Inter were made to rue so many chances in Kiev, hitting the crossbar twice and Romelu Lukaku penalty appeals waved away in a 0-0 draw with Shakhtar Donetsk.
The Nerazzurri welcomed Achraf Hakimi back after his ‘false positive’ COVID-19 test ruled him out of the 2-2 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach, while Stefan de Vrij also returned, but Alexis Sanchez, Stefano Sensi, Milan Skriniar, Roberto Gagliardini, Matias Vecino and Ionut Radu were still out and Christian Eriksen benched.
Shakhtar caused a huge shock when beating Real Madrid 3-2 in Spain, having been 3-0 up at one stage, despite missing half the squad due to COVID. They were still without Sergiy Kryvtsov, Ismaily, Maksym Malyshev, Viktor Kovalenko, Yevgen Konoplyanka, Junior Moraes and Fernando, while the likes of Taison, Alan Patrick and Mykola Matvienko were back on the bench.
Inter beat Shakhtar Donetsk 5-0 in the Europa League semi-final back in August, but only four of the Ukrainian starting XI were playing two months later.
There was an early problem for the hosts, as Dentinho pulled up clutching his hamstring and had to make way for Taison.
Inter had the first real chances moments later, as Romelu Lukaku forced a save at the near post, then pulled back the rebound to the edge of the area for Nicolò Barella to smash against the crossbar.
Barella went close again when he ran on to a Hakimi through ball, sent Dodo to ground and tested the goalkeeper, but the offside flag was up for a marginal call.
Lukaku’s glancing header whistled inches wide on a corner, Lautaro failed to make the most of a rushed Anatolii Trubin exit, but the young goalkeeper got his fingertips to a ferocious Lukaku free kick to push it on to the crossbar on 42 minutes in a remarkable save.
Trubin did well on 54 minutes to beat away a Marcelo Brozovic strike, but incredibly Lautaro shinned it well wide on the rebound from seven yards.
Arturo Vidal turned a free header over from a corner, but Lukaku had penalty appeals waved away when Bondar had his arm across Lukaku’s chest and neck as he tried to reach a loose ball.
There was also a scare, Tete unable to make the most of a terrible Ashley Young back-pass, the England international hobbling off moments later.
Shakhtar Donetsk 0-0 Inter
Shakhtar Donetsk: Trubin; Dodò, Khocholava (Matviyenko 62), Bondar, Korniienko; Maycon, Marcos Antonio; Tete, Marlos (Alan Patrick 87), Solomon; Dentinho (Taison 15)
Inter: Handanovic; D'Ambrosio (Darmian 79), De Vrij, Bastoni; Hakimi, Brozovic, Vidal (Eriksen 79), Young (Pinamonti 85); Barella; Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez (Perisic 72)
Ref: Kabakov (BUL)