Marko Livaja’s brace was not enough for the ‘next generation’ Inter side to beat Neftci, as they were twice pegged back for a 2-2 home draw.
The Nerazzurri had already qualified for the next phase of the Europa League weeks ago, so Andrea Stramaccioni gave a run-out to some of the Primavera youth team players against Azerbaijani club Neftci. Walter Samuel was given a start because he is suspended for Sunday’s game with Napoli, while Esteban Cambiasso took a centre-back role.
The ‘Baby Inter’ took the lead after nine minutes, as Alvaro Pereira’s cross from the left was not dealt with at all and Livaja was ready to tap in at the back post.
Philippe Coutinho threatened a second moments later, but it was deflected for a corner off Igor Mitreski. Jonathan went on a mazy solo run and forced goalkeeper Sasa Stamenkovic to parry with an outstretched foot.
Samuel’s header from a Coutinho free kick shaved a coat of paint off the upright, then the young Brazilian also set up Livaja and 18-year-old Luca Garritano attempted an audacious volley from outside the box.
Antonio Cassano came on for Samuel, marking a return as he has missed the last two Serie A games through suspension.
However, it was Neftci who got a surprise equaliser in the half-empty San Siro, as Sadygov unleashed a right-foot screamer from distance that gave Vid Belec no chance.
The situation didn’t last long, as 120 seconds later Livaja had completed his brace to restore Inter’s advantage. Yuto Nagatomo had just come off the bench moments earlier and put in a cross that caught out the goalkeeper, allowing Livaja to nod in undisturbed.
Coutinho should’ve scored when Cassano and Pereira combined to roll across the face of goal, but the Brazilian’s finish was inches wide.
Bad news for Inter on 69 minutes, as 18-year-old Simone Pasa picked up an injury after all the substitutions had been completed. He continued, but was limping heavily and clearly not playing a part in the game.
Nonetheless, Inter should’ve been awarded a third goal on 73 minutes. Livaja’s shot appeared to have already crossed the line by the time it was scrambled clear. Cassano then had penalty appeals for a Mitreski challenge from behind, but the referee only awarded a corner.
Flavinho almost equalised in the final minutes as he caught the defence napping and prodded wide with the outside of his right boot.
Nagatomo aimed a screamer from distance that rattled the crossbar, but moments later Neftci drew level again. Belec beat away Bruno Bertucci’s effort, but Nicolas Canales was able to nod in the rebound.
Inter 2-2 Neftci
Scorers: Livaja 9, 54 (I), Sadygov 52 (N), Canales 89 (N)
Inter: Belec; Jonathan (Bandini 63), Cambiasso, Samuel (Cassano 46), Alvaro Pereira; Romanò, Benassi; Pasa, Garritano (Nagatomo 53), Coutinho; Livaja
Neftci: Stamenkovic; Shukurov (Mehdiyev 46), T Guliyev, Mitreski, Bertucci; Sadygov (Seyidov 77), Ramos; Wobay, Flavinho, Imamverdiyev (Abdullayev 90); Canales
Ref: Aleckovic (BIH)