Inter swept into the Europa League Round of 16 with a 4-0 victory over Rapid Vienna, including splendid strikes from Andrea Ranocchia and Ivan Perisic.
The Nerazzurri won the first leg 1-0 thanks to a Lautaro Martinez penalty, but were again without Mauro Icardi officially due to a knee problem, an injury that flared up just after he was stripped of the captaincy. Keita Balde Diao was injured, with Dalbert, Roberto Gagliardini and Joao Mario not on the UEFA list due to FFP issues.
Inter broke through with their first real chance, as a cross found Matias Vecino at the back post, his finish from a tight angle went in at the far bottom corner before Lautaro Martinez could get a final touch.
The Nerazzurri doubled their lead with a magnificent and unexpected goal from centre-back Ranocchia. The former captain rarely gets to play nowadays, but was on the edge of the box when a clearance was coming down, swung a splendid right-foot volley into the bottom corner and San Siro gave him a standing ovation. Luciano Spalletti had said this week that Ranocchia was one of the leaders, like an unofficial captain.
Moments later, Ranocchia’s error accidentally sent Pavlovic clear, but the angled drive flashed across the face of goal to skim the upright.
It should’ve been 3-0 just before half-time, as Richard Strebinger only parried a Perisic strike into the path of Antonio Candreva, who horribly ballooned over from five yards.
Ranocchia almost got his second of the night, a twisting header from a Marcelo Brozovic free kick whistling past the far top corner. Perisic sold a dummy to a defender and flashed his angled drive across the face of goal, then Candreva went on a remarkable mazy run past several tackles and put back the cross for Borja Valero to blast over.
There was still time for a fantastic third, as Perisic sprung the offside trap, drew the goalkeeper out wide and his delightful lob beat both players attempting a goal-line clearance.
Perisic also added an assist, running on to a Radja Nainggolan through ball and pulling back from the by-line for Matteo Politano to sweep in from 10 yards. At this stage, Rapid were down to 10 men, as Thomas Murg limped off after all the substitutions had been completed.
Nainggolan tried to get in on the act too, but slipped as he turned the volley off target from Politano’s pull-back.
Inter 4-0 Rapid Vienna (5-0 agg)
Vecino 11 (I), Ranocchia 18 (I), Perisic 80 (I), Politano 87 (I)
Inter: Handanovic; Cedric, Ranocchia, Skriniar (Miranda 77), Asamoah; Vecino, Brozovic (Borja Valero 61); Candreva, Nainggolan, Perisic; Lautaro Martinez (Politano 66)
Rapid Vienna: Strebinger; Potzmann, Sonnleitner, M Hofmann, Bolingoli-Mbombo (Schobesberger 75); Grahovac, Ljubicic; Murg, Knasmüllner (Schwab 64), Ivan (Muldur 64); Pavlovic
Ref: Dias (POR)
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