, the Switzerland international leads the side out...of a different tunnel to Inter. And then they all line up for THAT music.
THURAM THE ITALIAN
Though plays for France's U21 side, Marcus Thuram was actually born in Italy while his father, the FIFA World Cup and EURO 2000 winner Lilian, was playing for Parma.
NIGHT OF 1STS
Neuhaus, Lainer, Bensebaini, Plea and Thuram are all making their Champions League debuts tonight.
INTER TEAM NEWS
Familiar faces in ex-Bayern men Ivan Perisic, who won the competition with the Bundesliga champions last season, and Arturo Vidal in the hosts' starting XI. There's a surprise there too: Alexis Sanchez gets the nod alongside Romelu Lukaku.
GLADBACH TEAM NEWS
A surprise not to see Stindl in the starting XI at the San Siro, but Marco Rose opting for the pacier trio of Alassane Plea, Marcus Thuram and Breel Embolo. Those three will be a handful.
STINDL ON THE GROUP
“My initial reaction was ‘Wow, what a group!'" the Gladbach club captain told kicker magazine. "I don’t want to make any predictions, but we’re ready for the challenge. Even though it's a very difficult group, we want to fulfil our own ambitions and are ready to give our all to do so.”
For the first time in four years, Mönchengladbach are back in the Champions League - it was a close-run thing with Leverkusen last season, but Marco Rose's Foals nipped in ahead of Die Werkself late in the campaign. Now, can they make the step up? It's a challenging group: Inter, Shakhtar and Real Madrid
WELCOME ALONG EVERYONE!
After a mixed bag of results in the UEFA Champions League last night for RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund, holders Bayern Munich and Borussia Mönchengladbach are in action tonight.