Inter coach praises Icardi despite Champions League exit
Mauro Icardi rescued a 1-1 draw for Inter Milan against PSV Eindhoven in yesterday morning's (Singapore time) final group game, but it proved not enough as the Italian giants crashed out of the Champions League.
The 25-year-old became the first player to score in each of his first three Champions League home games for Inter, with his 119th goal since arriving from Sampdoria five years ago.
"One player doesn't make a team," said coach Luciano Spalletti after Inter's first foray into Europe's elite competition for more than six years ended prematurely.
"Icardi rose to the challenge," continued Spalletti, "he not only scored today, he also dribbled well, pulling a lot back but it's not one player that sets the flavour of a great team."
The Serie A side needed to better Tottenham Hotspur's result at Barcelona to leapfrog the English Premier League side and snatch a place in the knockout rounds.
Inter thought they had done enough in the 73rd minute when captain Icardi marked his 200th game for the club by equalising Hirving Lozano's 13th-minute opener, with Spurs a goal down at the Nou Camp.
However Lucas Moura levelled at 1-1 for Tottenham after 85 minutes, enabling his team to advance to the last 16, thanks to the away goal Christian Eriksen scored in their 2-1 defeat at the San Siro giving them a superior head-to-head record after Inter's 1-0 defeat at Wembley.
It was a bitter exit for the team who last qualified for the Champions league in the 2011-2012 season after winning the last of their three Champions League titles in 2010 under Jose Mourinho.
"We got nervous, lost too many balls, created disorder at the tactical level and tension set in," said Spalletti whose side drop into the Europa League.
"We had the match we needed, but didn't capitalise on the chances we had. As the anxiety grows, you lose sight of how to control the game."
After news of Moura's 85th-minute equaliser filtered through, Inter desperately piled forward for the winner with Lautaro Martinez coming closest as he headed over to the despair of the Inter fans among the 62,635 crowd.
"We let ourselves be carried away by tensions, by the public mood," Spalletti added after the goals from their rivals' game were broadcast in the stadium.
"How do you hide the result of your opponents? The public cheer. We had to have more balance, not to become frantic." - AFP