What a difference a week can make. Inter Milan, on the back of two first-half goals from Matias Vecino and Andrea Ranocchia, advanced to the Europa League round of 16 after a 4-0 win over Rapid Wien at the Giuseppe Meazza Thursday.
Ivan Perisic added a third goal in the second half – his first since mid-December. Matteo Politano capped off the night with Inter’s fourth goal late in the match.
Inter advanced 5-0 on aggregate.
It marked the fourth straight win in all competitions for the Nerazzurri who have been mired with issues surrounding Argentinian striker Mauro Icardi – who did not play in Thursday’s match – is third straight absence.
Despite the drama surrounding the club, off the pitch, Inter have seemed to find its offensive form, scoring eight goals in those four wins.
The loss was the third straight for Rapid Wien, who had not played a match since their 1-0 home loss to Inter in the first leg last week.
While Rapid Wien started off attacking more than in the first leg, it was Inter who assumed control early in the match.
In the 11th minute, the Nerazzurri started driving with Ivan Perisic coming in from the left. The Croatian attempted an oft-angled shot that found its way to Antonio Candreva, but the ball went between Candreva’s legs.
Fortunately, it found the feet of Matias Vecino, who banged it home, putting Inter up 1-0 early.
Inter 1-0 Rapid Vienna (Vecino) pic.twitter.com/6AtSzp2eNa— InterYaSkrinYa (@InterYaSkrinYa) February 21, 2019
It didn’t take long for Inter to add to the lead.
In the 18th minute Rapid Wien struggled to clear out danger in front of their own area. As the ball bounced between defenders, Inter flooded the area.
Then, Andrea Ranocchia took a bounce and drilled a shot past Rapid Wien goalkeeper Richard Strebinger to double the Nerazzurri lead.
Rapid seemed to step up its attacking game after the second goal.
Thomas Murg took a right-footed shot from outside the box that was blocked away. Three minutes later, Andrija Pavlovic took an odd-angled shot that went right.
But, Inter continued its pressure as well. Marcelo Brozovic took a pass from Perisic in transition and fired high in the 26th minute.
Candreva and Perisic each took a shot at goal in the 41st minute but Candreva’s shot went wide right and Perisic’s attempt was saved by Strenbinger.
In the first half, Inter showed much more offensive prowess, taking five shots, three of which were on target. Rapid Wien, on the other hand, attempted six shots, none were on goal.
Ranocchia went right back to work to start the second half. In the 53rd minute, Brozovic crossed a ball into the area off a corner that found Ranocchia’s head. The attempt, however, went wide to the right.
Brozovic put in another cross in the 55th minute that found Lautaro Martinez, but Strenbinger saved the ball in the center of goal.
Perisic had back-to-back attempts for Inter in the 68th and 69th minute, but both of his shots missed the mark. Conversely, both Candreva and Matteo Politano found Perisic in position to take both shots.
Perisic finally found the back of the net in the 80th minute when Inter developed in transition following a blocked shot by Rapid Wien’s Srdjan Grahovac.
In that transition, Candreva found Perisic streaking toward the net and placed a nice pass that Perisic was able to finish by getting Strenbinger out of position, putting Inter Milan up 3-0 and the match out of reach.
Inter 3-0 Rapid Vienna (PERISIC) pic.twitter.com/2OOyJSravl— InterYaSkrinYa (@InterYaSkrinYa) February 21, 2019
The goal from Perisic was his fourth of the season and his first in eight matches across all competitions for Inter.
Perisic was involved in Inter’s fourth goal of the night, picking out Politano coming down the center of the area. Politano was able to take Perisic’s cross from the left and one-touch it into the back of the net in the 87th minute.
Inter 4-0 Rapid Vienna (Politano) pic.twitter.com/M4jYKsZe41— InterYaSkrinYa (@InterYaSkrinYa) February 21, 2019
In other Europa League matches, Slavia Praha knocked out Genk, 4-1 on aggregate while Chelsea defeated Malmo 5-1 on aggregate. Arsenal, Benfica, Rennes, Dynamo Kyiv, Napoli, Valencia, Zenit St. Petersburg, Dinamo Zagreb, Villareal, Eintracht Frankfurt, FC Krasnodar, Sevilla and RB Salzburg all advanced.
The round of 16 draw will take place at 1 p.m. local time in Lyon, Switzerland. The draw is completely random as no seeding or country restrictions are at play.
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