Robert Lewandowski scored a late brace to keep Barcelona’s slender Champions League hopes alive, as they played out an entertaining 3-3 draw with Inter Milan.

Barcelona have their chances of progressing to the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds teetering on the brink following a 3-3 draw with Inter Milan at Camp Nou in what was, by any measure, one of the games of the season so far.

Barcelona suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat to Inter in their last meeting in Milan, meaning this was a must-win game for them. Taking this make-or-break feeling into account, Xavi Hernandez played his strongest side. But Barcelona’s problems in defence were evident for all to see.

Meanwhile, the Nerazzurri defended deep and hurt Barcelona on the break as well as from set-pieces. But as the game proceeded, Simone Inzaghi’s side went all in, pouncing on their nervous hosts. Edin Dzeko was denied by the crossbar for Inter’s opener just after 15 minutes.

However, it was Barcelona who drew first blood in the 40th minute through Ousmane Dembele, who latched onto a pass from Sergi Roberto to pass it into the open net after a lapse in concentration from an otherwise well-drilled Inter back-three. But Gerard Pique made a terrible error in the second half, letting Nicolo Barella get on the back of an Alessandro Bastoni cross to score the equaliser in the 50th minute.

Lautaro Martinez then completed Inter’s turnaround some 13 minutes later, ending his goal drought by finishing low, with the ball going in after rebounding off both posts. Then, in the 82nd minute, Robert Lewandowski stepped into the proceedings to level things up. And the home team kept pushing forward, leaving open spaces to be exploited in midfield and at the back.

Andre Onana then played a lovely long ball to Lautaro Martinez, and the Argentine assisted Robin Gosens, who put Inter into the lead again in the 89th minute. Barcelona looked set to be heading to the Europa League for the second year in a row, with newspaper journalists mulling over morning headlines full of doom and gloom.

But, as they say, cometh the hour, cometh the man. Lewandowski rose well above the sky to power a magnificent header past a hapless Onana. Marc-Andre ter Stegen still had to make a superb save to deny Kristjan Asllani late on to prevent what would have been a disastrous result for Xavi’s men. It means Barcelona can still mathematically qualify, even if that is unlikely.

However, Inter still hold the tiebreaker over Barcelona and can secure knockout round football with a victory over Viktoria Plzen in the next round, which would send Barcelona to the Europa League. The Hard Tackle will now rate both sets of players.


Marc-Andre Ter Stegen: 6/10

The German shot-stopper continued his excellent form as he made some key saves to deny Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Denzel Dumfries. He also saved the 3-3 result with a last-minute stop on Kristjan Asllani. Ter Stegen looked sharp between the sticks and was excellent whenever called upon, making no less than six saves to keep Inter Milan at bay, while he distributed the ball with 93% pass accuracy.

Sergi Roberto: 6/10

Roberto made a good start to the game as he looked composed and bombed forwards at every opportunity on the right flank. He tested Onana from range and then provided an assist for Ousmane Dembele’s opener. Booked for a foul midway through the second half, before exiting after 72 minutes.

Eric Garcia: 6/10

It was yet another solid display from Garcia, who has been a commanding presence at the back recently. He stayed alert for most of the game but was found dozing off when Inter took the lead through Lautaro Martinez. He more than compensated for his mistake with a wonderful assist for Lewandowski’s second.

Gerard Pique: 4/10

Pique started strongly with a few confident-headed clearances. But his advancing years are catching up to him swiftly, as seen on multiple instances during the game. The veteran made multiple errors in terms of positioning and tackling, especially on Nicolo Barella’s goal and had a poor game as he struggled to cope with the Inter attackers.

Marcos Alonso: 5/10

When Barcelona building from the back, Alonso started an unusually reserved role against Inter, tucking inside to form a back-three. That is certainly not his game, while his defensive frailties and lack of pace left him far too exposed as well.

Gavi: 6/10

Gavi put in a solid performance thanks to his irrepressible energy, range of passing, and buzzing presence. He found his match in Barella and more often than not got the better of the Italian. A proper all-round shift from the youngster, who covered for Alonso and Dembele defensively.

Sergio Busquets: 5/10

It was a vintage first-half performance from the Barcelona skipper, who was difficult to mark and established the tempo to dominate the game against Inter. However, he had a nightmare second period, as his sloppy passes failed to find their intended targets, and he carelessly lost the ball leading to Inter’s second goal.

Pedri: 7/10

Deployed further up the pitch, Pedri made his presence felt in in the final third. But it did not always have the desired effect as he missed a brilliant chance to double Barcelona’s lead. Otherwise, it was a stellar performance as his forward runs opened up a tonne of avenues for Raphinha and Lewandowski. He also attempted a couple of miraculous dribbles to penetrate the final third but was eventually unsuccessful.

Raphinha: 6.5/10

Raphinha looked lively and slick on the right wing, taking the initiative with multiple crosses into the box. He brings an entirely new set of ideas with him to this Barcelona side but has also failed to implement them. Regardless, he produced four shots, tested Onana twice, and effectively fashioned the goal from nothing with his work rate.

Robert Lewandowski: 9/10

Lewandowski, the player to watch in our preview, was not having the best of nights prior to his match-saving brace. He was left isolated when trying to operate as a poacher inside the box, well-marshalled by Inter’s three central defenders. But, just when it looked like Barcelona’s Champions League adventure was over, Lewandowski delivered in the big moment to salvage some hope.

The first goal was scrappy by Lewandowski’s standards, but it was still a belter. The header to make it 3-3 late on, though, was a titanic effort, with the ball exploding past Onana thanks to a mix of brawn, technique, and sheer determination.

