On Tuesday, Romelu Lukaku maintained Inter Milan’s Champions League hopes alive, scoring two second-half goals to wrap a spectacular 3-2 win in their second to the last group game at Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Lukaku’s double gave Inter their first Champions League victory in a rollercoaster match this season, blasting Group B fully open abreast of next week’s finished round of group matches.
After Shakhtar Donetsk defeat Real Madrid 2-0 earlier on Tuesday, Gladbach still sits at the top the team, but they are now just three points ahead of Inter’s downstream part.
All four teams still have a chance to compete next week, with just a single point segregating the three top sides.
Inter set out to smash Gladbach on the break, in need of a win at any cost, with Matteo Darmian triggering early complications for the German defence on the right wing.
After a clean passing move between Lukaku and Roberto Gagliardini, it was Darmian who gave Inter the advantage on 17 minutes, headbutting goalkeeper Yann Sommer from a tight angle.
Alassane Plea equalized Valentino Lazaro for Gladbach on the half-time stroke, moving in a pinpoint pass from Inter loanee.
With Inter disturbed by the opener, soon after the break, Marcus Thuram nearly steered the hosts in front. Yet the Italians strike back, before Lukaku reestablished the lead, with Lautaro Martinez hit the crossbar.
Lukaku eventually found space to shoot for 65 minutes after being suppressed by the Gladbach defense for most of the game, then sent a low shot screeching past Sommer.
Seven minutes later, the Belgian doubled the advantage, slotting Achraf Hakimi’s cross home at the end of a clinically executed counter-attack.
Just two minutes after the replay, Gladbach strike back equally clinically, Plea whipping the ball past Samir Handanovic on the break.
Seven minutes from time, the Frenchman scored a goal again, but after Breel Embolo was ruled to have obstructed the outlook of the goalkeeper, the goal was disallowed for offside.
With the team now prepared on a knife edge, when they host Shakhtar in their final group game next Wednesday, Inter wish to reach an unlikely attempt to escape.
For the first time in the Champions League epoch, Gladbach, in the meantime, travels to Madrid with the intention of qualifying from the group stage.