Inter Milan moved to the top of the standings in Champions League Group D on Tuesday after beating Austrian champions Salzburg 2-1 with an early goal by Alexis Sanchez and a second-half penalty by Hakan Calhanoglu.
Inter, who followed their opening 1-1 draw at Real Sociedad with a 1-0 home win against Benfica, are on seven points from three games.
Salzburg sits third with three points, one behind second-placed Real Sociedad, who were playing at bottom side Benfica later on Tuesday.
“It was a very important victory for the qualification; we were playing against a sparkling team,” Inter coach Simone Inzaghi told Sky Sport. “The team won with merit against a team that we knew would trouble us.
“But we know it’s a balanced group, and now we will have two consecutive away matches. We will have to prepare them well, knowing that the Champions League does not give anything away.”
Salzburg’s young squad showed no stage fright at the San Siro and pressed hard from the word go as Oscar Gloukh sent their first shot on target in the fourth minute, prompting Inter keeper Yann Sommer to react quickly to parry the ball.
But three-times champions Inter broke the deadlock against the run of play in the 19th minute when Sanchez collected a pass inside the box and sent it inside the far post to score his first goal since his return to Italy over the summer.
Sanchez is now the highest-scoring Chilean in the Champions League with 16 goals, one more than Arturo Vidal.
The goal sparked Inzaghi’s side into life, but the visitors fought back after halftime, and midfielder Gloukh levelled with a first touch from the edge of the box just before the hour mark.
However, Calhanoglu restored the lead for Inter seven minutes later, slotting home from the spot after the referee awarded a penalty for a foul on Davide Frattesi.
Lautaro Martinez thought he had increased the advantage in the 81st from close range after a brilliant Frattesi pass, but the goal was disallowed for offside following a VAR review.
The Austrian side pressed again in the closing minutes but failed to threaten Inter, who have the best defensive record in Serie A with five goals conceded.
“On the whole, it was a very good game from us,” Salzburg midfielder Luka Sucic told the club website.
“In the first half, we had two, maybe three, good chances that we should have finished better. You could see tonight again that we can hurt big teams with our footballing style.”
Salzburg, who claimed a tenth successive league title and a 17th overall last season, last won in Italy in the 2009-10 Europa League group stage in their opening fixture at Lazio (2-1).