Soccer-Late Rodrygo strike earns Real Madrid win at Inter


Soccer Football - Champions League - Group D - Inter Milan v Real Madrid - San Siro, Milan, Italy - September 15, 2021 Real Madrid's Rodrygo celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

(Reuters) -Real Madrid substitute Rodrygo struck an 89th-minute winner to snatch a 1-0 Champions League group-stage victory away to Inter Milan on Wednesday, punishing the wasteful Italians for missing a string of chances.

The Brazilian met a cushioned pass from fellow replacement Eduardo Camavinga and volleyed home in the dying minutes as Carlo Ancelotti’s side triumphed against their major rivals for top spot in Group D.

"It is a very important victory, very difficult, very complicated. A complete performance even though I saw mistakes. The team had a good attitude," Ancelotti said.

"My team knew we had to suffer and suffer we did -- I liked that a lot. This team does not have only quality, it has commitment and that is the most important thing."

For Inter, it was a painful conclusion to a game they dominated for long stretches but the hosts could not find a way past on-form goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who produced several crucial saves.

Real are second in the group behind Moldovans Sheriff Tiraspol, who stunned Shakhtar Donetsk with a 2-0 win on their tournament debut and travel to Madrid next, while Shakhtar and Inter will look to get their first points on the board when they meet in Ukraine.

“Real and Inter are the two favourites for the group but we have taken the advantage with this win. Nobody expected Sheriff to beat Shakhtar. You need to always be careful," Ancelotti told Amazon Prime.

Inter and Real were already familiar with each other after sharing a group last season, when the Spanish side twice triumphed, but both teams were starting this European campaign under new coaches, Real with Ancelotti and Inter with Simone Inzaghi.

The Italian champions started on the front foot and soon threatened when Edin Dzeko had a shot saved by the legs of Courtois, an early sign of what would prove to be a theme of the night.

Real struggled to cope with the aggression of the hosts and were second best before the break, thanking Courtois again for diving to stop a Lautaro Martinez header and beating away another Dzeko effort.

The Spaniards had soaked up 14 shots by halftime and they kept coming after the break, when Courtois produced the save of the night by clawing a close-range Dzeko header off the line.

Real grew into the game as Dani Carvajal stung Samir Handanovic’s palms with a shot and Vinicius was twice blocked by Milan Skriniar in dangerous positions, and Rodrygo’s late strike gave them the three points.

“We deserved a lot more. But if you don’t score goals it is difficult to win," Dzeko said.

“We had our chances. Courtois was very good, and us less so, on certain opportunities, but you can’t lose a game like this."

(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; editing by Clare Fallon)

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