Messi-less Barcelona draws 1-1 at Inter after late goals
AP, Milan :
Inter defender Milan Skriniar (center) celebrates after his teammate Inter forward Mauro Icardi, scored his side's opening goal during the Champions League group B soccer match between Inter Milan and Barcelona at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy on
Lionel Messi once again watched from the sidelines and Barcelona's attack struggled without him as the Spanish side drew 1-1 at Inter Milan in the Champions League on Tuesday despite dominating for large periods of the match.
The result nevertheless meant Barcelona became the first side to secure qualification for the knockout.
Messi had traveled with the team to Milan but Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde opted not to risk the star forward, who hasn't played since fracturing his arm last month. The visitors still nearly managed to win the match when substitute Malcom netted with seven minutes remaining, moments after coming off the bench. But Inter has made a habit of scoring late goals and did so again as Mauro Icardi leveled in the 87th.
Barcelona could have won Group B with a victory at San Siro but a combination of wayward finishing and fine saves by Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic means it will have to wait until the final two group matches.
"We had a great game," Valverde said. "We played very well. We didn't win but we qualified. So I leave Milan happy."
Barcelona remained top of the group, three points ahead of Inter and six ahead of Tottenham which beat PSV Eindhoven 2-1.
"It's a good point," Icardi said. "The message from this match is that we want to qualify from the group, we wanted to take points from this match knowing that now we have two difficult matches."