COLOGNE - Lukaku’s foot has been the source of many dreams this year, which started in the summer of 2019 and ended over a year later with a painful defeat. So many brilliant moments have been produced by his feet this year, with our big Belgian scoring 34 of Inter’s 113 goals this season. Yet it was that very same foot that deflected Diego Carlos’ effort past Handanovic and into the back of the Inter net. An involuntary and unfortunate touch, which caused what would go on to be the winning goal for Sevilla, the goal that condemned us to a bitter end to the 2019/20 season. Sevilla have now won their sixth UEFA Cup/Europa League title, beating us 3-2, and the bitter feeling left by this game will accompany us throughout this period, in which we must rediscover ourselves, recharge the batteries and then go again for next season.
It was a strange game, one in which we never really brought out our style to bear. In spite of this, it was Inter who took the lead early on: Lukaku won the penalty and slotted it away himself. 34 goals this season, equalling Ronaldo’s record in his debut season with the Club. That goal should have settled it in our favour, but Sevilla came back. Experience, toughness and a little hint of cunning. We found it tough to put together any meaningful passages of play which may have resulted in goals in this Europa League final. We lacked a certain fluidity in our movement. We were constrained and perhaps caught in Sevilla’s trap. They, on the other hand, were adept at breaking up the flow of the game with small niggling fouls and also... the goals we conceded.
Let’s take a look at the statistics to try and figure out what happened last night in Cologne. Sevilla had more efforts on goal than us, taking a total of 14 shots with six on target. Our attack meanwhile produced less than usual, taking just nine shots with five on target. Lukaku and Lautaro especially struggled to link up, despite our Belgian managing to showcase his quality on the pitch as he won the penalty to make it 1-0 and created a great chance which Bounou kept out at 2-2 in the second half. Having come on in the closing stages, Sanchez couldn’t quite do enough to find or create an equaliser, his one main effort being cleared off the line by Koundé. It was a balanced game in terms of possession (Inter having 53%), the Nerazzurri also having a significantly higher amount of the ball at the start of the second half as they searched for that elusive winner.
For just the fourth time during this very long season, we lost after letting in three goals, with this also happening against Dortmund and in our two matches against Sassuolo. We conceded two goals from headers, something we’ve ironically excelled in at the other end of the pitch this campaign. We also scored through a headed effort against Sevilla: in nodding home, Godin became the sixth player to score in both a Champions League and Europa League final after Steven Gerrard, Hernan Crespo, Dmitri Alenichev, Allan Simonsen and Pedro.
And while our 53-game season has finished with a defeat, we’re going to end on a positive note, highlighting some of the best Nerazzurri statistics from the game in Cologne: Bastoni made 63 passes, three tackles and four clearances, while he also managed to regain possession on five occasions. Young, meanwhile, had a 100% pass competition rate and Lukaku created two opportunities.