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Inter out of Champions League after 2-1 loss to Barcelona

(AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

By DANIELLA MATAR

Associated Press

MILAN (AP) Inter Milan was knocked out of the Champions League on Tuesday with a 2-1 home loss to an under-strength Barcelona side.

Teenager Ansu Fati scored the winner for Barcelona four minutes from time after Inter forward Romelu Lukaku had cancelled out the opener from Champions League debutant Carles Perez.

The 17-year-old Fati became the youngest goalscorer in Champions League history.

"They are two young players who have come into the first team this year, they're young, very young in Ansu's case," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. "Inter has an experienced defense, which you can't usually score against, but Carles is a player who has goals in his blood and Ansu is a born goalscorer.

"We are very happy that the youngest player to score in the competition is one of our players and especially someone who has come up through our youth system."

Inter, which had three goals ruled out for offside, needed to at least match Borussia Dortmund's result against Slavia Prague to progress to the round of 16 but the German side won 2-1.

Barcelona had already won Group F and finished four points above Dortmund and seven above Inter, which will go into the Europa League.

"You can see from the group standings that we fought for it until the end, despite it being the most difficult group of all," Inter coach Antonio Conte said. "We're disappointed, we had the chance to advance.

"Of course there is regret and disappointment, today we had a number of good chances to score but football in the end is simple: you have to put the ball in the net."

The Spanish side rested a number of key players for the match, including six-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi.

Inter started brightly as Danilo D'Ambrosio blazed over the bar from a good position in the fifth minute and Lukaku had the ball in the back of the net two minutes later, but he was clearly offside.

Another well-worked Inter move saw the home side sweep the ball from left to right and Lukaku picked out an unmarked Cristiano Biraghi, but he had his shot parried by Barcelona goalkeeper Neto.

Barcelona took the lead against the run of play in the 23rd minute when Inter defender Diego Godin could only knock on Antoine Griezmann's through ball to Perez.

Barcelona could have doubled its lead 10 minutes later but Clement Lenglet fired wide from close range.

Inter laid siege to the Barcelona goal and leveled moments from halftime when Lautaro Martinez collected the ball with his back to goal and held off a defender before passing to Lukaku, who drilled it into the bottom right corner with the aid of a slight deflection.

Inter continued to pepper the Barcelona goal after the break as it searched for the crucial second goal.

Lukaku went closest in the 61st as he shrugged off a defender but fired straight at Neto.

Martinez, who also curled narrowly wide of the left post from distance, had two goals ruled out for offside as Inter threw everything at Barcelona.

But the Spanish side ended any hope Inter had when Fati fired in off the inside of the far post, two minutes after coming off the bench.

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Updated December 10, 2019

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