Inter took a huge step toward qualification to the Champions League knockout stages by beating Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0, thanks to an Edin Dzeko brace.
Shakhtar travelled to San Siro on Wednesday night without a win in Group D and once the Nerazzurri went ahead after a vexatious first half, they never looked like letting their visitors into the game.
The opening 45 minutes witnessed no goals but there was still plenty of excitement. Nicolo Barella had the first real chance of the game, firing over when the ball fell to him kindly in the box.
Shortly after Andrea Ranocchia failed to convert a free header and Ivan Perisic had a great strike ruled out, as Matteo Darmian was narrowly offside in the buildup.
As one might expect from a team managed by Roberto De Zerbi, Shakhtar took plenty of risks when playing out from the back and this occasionally backfired – most notably when they surrendered possession and allowed Dzeko a presentable sight at goal, which he could not capitalise on.
Before the break there was still time for both Dzeko and Lautaro Martinez to fluff big chances as Inter went into the changing room frustrated.
11 minutes after the break the hosts had the ball in the net again through Martinez, only for the referee to blow up for a push, keeping the scores level. On the hour mark, Inter finally netted a legitimate goal with Dzeko reacting quickest to power home with the ball bouncing around the box.
Six minutes later, it was 2-0. Dzeko was again the scorer, nodding the irrepressible Perisic’s cross into the net at the back post.
This quickfire double visibly rocked Shakhtar but the visitors did collect themselves enough for right-back Dodo to strike the inside of the post following some horrific home defending.
The win means Inter will progress to the last 16 if Real Madrid beat minnows Sheriff later this evening.
Here is how the Inter players rated…
Samir Handanovic (GK) – 6/10 – Very little to do but dealt with everything that came his way and distributed effectively.
Milan Skriniar (CB) – 7/10 – Imposed himself on the Shakhtar frontline with a physical display.
Andrea Ranocchia (CB) – 6/10 – Missed a golden chance in the early exchanges. Could have done better in the air too.
Alessandro Bastoni (CB) – 7/10 – Comfortable. Strode out from defence at times with real confidence.
Matteo Darmian (RWB) – 7/10 – Continued his rich vein of form with a dynamic display.
Nicolo Barella (CM) – 7/10 – Should have score early on. Drove forward with purpose and caught the eye with a few good through balls.
Marcelo Brozovic (CM) – 7/10 – Helped Inter control the game with his passing from deep.
Hakan Calhanoglu (CM) – 6/10 – A few moments but largely faded into the background. Hit one corner straight out of play. Oooooffff.
Ivan Perisic (LWB) – 9/10 – Electric early on, creating chances, scoring a (disallowed) goal and defending terrifically. Continued to threaten as the game progressed and got a deserved assist.
Lautaro Martinez (ST) – 6/10 – A very busy night. Had two penalty appeals turned down, missed a couple of good chances and was always active. Ended without a goal nor an assist.
Edin Dzeko (ST) – 8/10 – Wasteful with his chances early on but finally got going after the break. Two great finishes.
Joaquin Correa (ST) – 6/10 – One of the few Inter players to maintain intensity until the end.
Arturo Vidal (CM) – N/A
Danilo D’Ambrosio (RWB) – N/A
Stefano Sensi (CM) – N/A
Federico Dimarco (RWB) – N/A
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