After the 7-0 drubbing of Sassuolo this past weekend, Inter took a lengthy plane ride to Ukraine where they would face Dnipro in their first group match of the Europa League. Mateo Kovacic had already been ruled out of the midweek match due to injury and if the Nerazzurri were in hopes of replicating the score line, the team would need to step up its creativity in attack with the magical Croatian out.
Dnipro: Boyko; Fedetskiy, Douglas, Mazuch, Strinic; Bruno Gama, Kankava, Rotan, Kravchenko; Konoplyanka; Zozulya
Substitutes: Kalinic, Cheberyachko, Lastuvka, Luchkevych, Shakhov, Politylo
Manager: Myron Markevych
Inter: Handanovic; Campagnaro, Vidic, Juan Jesus; D'Ambrosio, Hernanes, M'Vila, Kuzmanovic, Dodò; Guarin; Icardi
Substitutes: Carrizo, Jonathan, Andreolli, Osvaldo, Palacio, Obi, Ranocchia
Manager: Walter Mazzarri
Inter's opening Europa League group stage fixture saw Walter Mazzarri shifting his lineup from the one used for the 7-0 win over Sassuolo, as Kovacic and Yuto Nagatomo were recovering from injuries while Gary Medel had to serve a one game suspension from his time at Sevilla. Also, it is interesting to note that tonight served as Fredy Guarin's first time donning the captain's armband, Andrea Ranocchia was given the match off and started on the bench.
The first 45 minutes were lackluster, to say the least. Inter had a few opportunities, including free kicks around the penalty area which amounted to goal kicks for the home side. A predominant theme through the first half was Dnipro players rolling around on the ground, which seemed to gain sympathy with the referee.
In the last five minutes of the half, the Ukrainian side seemingly spent more time on the ground trying to get fouls called on the Inter players while also appealing for a nonexistent penalty. Guarin was also brought down near the Dnipro penalty area, but that would have been a harsh penalty if called.
What should have been called a penalty, though, was the hand ball committed by a Dnipro player, as his arm deflected a Guarin cross while inside his own box right before halftime:
The second half started out with more of the same, as there was no urgency shown by Inter. The first meaningful attack of the evening evoked a double save from the Dnipro keeper as Danilo D'Ambrosio and Mauro Icardi fired off continuous shots that could have easily put the away side on the board.
In an effort to win this game, Mazzarri made the decision to go with a more attacking option shortly thereafter, as Osvaldo came on to replace Kuzmanovic. Dnipro were soon down to ten men as well, as Rotan received two yellow cards within a span of eight minutes.
Inter finally broke the deadlock through D'Ambrosio, who had already been having quite a game. It was nearly identical to the chance he had earlier that was saved, but this time his fancy footwork and nutmegging precision handed the Nerazzurri all three points from the match.
— Interista (@InterPrimavera) September 18, 2014
While this match was far from the 7-0 masterpiece from a few days prior, all that mattered was bringing home all three points. There is no rest for the weary, as Inter travel to Sicily to face Palermo on Sunday.
1st halk: N/A
2nd Half: D'Ambrosio (71')