Inter Milan return to a continental final for the first time in a decade, and they did it like in their best days.
Argentine Lautaro Martínez and Belgian Romelu Lukaku signed respective doubles and Inter ended their wait by beating Shakhtar 5-0 in the Europa League semi-final on Monday.
Inter managed to decipher Shakhtar in a defensive and competitive duel that was defined with four goals in the last half hour. The Italian painting. They will face Sevilla, five times champion of the tournament, in the match for the championship next Friday in Cologne.
“We reached the final by beating a very strong team, don’t be fooled by the result,” said Inter coach Antonio Conte. “We did a good job of not allowing them to play the way they wanted to.”
Since his arrival last year, Conte has imposed discipline on what looked like a divided team and rebuilt it around Lukaku, who has 33 touchdowns in his first season with the team.
Heading by Martínez in the 19th minute and by Danilo D’Ambrosio in the 64th minute led the Italian side to their first continental final since winning the Champions League in 2010 under Jose Mourinho. Martinez and Lukaku added another three touchdowns in a 10-minute span to lead the match.
Shakhtar goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov cleared directly into Inter midfielder Nicollo Barella, who sped down the right wing and sent an unreachable serve for Lukaku but perfect for Martinez, who opened the scoring with a header to the far post.
Inter strengthened their dominance when D’Ambrosio headed in from the post after a Josip Borozovic corner kick. The goal came less than two minutes after Shakhtar consumed their best chance of the game, a point-blank header from Junior Morae, who went straight into goalkeeper Samir Handanovic’s position.
The Italian club stifled Shakhtar’s ball-possession style of play with relentless pressure in the opponent’s half.
“They completely closed our attack lines,” commented coach Luis Castro.
Martínez signed his double at 74 minutes with a low shot from the border of the area and four minutes later the Argentine assisted Lukaku for the 4-0. The Belgian has scored in all Inter games in the Europa League this season. Lukaku left defender Davir Khocholava behind to close the score in the 84th minute.