Inter vs Leverkusen 2-1: A Struggle to Reach Europa League Semis

Inter fought tooth and nail to preserve a 2-1 lead they gained in the first half of their Europa League Quarter-Final against Bayer Leverkusen to book a place in the Top 4 of the competition for the first time since 1998.

In the first bout of the Europa League Quarter-Finals, played on neutral turf in Dusseldorf, the Nerazzurri took the lead with a stunning one-two by Nicoló Barella and Romelu Lukaku but saw Peter Bosz’s side quickly reducing the gap and had to suffer until the end as they saw two penalties disallowed by the VAR. 

After 15 minutes which both sides spent studying each other, Nicoló Barella pounced on a ball cleared by the German defense to power a sharp right-foot shot that left no chance to goalie Lukas Hradecky. Inter’s Sardinian midfielder failed to seal a brace a few minutes later as he hit the goalkeeper from point-blank range from a suggestion by Lautaro Martinez.

Romelu Lukaku, however, quickly took care of scoring the second for the Nerazzurri after winning a power battle in the box with his marker Edmund Tapsoba. The big Belgian scored for his 9th Europa League game in a row, breaking Alan Shearer’s competition record which stood since 2005.

Romelu Lukaku scored the first for Inter against Leverkusen despite falling in the process. A true demonstration of power from the Belgian forward!

In the 22nd minute, with Bayer in a confused state and Inter fully in control, Lukaku progressed on the left flank all alone but failed to find the back of the net as he also saw his shot stopped by Hradecky.

It looked like a stroll in the park for Antonio Conte’s side, but the Germans suddenly gave some signs of life and reduced the gap via Kai Havertz who made the best of a vertical pass by Kevin Volland.

One minute later, Inter were served the first disappointment by referee Carlos del Cerro Grande who flagged a Daley Sinkgraven handball in the box but then, with Lukaku already positioning the ball on the penalty spot, canceled his decision after checking the VAR.

Bayer’s goal and the disallowed penalty kept the game alive and entertaining in the first half: Tapsoba gave life to a thrilling physical battle with Lukaku while Bayer got more and more dangerous, especially from the left flank with winger Moussa Diaby – whose crosses Danilo D’Ambrosio struggled to contain.

Four minutes after the restart Inter got a new chance but Lukaku turned into an impromptu Bayer defender as he found himself on the trajectory of a Roberto Gagliardini challenge from close range.

Leverkusen answered with a shot from Kerem Demirbay who took advantage of a Nicoló Barella mistake. Samir Handanovic deflected the ball above the crossbar.

Nicoló Barella of Inter chases Kai Havertz of Leverkusen – both scored a goal in the Nerazzurri’s 2-1 win over the Germans

The Germans seemed more active in the second half so Conte tried to turn the tables around the one-hour mark by sending in Victor Moses, Christian Eriksen, and finally Alexis Sanchez – to replace a colorless version of Lautaro Martinez. Eriksen quickly served Sanchez a fine pass but the Chilean striker saw his conclusion parried back twice – first by the goalkeeper and then by the defense.

Bayer’s coach Peter Bosz didn’t stay standing and switched to a more offensive module by adding to the mix Wendell and Nadiem Amiri. Moussa Diaby continued to be a thorn in Inter’s side that Ashley Young took care of guarding after D’Ambrosio went out for Moses.

In the 80th minute, Wendell produced a dangerous cutting cross from the left that both Demirbay and Volland failed to catch despite Inter’s defense being taken by surprise. 

Both teams seemed to be running out of breath as minutes went by and scoring chances got less effective and precise. Then, at the last minute, Del Cerro Grande did it again. The Spanish referee awarded a penalty to Inter as substitute Karim Bellarami crippled Christian Eriksen in the box.

But then, and again with Romelu Lukaku standing on the penalty spot with the ball in his hands for a good 60 seconds, he checked the VAR to realize that there was a Nicoló Barella handball just before Bellarami’s foul.

Inter had to suffer a few more minutes before Del Cerro Grande’s final whistle sent them into the Semis, where they will face the winner of tomorrow’s bout between Shakhtar Donetsk and Basel. The Nerazzurri‘s European dream can continue.


August 10, 2020 – Europa League 2019-20 Quarter-Finals

SCORERS: 15′ Barella (I), 21′ Lukaku (I), 24′ Havertz (B)

INTER (3-5-2): Handanovic; Godin, de Vrij, Bastoni (84′ Skriniar); D’Ambrosio (59′ Moses), Barella, Brozovic, Gagliardini (59′ Eriksen), Young; Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez (64′ Sanchez) (Padelli, Sensi, Ranocchia, Borja Valero, Esposito, Agoumé, Biraghi, Candreva) Coach: Conte
BAYER LEVERKUSEN (4-2-3-1): Hradecky; L. Bender (86′ Bellarabi), Tah, Tapsoba, Sinkgraven (68′ Wendell); Palacios (59′ Bailey), Baumgartlinger (68′ Amiri); Havertz, Demirbay, Diaby; Volland (86′ Alario) (Özcan, Lomb, Dragovic, Weiser, Wirtz) Coach: Bosz

REFEREE: Del Cerro Grande (Spain)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: D’Ambrosio Eriksen (I), Sinkgraven, L. Bender, Tapsoba (B); Extra Time: 1st Half 1′, 2nd Half 6′