Ousmane Dembele: 7/10

Dembele twisted and turned when he got a hold of the ball. But much like Raphinha, he failed to execute most of his moves. He scored the opening goal just before half-time to put Barcelona 1-0 up, while he tested Inter goalkeeper Onana a couple of times prior to that. He combined well with Lewandowski and made three key passes and two accurate crosses.


Frenkie De Jong: 6/10

Frenkie de Jong could not produce anything significant but provided Barcelona the energy they were looking for in midfield with driving runs into the final third.

Ansu Fati: 5/10

Fati had a chance to win the match but overcomplicated a number of his plays and was not at his best. Had little influence on the game.

Alejandro Balde: 6/10

Subbed on for Marcos Alonso and offered Barcelona more of a presence in the final third as well as at the back. Should have started the game.

Franck Kessie: 6/10

A late inclusion in the squad, Kessie replaced Sergi Roberto in the 72nd minute. He created a lovely chance for Lewandowski and slotted in well to cover at right-back. But he made several mistakes with the ball.

Ferran Torres: N/A

Did not play enough to warrant a rating.

Inter Milan

Andre Onana: 6/10

Onana let in three goals, although he could not have done anything about any of them. He made seven saves, of which six were from inside the box. The Inter goalkeeper completed 15 long balls against Barcelona, including the one in the build-up to Gosens’s goal. That said, he spilled numerous speculative efforts from range and was unable to control his rebounds.

Milan Skriniar: 7/10

Skriniar basically man-marked Lewandowski for the whole 90 minutes. And for the majority of the game, he did it admirably. He stuck in the heart of the backline, taking a thoroughly physical approach against the Barcelona talisman while giving him little time and room to shoot or distribute. Played like a leader and a captain with the armband. He also engaged in a lot of kicking but was a monster in the air.

Stefan de Vrij: 6/10

Although not as impressive as last week, de Vrij was solid defensively and played consistently for the most part. Despite his domination in the air, he looked shaky as centre-back at times, as it was his mistake that led to Lewandowski’s first goal.

Alessandro Bastoni: 6.5/10

A very good overall performance by the youngster, who picked up a late assist on Inter’s third goal. He battled well in the first half, but his second-half defensive performance was not particularly impressive.

Denzel Dumfries: 6/10

As usual, Dumfries was a dynamic outlet that moved Inter up the pitch every time the Nerazzurri broke forward on turnovers. But the most impressive thing about the wing-back’s performance was his defensive work rate. But he struggled to create in his usual manner when attacking and frequently was forced to play back-passes to keep his team in possession.

Nicolo Barella: 8/10

Barella scored the all-crucial equaliser with a well-taken goal from his weaker left foot and fought bravely, particularly in the second half when he was at his very best, demonstrating his tremendous potential.

Engaged in a fascinating scrap war with Gavi in the middle of the park, made quality diagonal runs, and sprinted forwards on counterattacks to provide another body in the attacking third. Barella gave everything he had and fought for the cause until the last drop of sweat.

Hakan Calhanoglu: 8/10

Following an unsteady first 45 minutes, Calhanoglu became considerably more active in midfield, winning tackles and creating attacking opportunities. His ability to pass as well as drive forwards was a major force behind Inter’s attacking transitions. In addition, his reputation as a potent set-piece creator increased even more after this game.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan: 5/10

Mkhitaryan kept the score level with his goalline clearance early on and tried to make up for his lack of stamina and pace with his intelligent positioning. But he struggled with the high tempo. His ability to retain possession and quality on the ball were apparent. But he lost track of Roberto during the whole game, notably in the build-up Dembele’s opener.

Federico Dimarco: 5/10

Playing as the left wing-back, Dimarco failed to deal with the energetic Raphinha, more often than not, allowing him the freedom of the flank. The Brazilian had him pinned back for large stretches of the match, so he did not get much chance to maraud forward and deliver quality balls into the opponents’ box.

Lautaro Martinez: 8/10

Martinez flittered around the fringes of the contest for much of the first half before bursting into life in the second, scoring and assisting for Inter. When the ball fell his way in the box, he showed his talent and class as he took the ball off his chest and beat Garcia with a cheeky slam against the post and into the net.

Martinez then served a gorgeous assist for Robin Gosens in what appeared to be the game-winning goal. But his side ultimately wasted the late advantage and left with just one point.

Edin Dzeko: 6/10

Dzeko had an okay game, with his best chance coming from a sliding shot that hit the crossbar. He looked to have scored in the second half, but the assistant referee instantly called it back. The veteran worked hard, but he could not keep up with the intensity of the game as he looked fatigued after half an hour or so.


Matteo Darmian: 5/10

In the 66th minute, Darmian came on to replace Dimarco and played smartly. Was fortunate not to sustain a major injury as a result of Dembele’s appalling tackle on him, which should have resulted in a red card.

Robin Gosens: 7/10

Gosens came on for Calhanoglu in the 76th minute and netted a fine late goal as a substitute in what was by far his best cameo in an Inter jersey. He was defensively sharp and always a threat on the counter.

Raoul Bellanova: 5/10

Bellanova came on for Edin Dzeko in the 76th minute. He pressed hard and disrupted Barcelona’s attempts to build from midfield but lost the decisive header against Lewandowski for 3-3.

Kristjan Asllani: N/A

Did not play enough to warrant a rating.

Fracesco Acerbi: N/A

Did not play enough to warrant a rating.

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