Lautaro Martinez earned and converted a penalty that gave Inter a precious 1-0 away victory at Rapid Vienna, who hadn’t conceded at home in the Europa League.
The build-up to this match was dominated by Mauro Icardi controversy, as yesterday he was stripped of the captaincy – handed to Samir Handanovic – and then refused to take part in the match. Options were limited for Luciano Spalletti, because Marcelo Brozovic and Milan Skriniar were suspended, with Keita Balde Diao injured, Joao Mario, Roberto Gagliardini and Dalbert not on the UEFA list.
It was a strong start from the Nerazzurri, as Matteo Politano’s curler skimmed the woodwork in the opening couple of minutes, while Matias Vecino also tried from distance.
Ivan Perisic ran into the box on the counter and stumbled, but Lautaro Martinez pounced on the loose ball and was brought down by Manuel Thurnwald. It was an avoidable error and Lautaro Martinez converted the resulting penalty with a central, but powerful, finish.
El Toro almost had a second moments later, but his spectacular volley from a corner found Richard Strebinger’s gloves at the back post.
Rapid Vienna had the ball in the net during first half stoppages, but Berisha was offside when knocking it back for Ivan’s volley and the goal was disallowed.
Politano had an effort charged down and Vecino’s header was just over the bar from a short free kick, while Ivan blasted a dangerous ball across the face of goal.
New captain Handanovic had to be on his toes for a sensational point-blank reaction save, as substitute and former Inter youth team player Christoph Knasmullner had tried to turn into the roof of the net from close range.
Radja Nainggolan wasted a promising opportunity created for him by Perisic, firing wide from the edge of the box.
Rapid Vienna 0-1 Inter
Lautaro Martinez pen 39 (I)
Rapid Vienna: Strebinger; Potzmann, Sonnleitner, Hofmann, Bolingoli; Thurnwald (Schobesberger 53), Grahovac (Knasmullner 64), Ljubicic, Ivan; Schwab; Berisha (Murg 82)
Inter: Handanovic; Cedric, De Vrij, Miranda, Asamoah; Vecino, Borja Valero; Politano (Candreva 77), Nainggolan (D’Ambrosio 82), Perisic; Martinez
Ref: Stieler (GER)