Inter were comprehensively out-played for most of the match after gifting a goal in the first four minutes, but Lautaro Martinez snatched a precious point away to Real Sociedad.
The Nerazzurri reached the Final last season and that boosted their confidence going into the next term, winning four out of four in Serie A including Saturday’s 5-1 victory over rivals Milan. Hakan Calhanoglu and Juan Cuadrado were ruled out by injury, replaced by Kristjan Asllani, while Benjamin Pavard made his debut plus Marko Arnautovic and Carlos Augusto stepping in.
It was a disastrous start for Simone Inzaghi’s men, as first they were saved by the woodwork on Ander Barrenetxea, then moments later Alessandro Bastoni was harassed on the edge of the area into losing possession cheaply after a poor pass from Yann Sommer, allowing Brais Mendez to score relatively undisturbed.
Robin Le Normand’s diving header was also just off target from six yards on the Takefusa Kubo cross, then Mikel Oyarzabal was offside when the crossbar was rattled.
On the stroke of half-time, Kubo forced a tricky save out of Yann Sommer at a tight angle, as Inter were hanging on.
After the restart, Sommer made two tough saves on the Mendez free kick, then an even better reaction to deny Oyarzabal’s header on the corner. Stefan de Vrij also ran a big risk on that corner with an arm in Le Normand’s face, as VAR did not consider it enough to warrant a penalty.
Inzaghi had to make changes after an awful performance, introducing Marcus Thuram, Federico Dimarco and Davide Frattesi.
There was controversy when the referee showed a straight red card to Nicoló Barella on 66 minutes for what he thought was a stamp on Mendez. However, VAR allowed Michael Oliver to review the footage and understand it was nothing more than Barella getting his foot tangled up between Mendez’s legs and trying to free himself, so the card was revoked.
Real Sociedad remained dangerous and Merino’s header thumped the crossbar on a Kubo corner moments later.
Inter had the ball in the back of the net on 79 minutes when Carlos Augusto rolled across for Marcus Thuram to tap in, but the ex-Monza man was offside.
Despite being dominated for most of the match, Inter equalised with their first shot on target. A Davide Frattesi wayward shot from the edge of the area turned into an assist for Lautaro Martinez to score from a tight angle at the back post.
Real Sociedad 1-1 Inter
Mendez 4 (RS), Lautaro Martinez 87 (I)
(Assist: Davide Frattesi)