It took a long time to finally arrive, but Edin Dzeko bagged a brace for this crucial Inter victory over Shakhtar Donetsk, which should put them into the Champions League knockouts.
The Nerazzurri had a rough start to this European campaign, but knew a win would guarantee passage to the Round of 16 for the first time in a decade, so long as Real Madrid avoided defeat to Sheriff. Alexis Sanchez and Stefan de Vrij were still out of action, while Roberto De Zerbi’s Shakhtar made the trip without Alan Patrick, Georgiy Sudakov, Ismaily and Lassina Traore.
The last three meetings between these clubs ended goalless, albeit with Inter hitting the woodwork three times.
It was an aggressive start, Nicolò Barella firing over when off balance, then the midfielder setting up Lautaro Martinez with a dummy only for two shots to be charged down by Maycon. On the resulting corner, Andrea Ranocchia’s towering header skimmed the far post.
Ivan Perisic had the ball in the net, but it was disallowed for the earlier Matteo Darmian offside position.
Dzeko fired straight at Anatolii Trubin from point-blank range and on another chance his header was palmed off the line, but the Bosnian also shinned over when gifted the ball by the goalkeeper.
Fernando curled a couple of chances wide, while Lautaro Martinez went over far too easily when feeling Taras Stepanenko’s hand on his torso. Another Lautaro Martinez penalty appeal was rejected for a nudge from behind, as he seemed to run into the defender’s path.
Lautaro Martinez had the ball in the net on 57 minutes with a well-taken volley, but the goal was disallowed for his slight push on Mykola Matviyenko.
The deadlock was finally broken, along with the run of three consecutive 0-0 results between these teams, when Darmian’s shot was charged down and fell into the path of Dzeko to drill in from the edge of the area.
That opened up the spaces and Dzeko added a second soon after. Again, Perisic started the move down the left, this time floating a cross to the back post for the Bosnian’s header from a couple of yards.
Shakhtar Donetsk fought back and were incredibly unlucky not to get a goal, as Dodo was clear when his effort bounced off the near post from close range, rolled along the goal line and out before Mykhailo Mudryk could tap in at the back stick.
Stefano Sensi forced another great save out of Trubin in stoppages.
Inter 2-0 Shakhtar Donetsk
Dzeko 61, 66 (I)