Inter made it tougher than it had to be, surviving a penalty miss scare, but Romelu Lukaku and substitute Christian Eriksen beat Getafe 2-0 to reach the Europa League quarter-finals.
This was a one-off Round of 16 tie, as not even the first leg was played back in February due to the COVID-19 crisis, so the winner would go into the Final Eight tournament in Germany, with Bayer Leverkusen or Glasgow Rangers in the quarter-final. Because of that, this was also played on neutral turf in Gelsenkirchen.
Antonio Conte chose the same XI that beat Atalanta 2-0 at the weekend to secure second place in Serie A, while Getafe went extra-defensive with a 4-5-1 formation, leaving Angel Rodriguez and Jorge Molina on the bench. Kenedy and Deyverson left after the final Liga game, which was 17 days ago.
It was immediately evident just what Getafe’s strengths were, because Stefan de Vrij was caught running forward and on the counter Jaime Mata just failed to get on the end of Nyom’s cross.
Moments later, Samir Handanovic flew to get his gloves to a Nemanja Maksimovic header that bounced off the ground and was going in at the far post.
David Soria rushed off his line to clear from Lautaro Martinez, but on the counter from that move, Marc Cucurella set up Mata and only a desperate Alessandro Bastoni sliding block prevented the goal.
Lautaro Martinez finally created a real chance for Inter on 25 minutes, riding two tackles to sprint into the box and his angled drive was brilliantly palmed one-handed out of the far bottom corner. He also stung Soria’s gloves moments later and the game was clearly turning from that early ferocious Getafe onslaught.
That was confirmed when Inter took the lead. Romelu Lukaku controlled a long Bastoni ball over the top, held off Xabi Etxeita and fired the angled drive through his legs into the far bottom corner. It was his 30th goal in all competition this season, only the fourth Inter player in 30 years to achieve that feat. He had also found the net in eight consecutive Europa League games, equalling the UEFA Cup record set by Alan Shearer in 2005 with Newcastle United.
After the restart, Nicolò Barella’s rocket took a slight deflection to flash just wide and on the resulting corner Soria made a save on the spectacular acrobatic Danilo D’Ambrosio scissor-kick volley, Diego Godin unable to turn in the rebound.
Inter were more and more in control, so Getafe threw on striker Angel Rodriguez and did get more into the game, Angel scuffing a finish wide and Handanovic palming a Mata header out from under the bar.
The referee decided after a VAR on-field review that Godin’s handling offence was worthy of a penalty on 76 minutes. Mata had already been substituted, so Jorge Molina stepped up and fired it wide of the near post. It looked as if Handanovic was ready to reach the ball if it had been on target, as he guessed the right side to dive.
Inter had the chance to kill the game moments later when Barella rolled it across from the left, but Lukaku incredibly scuffed the ball completely from just six yards out.
Christian Eriksen came off the bench and scored within a minute in Gelsenkirchen. D’Ambrosio tried to roll across for Lukaku, Djene made the shocking clearance straight to the Dane, who just had to fire in from eight yards.
Inter could’ve had more in the final minutes, but Soria parried the Alexis Sanchez header on an Eriksen free kick, then the Chilean went clear on goal only to place his lob incredibly wide.
Inter 2-0 Getafe
R Lukaku 33 (I), Eriksen 83 (I)
Inter: Handanovic; Godin, De Vrij, Bastoni; D'Ambrosio (Biraghi 84), Barella, Brozovic (Eriksen 82), Gagliardini, Young; R Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez (Alexis Sanchez 70)
Getafe: Soria; Olivera (Portillo 88), Etxeita, Djené, Suarez; Cucurella, Timor, Arambarri (Hugo Duro 88), Maksimovic (Angel Rodriguez 56), Nyom (Jason 69); Mata (Molina 69)
Ref: Taylor (ENG)
Missed penalty: Molina 76 (G)
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