Inter did enough with Ricky Alvarez’s goal and a 1-1 at Trabzonspor to secure they have won Group B.
The Nerazzurri needed just a point be sure of top spot, as Lille’s 2-0 win away to CSKA Moscow mathematically qualified Claudio Ranieri’s men. Inter had been beaten at home by Trabzonspor in the opening game, when Gian Piero Gasperini was still in charge.
Wesley Sneijder, Douglas Maicon and the ineligible Diego Forlan were out, but Yuto Nagatomo and Lucio returned from injury. Ricky Alvarez, Dejan Stankovic and Mauro Zarate fanned out behind lone centre-forward Diego Milito. Robert Vittek and Tayfun Cora missed out for the home side.
Celutska drilled not too wide of the target in the opening minutes, but Cristian Chivu was booked for a terrible dive outside the box.
Inter broke the deadlock with their first real opportunity in Turkey. It was a wonderfully-worked move, as Ricky Alvarez exchanged passes with Milito to slice up the Trabzonspor defence down the right flank and delicately placed his angled drive past the on-rushing goalkeeper.
Trabzonspor should’ve equalised soon after, but Burak Yilmaz sprung the offside trap on a through ball and at full stretch against Julio Cesar only managed to glance it inches wide of an open goal.
The Turks did get their goal moments later, as Halil Altintop took a chance with a long-range screamer that took a decisive deflection off Walter Samuel’s back to loop over a helpless Julio Cesar.
Alanzinho failed to make the most of a Nagatomo error, then his snapshot from distance forced Julio Cesar into a tricky one-handed save. From that corner, Alanzinho tested the goalkeeper again with his header.
At the other end, Mauro Zarate burst forward down the left and his angled drive was well palmed round the base of the near post.
As the second half kicked off, Julio Cesar punched Burak’s free kick out from under the bar. There were penalty appeals for a Chivu handling offence as he came sliding in to block Glowacki’s cross from the right.
Dejan Stankovic pounced on a poor clearance to volley low, but Tolga Zenin adjusted his position quickly to turn round the post and from that corner Milito nodded over.
Zarate thought had scored when he sprung the offside trap and got round the goalkeeper, but Glowacki got back for a crucial goalline clearance.
Burak’s volley at the end of a well-worked move was well held by Julio Cesar and Tolga needed a fine block seconds later on an Inter counter-attack.
Alanzinho continued to be a danger, pouncing on a poor Chivu clearance to smash his angled drive just past the far upright.
Trabzonspor were very unlucky not to take the lead on 75 minutes, as the diving header from Adrian Mierzekewski beat Julio Cesar to crack against the upright. Celutska had provided the cross and Lucio lost his man.
Trabzonspor 1-1 Inter
Scorers: Alvarez 17 (I), Altintop 23 (T)
Trabzonspor: Tolga Zengin; Celutska, Glowacki, Giray Kacar, Cech; Serkan Balci (Mierzekewski 64), Zokora, Colman; Halil Altintop, Alalnzinho (Paulo Henrique 85); Burak Yilmaz
Inter: Julio Cesar; Nagatomo, Samuel, Lucio, Chivu; Zanetti, Cambiasso; Alvarez (Faraoni 88), Stankovic, Zarate (Coutinho 69); Milito (Pazzini 85)
Ref: Atkinson (Eng)