Something is moving in Milan. After nine long years without silverware and suffering from the disappointment of missing their first Serie A title in a decade, Inter Milan have beaten an ill-fated Shakhtar Donetsk and will travel to Cologne to face Sevilla in the Europa League final. Friday.
Lautaro Martinez showed why he is one of the most coveted strikers in European football with two goals – either side of a Danilo D’Ambrosio header – while Romelu Lukaku has scored two more, displaying the type of clinical finish that was sorely lacking in his former Manchester United on Sunday. -final.
Only a few weeks ago, Antonio Conte, in typical fashion, threatened to end his stay at Giuseppe Meazza after just a year due to a perceived lack of support from above. Conte’s abrasive style of management on the rise isn’t for every owner, but it’s getting harder and harder to argue. It works.
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Shakhtar actually dominated the play for spells, especially during a tight first half, although Inter finished him in front and never looked back. Everything went almost exactly as Conte expected, without Shakhtar registering a shot on target. Martinez, meanwhile, scored with Inter’s first, in a brutally straightforward goal due to the mistake of goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov.
Pyatov had just lowered a raised hand in excuse for his misplaced kick when Nicolo Barella’s perfectly placed cross from the right slipped past the retreating Shakhtar’s defense and found Martinez’s. A glance seemed simple but was brutally effective, leaving the goalkeeper only to slap the crossbar in frustration.
The celebrations were wild enough that Roberto Gagliardini accidentally jumps straight into D’Ambrosio’s head and momentarily stuns his teammate. Perhaps that explained why, minutes later, the full-back was one of three Inter players – along with Martinez and Lukaku – getting in the way and somehow failing to convert at close range.
Shakhtar hadn’t managed to score even once since the restart before this game and should have maintained that record shortly after the hour, when Junior Moraes met Mykola Matvyenko’s cross with a downward header. It was an almost mirror image of Martinez’s luck but lacked the same conviction and was blocked by Samir Handanovic’s legs.
That was the luck that this semi-final turned on, as no more than two minutes later it tipped Inter decisively. Again it was a header and this time D’Ambrosio was right, going through Matvyenko’s back to meet Marcelo Brozovic’s corner from the right and guide the ball past Pyatov.
It was then that the floodgates opened. In the space of nine minutes, Inter extended their lead by three goals. Martinez first capitalized on Taras Stepanenko’s dispossession in the middle of the park to turn right and apply a finish that demonstrated why he has been courted by Barcelona lately.
Lukaku had been an eerily calm presence until this point, but was determined not to let his goal streak in this competition expire before the final. Once again, the Shakhtar were the architects of their own downfall, with Yevhan Konoplyanka’s reckless pass at the edge of his own penalty area picked up by Martinez and then slipped for Lukaku to finish.
The Belgian did not finish and showed the kind of straightforward run against opposition defenders that has made him such a brilliant – but oddly unrecognized – success in the Premier League. Davit Khocholava was left in his dust as with seven minutes remaining he slipped Inter’s fifth past Pyatov.
Sevilla will enter Friday’s final with an extra day off, but Inter didn’t need much to spend here. If anything, this dominant display against a normally compact and capable team will have scared the Andalusians and will only raise hopes of a return to victory for the Nerazzurri in Lombardy.
International: Handanovic, Godin, de Vrij, Bastoni, D’Ambrosio, Barella, Brozovic, Gagliardini, Young, Lukaku, Martinez.
Sous-marins: Sanchez, Moses, Sensi, Ranocchia, Valero, Eriksen, Padelli, Esposito, Pirola, Biraghi, Skriniar, Candreva.
Shakhtar Donetsk: Pyatov, Dodo, Kryvtsov, Khocholava, Matviyenko, Marcos Antonio, Stepanenko, Marlos, Alan Patrick, Taison, Moraes.
Submarines: Dentinho, Tete, Konoplyanka, Solomon, Kovalenko, Maycon, Marquinhos Cipriano, Bolbat, Pikhalonok, Bondar, Trubin, Fernando.
Arbitrator: Szymon Marciniak (Pologne).