Inter have qualified for the Europa League knockouts after Rodrigo Palacio’s brace helped secure a 3-1 victory over Partizan Belgrade, their 10th consecutive away win.
The Nerazzurri only scraped a last-minute 1-0 win over Partizan at San Siro and went into a passionate Belgrade atmosphere without the injured Andrea Ranocchia, Walter Samuel, Wesley Sneijder, Dejan Stankovic, Cristian Chivu and Philippe Coutinho.
Bad news for Inter straight away, as Gaby Mudingayi picked up a muscular problem and had to limp off to make way for Walter Gargano.
Fredy Guarin drilled wide from 20 metres, perhaps with a slight deflection off teammate Esteban Cambiasso to skim the upright. A Marko Livaja screamer was straight into the arms of the Partizan goalkeeper, as was Alvaro Pereira’s angled drive.
Partizan were also forced into a substitution for captain Sasa Ilic, but they very nearly took the lead. A free kick found an Ivanov free header, but Samir Handanovic got down brilliantly to palm right off the line to his left in a sensational save.
From the resulting corner, Ivanov was again allowed to nod towards goal, but once more Handanovic flew to flap it away, this time to his right and much higher.
Rodrigo Palacio replaced Yuto Nagatomo for the second half for a 4-1-4-1 system with Livaja wide, but Partizan wasted an unbelievable chance!
Aleksandar Milijkovic sprung the offside trap in midfield and surged into the box, but only rolled across instead of shooting and the Juan Jesus interception would’ve been an own goal had Handanovic not parried. The move continued and eventually Milos Jojic prodded wide of the back post.
They were made to pay for that, as Inter scored moments later. Guarin got to the by-line and pulled back for Palacio, who reacted quickly to chest the ball into the net from six yards. The Argentine had also scored against Partizan in the first leg.
Substitute Stefan Scepovic was on the field for one minute when he tested Handanovic, while Livaja did the same at the other end.
Handanovic was at full stretch to parry a precise Milan Smiljanic daisy-cutter off the line with his fingertips.
Inter put the result under lock and key with a classic counter-attack. The delicate Guarin through ball allowed Palacio to spring the offside trap in midfield and sprint forward, keeping his cool to place a precise angled drive past the on-rushing goalkeeper into the far bottom corner.
It was very nearly a Palacio hat-trick, but Petrovic performed a crucial save from point-blank range after Antonio Cassano skipped past a defender to roll across.
Cassano provided another fantastic assist moments later and this time Guarin made the most of it. Guarin’s dummy let the pass through to FantAntonio, who waited for the right moment to thread it between defenders and the Colombian side-footed it past the goalkeeper.
Partizan did get a consolation goal in the final minute, as Miljkovic kept the ball in play at the by-line and crossed for a fine Nemanja Tomic volley, getting in front of Jonathan.
Partizan 1-3 Inter
Scorers: Palacio 51, 75 (I), Guarin 88 (I), Tomic 90 (P)
Partizan Belgrade: Petrovic; Miljkovic, Ostojic, Ivanov, Lazevski; Medo (M Scepovic 55), Smiljanic; Tomic, S Ilic (Jojic 30), L Markovic; S Scepovic (Mitrovic 69)
Inter: Handanovic; Jonathan, Silvestre, Juan Jesus, Nagatomo (Palacio 46); Zanetti, Mudingayi (Gargano 13), Cambiasso, Guarin, Alvaro Pereira; Livaja (Cassano 77)
Ref: Duarte Gomes (POR)