Antonio Conte says his Inter Milan side were outclassed by ‘different level’ Real Madrid to leave them on the brink of a Champions League exit – and claims Arturo Vidal’s first-half red card ‘knocked the wind out of us’
Inter Milan boss Antonio Conte admitted Real Madrid are too good for his side after their humbling Champions League defeat on Wednesday night left them facing elimination from the tournament.
Inter were 1-0 down after only seven minutes after Eden Hazard scored a penalty and things descended for the Italians when Arturo Vidal was sent off after just 33 minutes.
An Achraf Hakimi own goal in the second half compounded Inter’s woes but Conte gave a blunt assessment of his team’s standing after the defeat at the San Siro.
Antonio Conte was a frustrated figure as his Inter Milan side lost 2-0 against Real Madrid
They were 1-0 down in the first half when Arturo Vidal was sent off by referee Anthony Taylor
Vidal had repeatedly protested Taylor’s decision not to award Inter with a penalty
‘It was an uphill battle from the get-go,’ Conte admitted. ‘We went behind and it was then difficult to get back into it, also because Vidal was sent off, something which knocked the wind out of us. Despite everything, the lads worked hard against a great side.’
Hazard slotted Real into the lead when Nicolo Barella fouled Nacho in a nightmare start for Conte’s men. Hazard’s strike was his first Champions League goal for the Spaniard’s since arriving from Chelsea.
Vidal was sent off shortly after the half hour mark for repeatedly harassing referee Anthony Taylor after he refused to award Inter a penalty. He was booked once for his protests but after continuing his complaints, got a second yellow and his marching orders.
‘It’s already difficult enough playing sides like Real Madrid, and we haven’t had a lot of luck during the two matches,’ Conte added. ‘If you immediately concede and then go down to ten men, it only becomes more complicated.
‘Unfortunately, I think we saw the difference between them and us. However, it shouldn’t knock us down, and we need to respond with humility as we look to go down our path.
Eden Hazard put Real ahead early on with a penalty and an Achraf Hakimi own goal made it two
Inter have it all to do if they are to reach the Champions League last-16 knock-out stages
‘The teams are at different levels and we need to grow in every respect. They’ve won the Champions League on several occasions, while we’re emerging on this stage again.
‘We mustn’t let ourselves be swayed by outside voices. We need to work to bridge the gap and return to be being protagonists.’
Zinedine Zidane’s men were without Sergio Ramos and Karim Benzema, absentees that would offered encouragement to Inter going into the match.
The defeat leaves them bottom of Group B in the Champions League after four games, with just two points and they are facing a mountain to climb to reach the knock-out stages of the tournament for the first time since 2011-12.
Borussia Monchengladbach lead with eight points but after their victory in Italy, Real are just one point behind. Shakhtar Donetsk, meanwhile, are third with four.