Inter boss Conte goes easy on players after last-gasp Champions League draw

By Sports Desk October 21, 2020

Antonio Conte said he has nothing to "reproach" his Inter players for despite needing a 90th-minute equaliser from Romelu Lukaku to salvage a 2-2 Champions League draw against Borussia Monchengladbach.

Inter appeared to be on their way to victory courtesy of Lukaku's first goal shortly after the interval, but a Ramy Bensebaini penalty and a late strike from Jonas Hofmann looked to have sealed all three points for the visiting Bundesliga side on Wednesday.

Lukaku bundled in from close range in the closing stages, though, to snatch a share of the spoils for Inter, who lost Alexis Sanchez to an adductor injury at half-time in the Group B showdown in Milan midweek.

Inter netted a 90th-minute equaliser in their opening group-stage game for the second consecutive Champions League campaign, while the Nerazzurri have only won one of their last six opening Champions League fixtures.

Inter head coach Conte refused to be too hard on his players and said the loss of full-back Achraf Hakimi due to a positive coronavirus test shortly before the game had a significant impact on his side's preparations. 

"We have to concentrate on doing our best on the pitch," Conte told Sky Sport Italia. "That's all we have to do. It wasn't easy today to receive the news at 5pm that Hakimi was positive. 

"Up until this morning, he was training with us. He was meant to start, so we'd prepared all the tactical situations.

"I told the lads to face every situation with heads held high. It wasn't easy on a psychological level, but the lads showed they are good men as well as good players.

"Tonight we did well against a team with a great deal of potential, one that has technical quality as well as physicality.

"I don't remember a Samir Handanovic save, whereas we had the chances to win the game. I have nothing to reproach the lads for.

"Inevitably, we can improve in some situations where there are errors and we have to work on whittling those down."

Lukaku cut a frustrated figure despite his late equaliser and said Inter need to show more resilience after their winless run was extended to three games in all competitions.

The Belgian star has now scored in each of his last nine European fixtures across the Champions League and Europa League (11), extending the longest-ever such run by a player for Inter.

"This is not a good result in my view, because we can do better," he said. "We must keep working and be stronger mentally because it's not an easy moment for us and we have to keep believing in our quality. 

"Now we need to be stronger, above all mentally, and do better in defence, as we conceded two goals due to our errors. We made so many mistakes and wasted chances up front too, so if we don't take those we are made to pay at this level."

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