Inter Milan advanced to the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in more than a decade, surviving a late bombardment of siege at Porto to escape with a 0-0 draw and a 1-0 aggregate victory.
The Portuguese champions attempted in vain to erase the small deficit from the first leg in Italy, disappointing the home supporters at a sold-out Dragao stadium.
A diligent Inter team appeared satisfied to maintain their advantage and did not face a major danger until extra time.
Porto hit the crossbar twice in 30 seconds before Pepe was sent off for a second yellow card, sending Inter into the quarter-finals with city rivals AC Milan.
Inter’s victory over FC Porto
Inter advanced to their first Champions League quarter-final since 2011 thanks to Romelu Lukaku’s goal four minutes from the end of the first leg.
As Mehdi Taremi rattled the crossbar in the waning moments, he came within inches of forcing extra time.
As winger Pepe was issued a second yellow card in the seventh minute of injury time, the Portuguese team was reduced to ten men.
On-loan Lukaku, a Chelsea striker, came in for Inter 20 minutes from time, replacing Edin Dzeko, who had come closest to scoring for Simone Inzaghi’s team with a low shot that Diogo Costa saved.
Napoli, which leads Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 from the first leg, might make it three Serie A clubs in the last eight on Wednesday.
Inter secures place to UEFA Champions League Quarter-Finals almost after a decade
Inter will hope that this quarter-final participation – the draw may made on Friday – is far superior to their previous experience.
In a humbling double header twelve years ago, they were out with 7-3 on aggregate by German side FC Schalke 04.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan was diplomatic when asked if Inter can go all the way and win the competition, something they haven’t done since Jose Mourinho’s historic treble-winning side over a decade ago.
‘We knew it was going to be difficult,’ he told Sky. ‘I’d want to thank my teammates on a fantastic fight.
‘We had to battle to the last end for this outcome. We anticipated it would be a difficult contest, and we excel in these situations.
‘I hope this qualifying provides us a boost for the next matches.’
Inter fans and players met with a wall of animosity, and Inzaghi was happy to his team the need of riding out an early wave of pressure.