Eder bagged a brace while Juan Pablo Carrizo saved a penalty to give Inter a 2-1 victory over Sparta Prague in their Europa League swansong.
Remarkably, both Inter and Southampton went out in the group phase, because Hapoel Be’er-Sheva earned a shock 1-1 draw at St Mary’s this evening.
The Nerazzurri were already eliminated after one win and four defeats, so Stefano Pioli performed a tactical experiment with the 3-4-3 formation and gave 17-year-old striker Andrea Pinamonti his senior debut. Figures like Joao Mario, Geoffrey Kondogbia and Gabriel ‘Gabigol’ Barbosa were ineligible for the Europa League. Sparta Prague also had nothing to play for, having already won the group.
Inter ultras boycotted the match, hanging up a large banner in the abandoned Curva Nord: ‘Four defeats from five games. This is what you deserve for your embarrassing efforts… Shame on you.’ The attendance was 14,856, many of them Sparta Prague supporters.
A free kick was touched on for Eder’s ferocious strike inches over the bar and the Italian-Brazilian also tested the goalkeeper with another snapshot at the near post.
The opening goal was created by two of the youth team members. Senna Miangue’s cross from the left was brilliantly hooked out of the air by Pinamonti, who with back to goal flicked it into the path of Eder. The first attempt was parried, but he bundled the rebound over the line.
Andrea Ranocchia misread a cross for David Lafata and the ricochet whistled just wide of the near post, risking an own goal, while Costa had to time his tackle perfectly to stop Eder sprinting into the box.
After the restart Ivan Perisic was introduced, but Sparta Prague equalised when Cristian Ansaldi gave it away in midfield and Borek Dockal’s cross found Lukas Marecek for a looping header under the bar from 14 yards.
Perisic nutmegged a defender to test the goalkeeper at the near post, but Sparta received a penalty when Marco Andreolli dragged down Lafata. However, Dockal saw his spot-kick brilliantly parried by Juan Pablo Carrizo, who has clearly learned a few tricks from suspended teammate Samir Handanovic.
Sparta had another penalty appeal moments later, but the Andreolli handball was too close to be considered voluntary.
Pinamonti sparked another dangerous counter for Inter and Ansaldi forced a save at the near post from Tomas Koubek, while Jonathan Biabiany drilled wide from the edge of the area.
Inter restored their advantage with another Eder goal in stoppages, as he gathered in the D, spun round and placed a snooker shot into the near bottom corner.
Inter 2-1 Sparta Prague
Eder 23, 90 (I), Marecek 54 (S)
Inter: Carrizo; Murillo, Andreolli, Ranocchia; Biabiany, Ansaldi, Melo, Miangue; Eder, Pinamonti (Bakayoko 80), Palacio (Perisic 46)
Sparta Prague: Koubek; Karavaev, Mazuch, Michael Kadlec, Costa; Julis (Dudl 89), Holek, Marecek, Cermak (Sacek 78); Dockal; Lafata (Pulkrab 74)
Ref: Vertenten (BEL)
Saved penalty: Dockal 65 (S)