Lautaro Martinez fires Inter past Salzburg and into Champions League Last 16


Inter Milan's Argentine forward #10 Lautaro Martinez celebrates scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League Group D football match between FC Salzburg and Inter Milan in Salzburg, Austria on November 8, 2023. 

Lautaro Martinez shot Inter Milan into the last 16 of the Champions League with the only goal in Wednesday's 1-0 win at Salzburg, continuing his red-hot scoring form. 

Argentina forward Martinez confidently fired home from the penalty spot with four minutes remaining at the Stadion Salzburg to secure passage to the knockout stage of Europe's top club tournament. Simone Inzaghi's side sit second in Group D and cannot be caught by Salzburg who are seven points back in third with two games left to play.

Inter trail leaders Real Sociedad on goal difference and will now do battle with the Spanish outfit for top spot and a theoretically easier draw in the next round.

"I'm very happy because we have a very difficult group but we did what we needed to do and we got through to the next round," said Martinez to Amazon Prime.

"There is a long way to go, we've still got two matches to see if we can finish top.

"I'm pleased with the way this team has developed, we've become a much more mature side in these sorts of matches."

Martinez has scored 14 goals in all competitions this season and was once again decisive for Inter, who also lead Serie A and look a good bet for another deep run in the Champions League after losing last season's final.

Since the departures of Edin Dzeko and Romelu Lukaku in the summer Martinez has taken on the mantle of attacking focal point for Inter.

He was made captain following the departure of Samir Handanovic and has struck up a fierce partnership with France forward Marcus Thuram, racking up his impressive tally in 15 appearances.

The 26-year-old was brought on for Alexis Sanchez in the 68th minute with the match seemingly heading for a drab goalless draw.

And he nearly put Inter ahead with eight minutes remaining when his angled header was brilliantly tipped onto the bar by Alexander Schlager.

But Schlager could do nothing to stop his spot-kick after Mads Bidstrup handled Nicolo Barella's shot, Inter claiming a fifth straight win in all competitions and a spot in the last 16 draw.

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