For about 78 minutes, the dream of Inter Milan reaching the Champions League next season were on life support.
But, in a span of four minutes, Inter went from Europa League to Champions League thanks to goals by Mauro Icardi and Matias Vecino, with a 3-2 win over Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico.
Inter kept up its pressure being down 2-1 after the first half.
But, after 78 minutes, it all changed.
Mauro Icardi was taken down in the area, ironically by future Inter defender Stefan De Vrij. The Argentine capitalized on the penalty to pull the Nerazzurri even with Lazio in the chase for Serie A’s fourth and final Champions League spot.
GOAL ⚽️ Icardi fires @Inter level to keep their @ChampionsLeague dreams alive! Dramatic finish to come here.#SerieA #LazioInter pic.twitter.com/8Al1UdykeT— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS) May 20, 2018
Of course, that means Icardi shares the capocannoniere with Ciro Immobile and conspiracy theories will run abound with De Vrij and Inter and the take down in the area.
But, after the penalty, two minutes later, it happened again.
After pulling Immobile prior to the Icardi penalty, Lazio was reduced to 10 men after a red card was shown to Senad Lulic.
Then, after subbing in Andrea Ranocchia, Inter got the wish it asked for. Danilo D’Ambrosio drilled in a cross and Matias Vecino headed home what would be the winner for the Nerazzurri.
SCENES AT THE OLIMPICO!!!!— beIN SPORTS USA (@beINSPORTSUSA) May 20, 2018
The pendulum swings in favor of @Inter_en after Vecino capitalizes on @OfficialSSLazio's second-half implosion. 3-2. #LazioInter pic.twitter.com/aJSbFRsLKE
The first half started just as most expected … with both teams maintaining a rapid offensive pace. Even with having the advantage, Lazio refused to sit back and play defense.
That pace resulted in the first goal of the game as Adam Marusic drilled a shot that seemed to be headed out of bounds, but it ricocheted off the leg of Ivan Perisic and into the bottom corner of the net to put Lazio up 1-0 in the 9th minute.
Lazio take a crucial lead over Inter courtesy of a wicked deflection! pic.twitter.com/QbXyU6Qm0I— Serie A Videos (@SerieAVideos) May 20, 2018
Icardi had an opportunity to equalize minutes later when he intercepted a pass from Stefan Radu but pushed the shot on goal wide. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic nearly doubled Lazio’s lead, but his shot hit the top of the post.
Finally, in the 29th minute, Inter took advantage of their first corner of the game. The delivery from Marcelo Brozovic pin-balled on the goal line before Danilo D’Ambrosio maneuvered around the line and Thomas Strakosha to equalize.
GOOOOOAL!!!!— beIN SPORTS USA (@beINSPORTSUSA) May 20, 2018
Quick thinking from D'Ambrosio draws @Inter_en level and one goal away from a @ChampionsLeague berth. #LazioInter pic.twitter.com/yKrk86kqmO
Inter kept up its pressure, but it got them in trouble in the latter stages of the first half. The Nerazzurri were making an attack, but Senad Lulic took possession and threaded a perfect pass to Felipe Anderson who quickly moved around the Inter defense and grounded a shot out of the reach of Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.
COUNTER-ATTACKING PERFECTION— beIN SPORTS USA (@beINSPORTSUSA) May 20, 2018
Felipe Anderson goes coast to coast to recapture the lead for @OfficialSSLazio, and now two goals stand between @Inter_en and their UCL hopes. #LazioInter pic.twitter.com/QEqYHzofxq
Lazio nearly added to its lead a few minutes before halftime, but Handanovic pushed away a stinging attempt from Milinkovic-Savic.
The win changes things for Inter in terms of spending as well. With Rafinha and Joao Cancelo now likely to sign permanently with Inter and Icardi and Perisic also likely to stay, the Nerazzurri are adding De Vrij and Kwadwo Asamoah on free transfers. And, let’s not forget Lautaro Martinez joining from Racing Club as well.
Oh, I would imagine Luciano Spalletti is staying too.
What do you think? Post your comments below!