Despite missing three members of its squad, Inter Milan didn’t let that stop them from taking their first step in the UEFA Europa League.
Thanks to a penalty in the 39th minute from Lautaro Martinez, Inter defeated Rapid Wien in the first of two legs in the round of 32 in Vienna Thursday.
The win puts Inter in a prime position to advance heading into the second leg at the Giuseppe Meazza next Thursday.
Inter was forced to change its lineup thanks to Mauro Icardi not traveling as Marcelo Brozovic and Milan Skriniar were both out thanks to suspensions.
Joao Miranda and Cedric Soares each earned defensive starts while Borja Valero and Radja Nainggolan both returned to the starting lineup.
#Handanovic— Inter (@Inter) February 14, 2019
Undici calciatori, undici Paesi, una sola Inter ⚫️ #BrothersOfTheWorld #RapidInter #UEL pic.twitter.com/ZOAUO2faM0
And the match wasn’t without a little roughness as the teams combined to pick up eight yellow cards – four apiece – in the match.
In the first half, it was all Inter Milan.
In fact, in the first two minutes of the match, the Nerazzurri had their first shot of the match when Matteo Politano drilled one from the center of the area that missed just to the right.
Matias Vecino had the next crack at goal two minutes later after Borja Valero found him just outside the area. Vecino’s delivery, however went wide to the left.
Ivan Perisic was next to attempt a shot in the 15th minute, but his free kick delivery was high and wide to the left.
Midway through the first half, both Valero and Radja Nainggolan each took a crack and finding the back of the net, but both attempts were blocked away.
Inter’s pressure started to get to Rapid Wien’s defense as Mario Sonnleitner was shown a yellow card for a dangerous foul. Stefan Schawb was cautioned in the 27th minute for dangerous play as the Nerazzurri continued to press.
Finally, in the 38th minute, Rapid’s rough play earned a penalty after Manuel Thurnwald took down Martinez in the area.
Martinez stepped up and put his delivery right under a diving Robert Strebinger to give Inter a 1-0 lead going into halftime.
For the first half, Inter Milan controlled possession for 70 percent of the match and had eight shots, two of which were on target. Rapid Wien, on the other hand, managed just one shot which was off the mark.
The rough play started again in the second half after Maximillian Hofmann picked up a yellow card for a bad foul in the 52nd minute as Inter continued to press the issue.
Rapid Wien drew their third yellow card of the match after Veton Berisha was carded for a dangerous foul in the 59th minute.
Politano had the first real shot at goal for Inter in the 59th minute, but his shot off the left foot was blocked away. Politano got in the mix a minute later when he found Vecino in the center of the penalty area. Vecino’s header, however, went over the bar and out of play.
Rapid got their first shot on target in the 62nd minute as Philipp Schobesberger took a pass from Andrea Ivan just outside the box, but his shot was blocked away. Christoph Knasmullner came through with the first real test for Samir Handanovic in the 66th minute, but Handanovic made a marvelous save to push the shot away from the top right corner of the goal.
A much fitter Nainggolan took two more stabs at goal in the 74th and 81st minutes, but neither found the target.
Regardless, Inter was able to hold fast and pick up the 1-0 win away at Vienna. The two teams will meet in the second leg of the round next Thursday at the Giuseppe Meazza. Between now and then, the Nerazzurri will have a home Serie A match with Sampdoria on Sunday, Feb. 17 in Milan.
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Other Europa League scores
BATE Borisov 1, Arsenal 0
Benfica 2, Galatasaray 1
Racing Genk 0, Slavia Prague 0
Bayer Leverkusen 0, Krasnodar 0
Stade Rennes 3, Real Betis 3
Valencia 2, Celtic 0
Club Brugge 2, FC Salzburg 1
Napoli 3, FC Zurich 1
Chelsea 2, Malmo FF 1
Shakhtar Donetsk 2, Eintracht Frankfurt 2
Villarreal 1, Sporting CP 0
Viktoria Plzen 2, Dinamo Zagreb 1