Luka Jovic gave Eintracht Frankfurt a precious away goal within six minutes at San Siro and a decimated Inter never found a way back, crashing out of the Europa League.
The first leg ended goalless, as Marcelo Brozovic had his penalty saved, so the Nerazzurri had to win here, as a score draw would send the Germans through. Luciano Spalletti had only 12 senior outfield players available, with Lautaro Martinez and Kwadwo Asamoah suspended, Radja Nainggolan and Joao Miranda injured, Mauro Icardi still unavailable after his knee ‘injury’, with Dalbert, Roberto Gagliardini and Joao Mario cup-tied. Keita Balde Diao was therefore rushed back to lead the way, but Brozovic rested ahead of Sunday’s Milan Derby.
Eintracht had scored in each of their last 11 European away fixtures and brought 14,000 fans with them to San Siro. Ante Rebic and David Abraham were out of action with suspended Gelson Fernandes, while Coach Adi Hutter sat out a touchline ban.
It was almost a nightmare start for Inter, as within three minutes Samir Handanovic had made a one-handed save on Kostic’s angled drive and Sebastien Haller turned the rebound on to the underside of the crossbar.
That was just a warning, because moments later Stefan de Vrij misjudged the bounce of the ball, fell over when trying to chase after Luka Jovic, as the Eintracht man lobbed Handanovic to open the scoring. It means Eintracht have now found the net in each of their last 12 European away fixtures.
Keita Balde Diao had a promising opportunity when he sprung the offside trap, but a very heavy touch allowed Kevin Trapp to gather.
Haller had the ball in the net on 27 minutes, but was offside on the tap-in at the near post.
Matias Vecino’s glancing header on a corner was charged down in the box, but Handanovic needed a desperate double save on Jovic’s angled drive, then reaching across to fingertip the loose ball off Haller’s feet from three yards.
Jovic blasted over from distance, his finish swerving past the far top corner.
Although there were no substitutions at half-time, Inter did move to three at the back with Danilo D’Ambrosio. Keita couldn’t quite reach a Candreva cross and Matteo Politano’s curler flashed wide, but Handanovic used his foot to parry from Haller at the base of the near post.
Mijat Gacinovic limped off and the Nerazzurri introduced Andrea Ranocchia, who charged down a Jovic strike before Kostic forced a tough save from Handanovic on the follow-up.
Milan Skriniar pushed to a more advanced role and his effort was deflected inches wide of the post. In the final stages, Spalletti threw on 16-year-old striker Sebastiano Esposito and 18-year-old Davide Merola.
Politano had to track back and stand his ground against Kostic on a four against three counter-attack, but Handanovic had to parry a Jovic free diving header in stoppages and Kostic daisy-cutter. Considering all the problems Inter had to deal with, only a 1-0 home defeat to unbeaten Eintracht - the top Europa League scorers - can perhaps be considered acceptable.
Inter 0-1 Eintracht Frankfurt (0-1 agg)
Jovic 6 (E)
Inter: Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, Skriniar, De Vrij, Cedric (Ranocchia 62); Borja Valero (Esposito 73), Vecino; Candreva, Politano (Merola 80), Perisic; Keita
Eintracht Frankfurt: Trapp; Da Costa, Hasebe, Hinteregger, N’Dicka; Gacinovic (De Guzman 59), Rode (Paciencia 89), Willems (Stendera 72), Kostic; Haller, Jovic
Ref: Hategan (ROU)