The Roar
The Roar


What the UCL!? Unlikely hero overcomes big misses, in front of disguised Kanye West and his Aussie missus

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20th February, 2024

Marko Arnautovic could barely do it on a cold, wet, windy night in Stoke, but on Wednesday the much-maligned Austrian striker took Inter Milan a step closer to the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

Arnautovic is a player with supreme self-belief who has had a journeyman career. Having began at Twente and played three games on loan for Inter under Jose Mourinho in 2009-10, he had his longest spell at one club with Stoke City in their Premier League years from 2013-17. His 22 goals from 125 games were a below par return that made him a figure of fun for rival fans, but he fared better with 21 in 59 for West Ham.

From there he moved to Shanghai before a return to Bologna and another loan to Inter.

The Milan club sits pretty nine points clear at the top of Serie A and their 1-0 win over Diego Simone’s typically defensive Atletico Madrid on Wednesday was a ninth straight victory.

Watch every match of the UEFA Champions League exclusive & ad-free, live & on demand on Stan Sport.

Inter goalkeeper Yann Sommer did not have a save to make and kept his 21st clean sheet in all competitions this season.

Alvaro Morata was a second half substitute for Atletico but missed a big chance to equalise at the finish – heading wide under pressure.

Arnautuovic, who has two goals in 17 matches, mainly off the bench, replaced injured Marcus Thuram for the hosts at halftime and spurned three decent chances before the scrappy winner.

Marko Arnautovic of FC Internazionale celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League 2023/24 round of 16 first leg match between FC Internazionale and Atlético Madrid at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on February 20, 2024 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)

Marko Arnautovic celebrates. (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)

He pounced on a rebound after Jan Oblak saved from Lautaro Martinez and his shot from a tight angle beat the despairing goalkeeper and a last ditch effort from a defender on the line.

While plenty have doubted the Austrian throughout his 17-year pro career, he’s not one of them.

“He’s had some extraordinary misses this season,” said Italian football expert Nicky Bandini on the Stan Sport coverage.

“It’s really been one of those stories where he came back with so much enthusiasm because he actually has a real affection for this club and this place. It’s kind of where he got his first break under Mourinho.

“At the time he was this kid with so much swagger. Mourinho tells a story about how he came over and the squad back then had Ibrahimovic, Crespo and Adriano and Arnautovic walks up to him and says ‘I’m better than all of them’. That’s the kind of attitude he has. Of course he hasn’t had that sort of career.

“But you have to say whatever you want to knock about Arnautovic – and obviously there’s plenty – perhaps the career story to be back here and the night story … you know what? There’s a lot of value in just being persistent.”


“These are my opportunities, I come in to make the difference,” Arnautovic said. 

“I missed a couple and I’m happy to have scored for the people who came here to cheer, as well as for my teammates.”

The game failed to reach any great heights and the poor quality of finishing on both teams detracted further from it as a contest.

It comes as no surprise to see a Simeone side go away and focus 100 percent on blunting a Champions League rival – and he was close to pulling off a stalemate except for a defensive blunder by Reinildo Mandava that led to the only goal.

But Simeone believes his team can turn the tie around.

“That’s the wonderful thing about football, you can prepare whatever you want, but they are people and individually good things happen and not good things happen. Inter made good use of a mistake between Rodrigo (de Paul) and Reinildo in that split ball.


“We have to keep improving, winning duels, running with more intensity… Good things will come.”

Inter are looking to go one better than last season, when they lost the final to Manchester City.

“Now there is another game to be played, so while it was nice to win, the 1-0 does not count for much,” said Inter’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

“We created as many chances as possible to score, but we knew that we were up against a strong opponent that defends well. Fortunately, we scored a goal and now go to Madrid with an advantage.

“Unfortunately, winning 1-0 means we have done nothing yet, we must go to Madrid and play as if it was still 0-0, we must play to win.

“We must do our best and continue the journey we were on last season, as we want to get back into the final.”

Kayne’s weird appearance


It’s hard to imagine US musician Kanye West and his Australian wife Bianca Censori came away enthused by the match.

West was keeping his emotions under wraps however, with his face hidden behind a black mask as he sat alongside the Aussie architect and model, as well as fellow rapper Ty Dolla $ign.

PSV draw with Dortmund

Luuk de Jong’s second half penalty PSV Eindhoven a 1-1 draw against Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of their tie.


The Dutch striker converted from the spot after German great Mats Hummels fouled Malik Tillman. That cancelled out Donyell Malen’s deflected first half strike.

It was Malen’s first Champions League goal since 2021 and, bizarrely, the first ever by a Dutch player against a Dutch side in the knockout stages of the competition.