Inter battle to 2-1 success over Dnipro

MILAN – Roberto Mancini named a largely unchanged line-up from the side that started Sunday’s derby as Inter went looking for the point needed to guarantee their place in the knockout stage. Osvaldo came in for Rodrigo Palacio up front while Medel and Hernanes replaced Obi and Kovacic in midfield.

The Nerazzurri started on the back foot though, with Rotan and Konoplyanka proving to be more than a handful in the final third. It was the former who fired the visitors into a 4th-minute lead after Handanovic had parried Konoplyanka’s blast.

Inter were slow to react and offered little in terms of attacking threat in the opening period. So when Dnipro were awarded a penalty midway through the half, Mancini’s men were faced with the prospect of having to recover from a two-goal deficit.

Thankfully Handanovic was the man between the sticks and the Nerazzurri keeper further bolstered his reputation as a spot-kick wizard by saving his sixth penalty in a row, on the day he celebrated his 100th appearance for the club.

As so often happens in football, a missed opportunity comes back to haunt you and that was the case for Dnipro. Just a few minutes passed before Kuzmanovic restored parity as he collected a half-cleared ball on the edge of the box and calmly slotted into the corner. It was the Serbian midfielder’s first goal in black and blue.

The second half was barely seconds old when Ranocchia was shown a second yellow card for a challenge on Kalinic. The Nerazzurri were thus forced to reorganise their ranks and yet, rather counter-intuitively, the dismissal seemed to bring more order to Inter’s play.

Confirmation of that came minutes later when Dodo broke at pace and found Hernanes, who slipped in Osvaldo with an exquisite through ball. The Argentine striker made no mistake with his angled finish and for the first time in the game Inter had the lead.

Handanovic came to the rescue with another top-drawer intervention after Campagnaro was caught in possession and Dnipro cranked up the pressure as they chased an equaliser but the Nerazzurri held on to confirm their status as Group F winners.

The final group game is due to take place in Baku in two weeks’ time. By then Inter’s thoughts will already be on the draw for the round of 32.

Inter 2-1 Dnipro (HT 1-1)
Scorers: Rotan 16, Kuzmanovic 30, Osvaldo 50.

Inter: 1 Handanovic; 55 Nagatomo (14 Campagnaro 35), 23 Ranocchia, 5 Juan Jesus, 22 Dodo; 13 Guarin, 17 Kuzmanovic, 18 Medel, 88 Hernanes (20 Obi) 61; 7 Osvaldo, 9 Icardi (6 Andreolli 56).
Subs not used: 30 Carrizo, 8 Palacio, 44 Krhin, 97 Bonazzoli.
Coach: Roberto Mancini.

Dnipro: 71 Boyko; 44 Fedetskiy (99 Matheus 70), 23 Douglas, 3 Mazuch (11 Seleznyov 82), 2 Vlad; 4 Kravchenko (20 Bruno Gama 73), 14 Cheberyachko; 24 Luchkevych, 29 Rotan, 10 Konoplyanka; 9 Kalinic.
Subs not used: 16 Lastuvka, 12 Leo Matos, 28 Shakhov, 89 Politylo.
Coach: Myron Markevych.

Referee: Bobby Madden (SCO).
Booked: Ranocchia 22, 47, Hernanes 31, Guarin 66.
Sent off: Ranocchia 47.
Added time: 1+4 minutes.