With a 1-3 loss in the first leg to overcome, the Inter players needed to put on a near-perfect performance to knock out the favorites of the Europa League. In the days leading up to the match, players and staff had appealed to fans to come out and help spur the team on to attempt an incredible comeback. The Italians needed a 2-0 victory to move on to the next round (though given our defense it was smarter to hope for 3 goals).
With Shaqiri still slightly injured Kovacic took the creative role linking the midfield and attack, and Carrizo was in goal hoping to make amends for his horror show last week.
The match started with Inter pushing to get an early goal, and Wolfsburg perfectly content with sitting back and hitting Inter on the counter. Wolfsburg were very well organized when not in possession and made sure that the Nerazzurri players were not able to really get a good passing rhythm closer to goal and limited their attacking abilities to long balls for Palacio and Icardi to run onto.
Whenever Wolfsburg broke out against the Inter back-line they looked dangerous, and in the 24th minute they took the lead. Kevin De Bruyne was found on the left side, and when Juan Jesus was drifting from Caligiuri, De Bruyne squared it for him shoot. Carrizo got something on the ball but it wasn't enough to prevent Wolfsburg from increasing the aggregate scoreline.
Inter kept huffing and puffing for a goal without any real threats coming until right at half time, with Guarin getting a close range shot blocked by Bengalio (who admittedly had a very good match). At halftime the aggregate score was 1-4 and Inter needed 3 unanswered second half goals to force extra time.
The second half continued in the same theme of the first, Inter pushing without anything happening due to the organization and pressure of the German side, with them always threatening to increase their lead further on the break. Kovacic picked up a slight injury and was replaced by Kuzmanovic in the 55th minute.
Palacio was prevented from scoring by Bengalio's legs in the 67th minute but he kept pushing and was finally able to get a goal in the 71st minute. Some good interplay ended up with Hernanes chipping the ball into Palacio's path for him to volley home.
Besides the goal though, there wasn't any real pressure that Wolfsburg wasn't able to handle for the rest of the match and they ended up taking the lead again in the match right before the 90th minute. Arnold set up Bendtner to shoot which bounced past Carrizo and into the back of the net. The tie ended on aggregate 5-2.
I thought I would be mad after this elimination, but I'm not. I'm dissapointed with the lack of drive from the players throughout the 90 minutes, but more than that, I'm resigned. I'm resigned to the fact that this team is not good enough to be in the next round. I'm resigned to the fact that this team does not deserve to be in Europe next season. I'm resigned to the fact that the defense is a trainwreck that will continue to drag this team down, and it will probably only get worse if Handanovic leaves.
But I'm also a little hopeful. I'm hopeful that Mancini knows the problems this team face and having a preseason with the squad will help. I'm hopeful since Mancini has proven to be able to bring in big names that he will push for the right players to improve the side. I'm hopeful that this will be the last "year zero", and next season the team can start pushing up the table back when a side like Inter belongs.
So goodbye Europe, hopefully we'll see you soon.