Inter kicked off their 2014-15 campaign with European competition, as they traveled to Iceland to face Stjarnan. The Nerazzurri were heavily favored going into the first leg of this tie and they did not disappoint, as they turned in a comfortable three goal win.
Official Lineups from the Inter site:
Stjarnan: 1 Jonsson; 4 Vemmelund, 9 Laxdal D., 29 Rauschenberg, 14 Arnason; 7 Johannsson A., 16 Runarsson; 11 Bjorgvinsson, 8 Punyed, 17 Finsen; 10 Gunnarsson
Substitutes: 25 Johannesson, 2 Laxdal J., 12 Aegisson, 20 Ottesen, 23 Blondal, 24 Toft, 27 Johannsson G
Inter: 1 Handanovic; 23 Ranocchia, 15 Vidic, 5 Juan Jesus; 2 Jonathan, 88 Hernanes, 90 M'Vila, 10 Kovacic, 22 Dodò; 19 Botta; 9 Icardi
Substitutes: 6 Andreolli, 7 Osvaldo, 13 Guarin, 17 Kuzmanovic, 20 Obi, 30 Carrizo, 33 D'Ambrosio
While much has been made about Stjarnan’s epic goal celebrations (as mentioned by Max in his preview), Inter had no interest in becoming a part of their viral videos.
Inter manager Walter Mazzarri rolled out three center backs with Andrea Ranocchia, Nemanja Vidic, and Juan Jesus to help protect Samir Handanovic’s goal. Jonathan and Dodo flanked the midfield of Hernanes, Yann M’Vila, and Mateo Kovacic, while Ruben Botta and Mauro Icardi looked to provide the finishing touches in front of the Icelanders’ goal.
The Nerazzurri started the game attacking and in control, and they rarely let their foot off the gas throughout the 90 minutes. The visiting side’s first chance came early on in the third minute, with Icardi putting a header over the bar.
The first half was littered with scoring opportunities for Inter, including a Ranocchia header that necessitated a near goal line clearance from the home side. As the match neared halftime, it almost felt like the goal would never come despite holding majority possession. Icardi finally broke the deadlock in the 41st minute, as Kovacic passed the ball forward to Dodo, who in turn crossed it to Icardi. The Argentine took advantage of a defensive mistake by Stjarnan’s backline to give Inter the lead heading into halftime.
The Italian club kicked off the second half and picked up where they left off, not losing any momentum that they had built prior to the break. Three minutes into the half, Inter scored another goal thanks to teamwork between the two Brazilian wingbacks, Jonathan and Dodo. After Ranocchia passed the ball forward to Jonathan, the right back crossed the ball right in front of the home side’s goal, where it was met by Dodo to double the lead.
Stjarnan had few and far chances to attack, the closest coming in the last 15 minutes of the match. Handanovic was called into action during the Icelander’s 29% possession, as he made a save and had a slight miscommunication with Vidic when he was trying to catch a ball in his area.
Inter looked to shut the game down in the waning minutes of the match, as the substitute Pablo Osvaldo rattled the crossbar in the 87th minute. Danilo D’Ambrosio, who was subbed in earlier for Jonathan, scored the third and final goal for Inter in the 89th minute after Kovacic distributed the ball.
The return leg and first home match of the season is set for next Thursday, August 28. With a three goal cushion, the Nerazzurri have a foot through the door of the Europa League group stage.
Stjarnan 0-3 Inter:
First half: Icardi 41’
Second half: Dodo 48’, D’Ambrosio 89’