Inter Milan ended a month-long winless run as they ran out 2-0 winners in their Champions League quarter-final first leg at Benfica.
Nicolo Barella and Romelu Lukaku scored second-half goals in Lisbon’s Stadium of Light to move the Italian team into a good position to reach the semi-finals of the European competition for the first time in more than a decade.
Aiming to win five consecutive Champions League games for the first time since 1990, Benfica controlled the pace of the game but it was Inter that struck with a header by Barella off a long cross by Alessandro Bastoni into the area in the 51st minute.
Substitute Lukaku added to Inter’s lead by converting an 82nd-minute penalty kick that was determined by video review for a handball by former Inter player Joao Mario inside the area.
Meanwhile, it was Benfica’s first Champions League loss in 13 matches this season after they started the competition in the third qualifying round and became one of the surprises of the competition so far by overcoming the challenges of Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.
Inter were winless in six matches in all competitions, with their last victory against Lecce in the Italian league in March. Benfica were coming off a loss to rivals Porto in the Portuguese league but had won 13 of their last 15 matches in all competitions since then.
The winner of the series between Inter and Benfica will face AC Milan or Napoli in the semi-finals.
The second leg takes place in Milan on April 19; kick-off 8pm.
Benfica travel to Chaves in the league on Saturday; kick-off 6pm.
Meanwhile, Inter Milan host Monza, also on Saturday; kick-off 7.45pm.