Makes it perfect 10 in Europa League
It’s Sevilla v Inter final
Rejected at Old Trafford by Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and shipped to Italy unceremoniously, Belgian international Romelu Lukaku is certainly enjoying his football again.
With an impressive scoring record, he is now leading the orchestra as his Italian club, Internazionale cruise into the Europa League final with a crushing victory against Shakhtar Donetsk.
The Antonio Conte’s side led by a single goal at the interval after Lautaro Martínez had headed them in front but blitzed their opponents with four more goals in the second half of the game.
Danilo D’Ambrosio increased the lead and Martínez was on target again before Lukaku’s late double extended the former Manchester United and Everton striker’s Europa League scoring streak. He has now scored in his last 10 matches in the competition.
Back in the final of a continental competition for the first time since their memorable treble of 2009‑10 under José Mourinho, Friday’s showpiece against Sevilla will be the 10th European final in Inter’s history.
Shakhtar, who were looking to reach their second, having won the UEFA Cup in 2009, will go home with regrets after failing to show any urgency on the night.
Martínez headed home Nicolò Barella’s cross after a mistake by the goalkeeper, Andrei Pyatov, in what was the game’s first attempt on goal. Shakhtar enjoyed the majority of possession, especially in the first half, but looked stumped as to how to deal with Conte’s organised and disciplined defensive unit.
The Ukrainian side finally offered something late in the first half when Marcos Antonio’s long-range effort flew narrowly over the crossbar.
Another mistake early in the second half almost gifted Inter a second goal. Davit Khocholava got himself in a mess on the ball and Martínez fairly barged him aside before spotting Pyatov off his line and going for a lob, but Shakhtar’s veteran keeper leapt high to tip the ball away.
Shakhtar had a golden opportunity to equalise just after the hour mark. It looked a carbon copy of the goal which Inter had scored in the first half.
Mykola Matviyenko swung in a cross and Júnior Moraes met it with a header but his effort was straight at Samir Handanovic. Either side of him and it would have been a goal.
It proved pivotal as Inter went straight down the opposite end and extended their lead when D’Ambrosio headed in from a Marcelo Brozovic corner. Martínez fired in his second goal of the game after 74 minutes with a low shot from 20 yards before Lukaku got on the scoresheet four minutes later, calmly beating Pyatov when put through one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
The Belgian scored again seven minutes from time, showing a good turn of pace to race past his marker before firing past Pyatov once more
“It’s an incredible night, the kind we dreamed of. It has been a long time since I had played such a match and we have shown that Inter are ready for the big matches,” Martínez told Sky Sport Italia. “I am very happy for the team, which is playing well and growing match after match.”
Antonio Conte highlighted his side’s lack of recent experience compared with Sevilla, after he reached the first European final of his managerial career. “Many of our players are facing this kind of game for the first time” Conte said.
“Sevilla have great experience, they have won this competition several times. But we are ready to try giving a great joy to our fans. They should be proud of these guys because they are giving everything.”
Shakhtar head coach Luis Castro lamented a “very sad ending” to his side’s European campaign.
“We’ve had a fantastic journey until this game – of course, we are unhappy with the result. We were not ourselves after the second goal, and the coach must always take the responsibility”, Castro said. – The Guardian reports