Difficult, disappointing and almost incomprehensible. Deciphering Inter’s group stage elimination, as well as this draw, will prove to be a complex and painful task. With the game tied at 0-0, all that was needed was a goal to progress from Group B. However, it never arrived, despite the huge amount of effort put in over 90 minutes and the final seven-minute blitz in added time.
Ultimately, the match finished 0-0, as was the case in Kyiv. Our elimination stems from these two games against Shakhtar, which ended goalless despite the Nerazzurri’s attacking ambition. The woodwork also made a difference in both, first keeping out Lukaku in Kyiv before Lautaro struck the crossbar at San Siro. Furthermore, young goalkeeper Trubin proved a formidable foe yesterday, making four decisive saves.
Undoubtedly, Shakhtar focused on defence on Wednesday as they sought to secure a draw and qualify for the Europa League, foregoing the opportunity to progress in the Champions League. This led to Castro opting for a 5-3-2 formation to try to limit the Nerazzurri in attack. Narrow and compact, Shakhtar only really ventured in the opposition half after 40 minutes and then only enjoyed a couple of counter-attacks after the interval.
Inter dominated possession throughout and Barella was a lingering presence in between the lines, with Conte’s men also producing plenty of crosses in the hope of breaking the deadlock. In total, Inter had 13 corners to Shakhtar’s 0 on Wednesday, with 20 shots in total. As regards the four that were on target, Trubin was equal to all of them. The goalkeeper was also saved on two occasions by some desperate defending from the Ukrainian backline, who put bodies on the line to protect their goal at all costs.
On his 100th appearance in Nerazzurri colours, Lautaro was heavily involved: five shots, an effort that had the crossbar rattling and plenty of movement up front. Sanchez and Eriksen, who came on as second-half substitutes, also did their utmost to strike a decisive blow in the closing stages. The Chilean had two headers, the second of which was blocked by Lukaku in hugely unfortunate circumstances. The Dane, meanwhile, twice had a go from distance. These were the final attempts from an Inter side that was propelled forward by a selfless display from Barella, who wasn’t afraid to join in with the attack and provided many promising balls.
However, these efforts weren’t enough to find the net: it finished goalless, with Inter finishing on six points and in fourth place in the group. It’s now time to focus on the league.
INTER 0-0 SHAKHTAR DONETSK
INTER (3-5-2): 1 Handanovic; 37 Skriniar, 6 de Vrij, 95 Bastoni (33 D'Ambrosio 85'); 2 Hakimi (36 Darmian 85'), 23 Barella, 77 Brozovic, 5 Gagliardini (7 Sanchez 75'), 15 Young (14 Perisic 69'); 9 Lukaku, 10 Lautaro (24 Eriksen 85').
Substitutes: 35 Stankovic, 97 Radu, 11 Kolarov, 12 Sensi, 13 Ranocchia.
Coach: Antonio Conte.
SHAKHTAR DONETSK (5-3-2): 81 Trubin; 2 Dodô, 77 Bondar, 6 Stepanenko, 49 Vitão (5 Kocholava 36'), 22 Matvienko; 11 Marlos (21 Alan Patrick 64'), 20 Kovalenko, 27 Maycon; 14 Tetê (19 Solomon 64'), 7 Taison (9 Dentinho 86').
Substitutes: 1 A. Shevchenko, 30 Pyatov, 8 Marcos Antonio, 28 Marquinhos, 50 Bolbat, 59 Vyunnik, 61 Sudakov.
Coach: Luis Castro.
Bookings: Vitão (SD), Gagliardini (I), Hakimi (I), Brozovic (I), Trubin (SD)
Note: Conte and Castro both booked.
Added time: 1' - 7'.
Referee: Slavko Vinčić (SVN)
Assistants: Tomaž Klančnik (SVN), Andraž Kovačič (SVN)
Fourth Official: Rade Obrenovič (SVN)
VAR: Pawel Gil (POL)
VAR Assistant: Jure Praprotnik (SVN)