Carlo Ancelotti left Eden Hazard on the bench and turned to 18-year-old Eduardo Camavinga and 20-year-old Rodrygo Goes instead, and the young substitutes combined to win it for Real Madrid in the 89th minute against Inter Milan.
Simone Inzaghi’s side had chance after chance at the Giuseppe Meazza but Thibaut Courtois kept them at bay and when wily Ancelotti made attacking late changes but overlooked Hazard his master planned paid off.
Rodrygo ghosted on to Camavinga’s superb cushioned assist from Fede Valverde’s clever pass and it was 1-0 so late that Inter had no time to respond.
Real Madrid secured a crucial 1-0 win away at Inter in their opening Champions League game
Brazilian young star Rodrygo Goes (right), 20, scored the only goal in the 89th minute
Rodrygo’s Champions League goal record is outstanding. He has seven in 17 appearances. ‘I love playing and scoring in the Champions League,’ he said after the win.
Inter had all the early chances but Courtois saved from Lautaro Martinez and Edin Dzeko. Casemiro tested Samir Handanovic from distance and Eder Militao headed wide from a corner as Madrid grew into the game but the first half ended with Courtois’ goal back under siege.
Marcelo Brozovic’s shot grazed the Belgian keeper’s far post and he then had block Nicolo Barella’s cross. Three minutes before the break Dzeko threatened again and once more Courtois batted away the shot.
Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois was kept busy as Marcelo Brozovic’s strike grazed the post
Madrid’s best hope was Vinicius on the counter but he and Karim Benzema were isolated in attack, far from a Madrid midfield in which Casemiro and Lucas Vazquez looked overwhelmed at times.
The pattern of the game did not change after the break and Courtois had to save Madrid again, getting down smartly to his right to save Milan Skriniar’s towering header.
Vinicius was still Madrid’s best escape valve and his run down the left and cross ended with Benzema teeing up Dani Carvajal whose effort was pushed over.
Denzel Dumfries was on for Inter and he sprinted past Vinicius but his cross was blocked by David Alaba. Vinicius got his own back on Dumfries twisting past him at the other end before he was crowded out.
Inter substitute Denzel Dumfries sprinted past Brazilian Vinicius, who later got his own back
The Brazilian’s next penetrative run forced a corner but it came to nothing. Madrid had brought on Rodrygo and he was immediately a threat on the counter too as Ancelotti tried to take the pressure off his defence.
With three minutes left Vinicius could have won it from Benzema’s pass but the outstanding Milan Skriniar slid in to block his shot.
The Inter centre-back did not deserve to end up on the losing side but with 60 seconds of normal time left Vinicius’ Brazilian team-mate struck and Madrid had won their first Champions League group game of the season.