GELSENKIRCHEN - Before today, we only had one memory of playing in the Arena AufSchalke, in that bitter defeat back in 2011, the last time Inter played in a European quarter-final. Nine years later, in the same stadium, we reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League with a hard-fought and deserved win over Getafe: 2-0, with goals from Lukaku and Eriksen, plus a penalty miss for the Spanish side when it was still 1-0. Now, we look ahead to the quarter-final, where we will play the winner of Bayer Leverkusen vs. Rangers. We're back in action on Monday, this time in Düsseldorf, and we are ready!
Hostile, tough, difficult. The description of the game against Getafe will be familiar to us all. In the first 20 minutes of the game at the Arena AufSchalke, the Spaniards put up a serious fight and made life incredibly difficult for the Nerazzurri. Bordalas dropped one of his strikers, usually opting for a traditional 4-4-2, in favour of a 4-2-3-1. Getafe started well and suffocated Inter's play, even causing the Nerazzurri one or two scares early on.
Not even two minutes were on the clock and Handanovic was called into action, denying Maksimovic's headed effort. The Serb's late runs into the box were a great source of chances for the Spanish side, who were ferocious in closing down the spaces and in their high press. Inter tried to calm down the game by playing long, and Bastoni saved Handanovic in the 18th minute with a vital intervention.
The stats read seven attempts for Getafe and none for Inter, but then the Nerazzurri began to get on the front foot. Lautaro was an early source of joy for Conte's side. Soria twice denied "El Toro", who was beginning to look increasingly in the mood. Inter looked an entirely different side from the the one that had started the match. Once Getafe's press was beaten, the chances began to flow.
And with the game now wide open, Inter bagged the opener. Bastoni's long ball forward found Lukaku, who held off Exteita and calmly stroked it home. It was the Belgian's 30th goal of the season and it gave Inter the lead against Getafe, which they would not relinquish.
A goal which brought more certainty, a sense of calm, more freedom to do damage to the opponents. After the restart, Inter immediately looked to kill off the game. Barella almost scored with a brilliant blast from distance, while D’Ambrosio’s acrobatic scissor-kick volley was then tipped away by Soria. But then the tempo dropped slightly, and Getafe were slowly able to reassert themselves and cause the Inter defence problems.
Angel, Arambarri and Mata all had goalscoring opportunities, with Handanovic producing the goods to tip the latter’s header over the bar. At this point in the match, the Spaniards were really applying the pressure as they looked to draw level. And while Inter were holding firm, the Nerazzurri were struggling to counter, despite the hard work of the two up top. With 74 minutes on the clock, Getafe were awarded a penalty following a long VAR review, with Godin being penalised for handball in the box.
With penalty specialist Mata having been brought off, Molina stepped up to take the spot-kick. His run-up was uncertain and his finish off target, although Handanovic had gone the right way and looked to have it covered. Thankfully, the score remained 1-0. It proved to be a real turning point: seven minutes later, Eriksen, who had entered the fray just seconds before, made it 2-0, supplying the finish in the box after a ricochet fell to his feet.
Thanks to this win, Inter have qualified for the quarter-finals of a major European competition for the first time since 2011, when they met Schalke at the same stage in the Champions League. While it was tough going, it was a deserved victory for the Nerazzurri, who now need to recuperate ahead of their last-eight tie. Up next for Conte’s men will be either Bayer Leverkusen or Rangers (the Germans are 3-1 up from the first leg) in Dusseldorf on Monday 10 August.
INTER 2-0 GETAFE - MATCH FACTS
INTER (3-5-2): 1 Handanovic; 2 Godin, 6 de Vrij, 95 Bastoni; 33 D'Ambrosio (34 Biraghi 84'), 23 Barella, 77 Brozovic (24 Eriksen 81'), 5 Gagliardini, 15 Young; 9 Lukaku, 10 Lautaro (7 Sanchez 70').
Bench: 27 Padelli, 11 Moses, 12 Sensi, 13 Ranocchia, 20 Valero, 30 Esposito, 32 Agoumé, 37 Skriniar, 87 Candreva.
Coach: Antonio Conte.
GETAFE (4-5-1): 13 Soria; 22 Suarez, 16 Exteita, 2 Djené, 17 Olivera (8 Portillo 88'); 12 Nyom (23 Jason 69'), 18 Arambarri (26 Hugo Duro 88'), 20 Maksimovic (9 Angel, 56'), 24 Timor, 15 Cucurella; 7 Mata (19 Molina 69').
Bench: 1 Chichizola, 30 Jean Paul, 4 Cabaco, 6 Chema, 11 Diedhou, 21 Fajr.
Coach: José Bordalás.
Goalscorers: 33' Lukaku (I), 83' Eriksen (I)
Bookings: Suarez (G)
Added time: 1' - 6'.
Referee: Taylor (ENG).
Linesmen: Beswick, Nunn.
4th Official: Kavanagh.
VAR and Assistant VAR: Attwell, Tierney.