Inter come home to the Giuseppe Meazza with the first home match of the year for the second leg tie of the Europa League playoffs. They welcome Stjarnan and carry a three goal lead after they won in Iceland in the first leg. Would the aggregate goals be a comfortable cushion or would it have an adverse effect on play?
Official Lineups from the Inter site:
Inter: 30 Carrizo; 6 Andreolli, 23 Ranocchia, 5 Juan Jesus; 33 D'Ambrosio, 88 Hernanes, 90 M'Vila, 20 Obi, 55 Nagatomo; 10 Kovacic, 7 Osvaldo
Substitutes: 1 Handanovic, 2 Jonathan, 9 Icardi, 13 Guarin, 15 Vidic, 17 Kuzmanovic, 97 Bonazzoli
Stjarnan: 1 Jonsson; 4 Vemmelund, 29 Rauschenberg, 9 Laxdal D., 14 Arnason; 7 Johannsson A., 8 Punyed; 11 Bjorgvinsson, 10 Gunnarsson, 24 Toft, 17 Finsen
Substitutes: 25 Johannesson, 12 Aegisson, 16 Runarsson, 18 Barddal, 20 Ottesen, 23 Blondal, 24 Toft, 27 Johannsson G
With Serie A starting this weekend, Walter Mazzarri used a mix of starters and reserves to take care of European business. Back up goalkeeper Juan Pablo Carrizo received the nod over the regular starter, Samir Handanovic. Marco Andreolli started in place of Nemanja Vidic, while Andrea Ranocchia and Juan Jesus kept their places. Both wingbacks were different from last week, as Danilo D'Ambrosio took over for Jonathan and Yuto Nagatomo for Dodo, who was not called up due to injury. Hernanes and Yann M'Vila started once again, though Joel Obi was inserted into the midfield and pushed Mateo Kovacic up into attack. Pablo Osvaldo was the lone striker of the night, giving Mauro Icardi the night off.
The Nerazzurri kicked off the first half and were comfortable on the ball, dominating play and possession for the majority of the opening minutes. Kovacic and Osvaldo were feeling the match tonight, and were working together early on to get the home team on the board. The first real chance of the match came in the 8th minute, as Nagatomo crossed a bullet into the Stjarnan box to find Osvaldo. El Pirata got his head onto it to deliver a nasty header that unfortunately bounced off the crossbar.
Hernanes was everywhere in the midfield, from tracking back in defense to pushing the ball up in attack. He had a shot on goal in the 23rd minute, which flew over the opponents' goal.
Inter finally got on the board in the 28th, after D'Ambrosio delivered a ball into the center to Osvaldo and the Stjarnan defense could not deal with it. Kovacic scored his first goal for Inter as he cleaned the ball up while depositing it into the back of the net.
Kovacic then doubled the Nerazzurri's lead almost singlehandedly. After he received the ball from an Osvaldo back heel pass near the center circle, he galloped forward with the Icelandic defenders chasing him. As he approached the Stjarnan goal, the keeper came out to challenge him with the Croatian international coolly chipping the ball over his head for his second on the night. Words cannot describe how beautiful this was, so here's a video of the goal:
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Inter finished the half 2-0 and were only 45 minutes from the Europa League group stages.
The Nerazzurri picked up right where they left off in the second half, with Osvaldo netting his first Nerazzurri goal after heading home a cross from Nagatomo. Literally within the first minute, the striker was finally rewarded for his excellent work throughout the match as he made it 3-0.
Even though Inter was up by three, Kovacic was not finished. In the 51st minute, Nagatomo ran down the wing and into the box then passed the ball to Kovacic, who was near the edge of the penalty area. Kovacic composed his shot to give Inter a four goal lead, as well as giving himself a hat trick. Shortly thereafter, Mazzarri smartly substituted the magician with Icardi, as Kovacic deserved some rest before kicking the season off this Sunday.
After this first substitution, Mazzarri replaced Obi with Kuzmanovic in the 58th minute and Jonathan in place of Hernanes in the 67th. Not even two minutes later, Icardi made it five, with a great goal as he turned on the defender to hit it hard into their net.
If Inter were looking to put their stamp on this game, they did just that and then some. Not content with just one goal, Icardi used his strength to stay on his feet and helped himself to a doppietta in the 80th minute. He had a few more chances in the last ten minutes, but with six on the board, it was deemed enough.
40,000 filled the Meazza for tonight's goal fest, and in return for their support, were treated to a fantastic display by Inter. As great as this win was and how delightful it was to see a 6-spot dropped on an opponent, it is imperative that Inter build upon this win and bring the momentum into the Serie A season.
Inter 6-0 Stjarnan
First half: Kovacic 28', 33'
Second half: Osvaldo 47', Kovacic 51', Icardi 69', 80'
Man of the Match: Mateo Kovacic