Inter Milan midfielder Nicolo Barella was shown a straight red card against Real Madrid on Tuesday night after punching Eder Militao’s leg.
Real Madrid won 2-0 at the Bernabeu to clinch top spot in Group D in the final game of the Champions League group stages.
Toni Kroos opened the scoring with an accurate long-range strike into the bottom corner after Inter failed to take their chances.
Lautaro Martinez, Edin Dzeko and Ivan Perisic all had presentable chances in Madrid, but were soon undone at the opposite end.
Things got even worse for the Italian visitors when Barella was given his marching orders following a scuffle with Real defender Militao.
Militao eased the Inter midfielder into the advertising hoardings, prompting him to lash out at the Brazilian by punching his calf while on the floor.
Referee Felix Brych did not hesitate with his decision, putting Inter at a huge disadvantage for the final 26 minutes of normal time.
And it perhaps proved important as, after Rodrygo twice went close, Marco Asensio’s stunning strike off the inside of the post secured the points for Real late on.
Inter manager Simone Inzaghi later admitted Barella’s behaviour was deserving of a red card and that he severely hampered his side.
“He overreacted, it was the state of the match,” Inzaghi said post-match.
“He had just had a chance. He hit out at [Militao’s] calf, which is a sending off by the letter of the law.
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“I think Nicolo immediately understood his mistake. He apologized. We were in the game.
“He was nervous, he did something he didn’t have to do and it set the tone for a game that had been there to take until then.
“I had already made my changes and to be left down a man here in Madrid, everything became complicated.”
Milan would have leapfrogged Real Madrid into top spot with victory, but instead go through second, meaning they will face a group winner in the last-16.
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