Remember the name. The Uruguayan midfielder has been a decent player for Inter, putting in solid performances whenever called upon. But two headers in dying stages of two separate games have almost guaranteed his place in their history. The first one is ofcourse the late late winner against Lazio on match week 38, the final day of the season last year. The goal ensured inter beat Lazio 3-2, defying all odds and jumping above them into the 4th and final champions league spot.
Fast forward a couple of months, and Inter are trailing against English giants Tottenham Hotspurs. Mauricio Pochettino’s side hasn’t been particularly impressive either, but a scuffed attempt from Christian Eriksen sneaked past Samir Handanovic, putting Inter under pressure in front of their home fans. Trailing to the solitary goal and time running out, there was only one man who could awaken the Milan giants. And their captain, their leader, their sharpshooter, Mauro Icardi, did just that.
When midfielders were rushing into the box to make their presence felt, Icardi drifted to the edge of it, hoping that Asamoah would spot him. The latter did just that, sending in a looping cross. The finish that Icardi produced from that ball was exquisite. It was a full blooded volley, the kind which the goalkeeper would be rooted by. Vorm dived desperately, but mostly to show the cameras that he tried. And just like that, Inter had gotten a lifeline.
The stage was set. Inter’s hero, the saviour, the man who made them worthy of playing in the Champions League, rose to the occasion. From a corner, Miranda nodded the ball towards the back post, and there he was, in the right place at the right time, guiding the ball past Vorm and conquering the Premier League giants. Serie A has woken up, and Inter Milan are leading from the front.
The drama and emotions at San Siro were a huge contrast to the calmness at the Camp Nou. Messi did what he does best, score free-kicks, irritate the opposition and he ended up scoring a brilliantly taken hat-trick. Ousmane Dembele chipped in with a goal to add gloss to the scoreline, as PSV went down to the FC Barcelona. It was a comfortable outing for the Catalan giants, with a red card to Samuel Umtiti being the only blip in an otherwise comfortable evening.
This was Group B. Meanwhile, in Group A, Atletico came roaring back to defeat the struggling AS Monaco in Monte Carlo. Borussia Dortmund, meanwhile, huffed and puffed to a narrow 1-0 victory, thanks to a goal from Christian Pulisic, which he would have known very little about.
The other big talking point of the day was the Anfield extravaganza. Liverpool welcomed French giants PSG at the Kop to test their pedigree and Champions League credentials. It was an entertaining game with both Liverpool pressing high and forcing PSG deep. Thiago Silva needed to put in a big performance, but he was unable to marshal his defense well, as Liverpool scored two first half goals and threatened to run away with it.
With Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani on the pitch, it was surprising to see Daniel Sturridge and and James Milner to step up and put Liverpool two goals to the good. Liverpool were on cruise control, Mane was terrorising PSG, especially one dummy which bamboozled Neymar, making the Brazilian superstar see stars at Anfield. But, Thomas Meunier, another unlikely goal scorer, popped up to bring PSG back into the game.
The game went into the HT break with Liverpool leading 2-1. They came back looking the more likely of the two teams to score the next goal, with Mane and Wijnaldum particularly putting the screws onto a stretched PSG defense. Mo Salah, their star striker, had had a poor game, and his misery was compounded when he gave the ball away to Julian Draxler for the second time in two minutes. This time, Draxler fed Neymar, who jinked past challenges and set up Kylian Mbappe, who thumped the ball home. Just like that, PSG were level, totally against the run of play.
The game now became increasingly stretched, with both teams looking for their main men to produce a moment of magic. For Liverpool, their main men was reduced to one eye and was waiting on the bench, raring to come on. Bobby Firmino was brought on for the last ten minutes, and it was he who produced a moment of absolute brilliance to down the French champions. He twisted and turned in the left edge of the penalty area, sending in an arrowed effort, which nestled into the back of the net. Liverpool had stolen it in the end, and were good value for their 3 points.
Elsewhere, SSC Napoli field to break down a dogged Red Star defense, spilling a glorious chance to score 3 points, given that PSG had been downed by Liverpool. Galatasaray thumped Lokomotiv Moscow 3-0 in their Group D game, while Schalke threw their lead away, drawing 1-1 with FC Porto at the VELTINS-Arena.
Thus, Inter Milan, Galatasaray and Liverpool had a brilliant match week 1, while FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid got the job done with minimal fuss. French sides PSG and AS Monaco are struggling, while SSC Napoli threw a glorious chance away.