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Inter and Benfica looking to recover from disappointing Champions League starts

MILAN (AP) — Inter Milan and Benfica are looking to recover from disappointing starts to their Champions League campaigns when they meet at San Siro on Tuesday in a repeat of last season’s quarterfinals.

Inter, which went on to lose to Manchester City in the final, needed a last-minute equalizer from Lautaro Martínez to snatch a 1-1 draw at Real Sociedad in their group opener. Sociedad was playing its first match back in Europe’s elite in a decade.

Benfica did worse as an early red card contributed to a 2-0 loss at home to Salzburg in Group D.

Both Inter and Benfica have won all but one of their domestic matches this season and they will be hungry to get their first victory in the Champions League.

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“Benfica is a great team,” Inter coach Simone Inzaghi said. “It will be an intense match and we will need a great performance because they lost their first match against Salzburg in an unexpected and undeserved way because despite the numerical inferiority they created a lot.

“This will be a very balanced group.”

Inzaghi will once again look to Martínez with the Argentine World Cup winner in red-hot form at the moment. Inzaghi attempted to give his star attacker a rest at the weekend against Salernitana but then brought him on and Martínez notched all four goals in a 4-0 win.

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That took his tally to 10 goals in all competitions this season — in just eight matches.

Martínez scored in the second leg of the quarterfinals last season, in a 3-3 draw at San Siro. Benfica had managed to keep him quiet in the first match, which Inter won 2-0.

“They have changed two or three players since last year, but their style of play has stayed the same and so they are strong and to be feared,” Inzaghi said.

One of those players is another Argentine World Cup winner in Ángel Di María, who returned in the summer for a second spell at the Portuguese club after his contract at Juventus ended.

The former Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain winger is enjoying a great start to life back at Benfica with six goals in eight matches, across all competitions.

Inter will be without the injured Marko Arnautović, Davide Frattesi and Stefano Sensi but Juan Cuadrado is fit again after a month out and could feature.

António Silva is suspended for Benfica after his red card in the match against Salzburg for swatting away the ball on the goalline, in the 13th minute.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer