A magnificent Inter performance Monday night saw them thrash Shakhtar Donetsk 5-0 and reach the Europa League Final, with Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku braces.
The winners go on to face Sevilla in the Final on Friday, as the Spaniards knocked Manchester United out last night.
Both sides came into this competition via the Champions League group stage and were in good form, the Nerazzurri unbeaten in 10 and the Ukrainians in 11. Alexis Sanchez made a rapid recovery for a spot on the bench, but Matias Vecino was out, while Shakhtar had Davit Khocholava back from suspension.
Inter broke through with practically the first chance of the game after a cagey start. Nicolò Barella’s pressing saw him intercept a loose ball, burst down the right and whip in a cross for the glancing Lautaro Martinez header, his first goal in the Europa League this season. The Argentine did well to get in front of Serhiy Kryvtsov.
There were three Inter players flinging themselves at a cross from the left and still couldn’t get it in the net, although at least one was eventually offside.
Stefan de Vrij made a decisive block after Dodo controlled a cross-field pass to roll across for Junior Moraes, but Inter’s high press was paying dividends, the seemingly ever-present Barella stinging Andriy Pyatov’s gloves from a tricky angle.
When Shakhtar did manage to put together a long string of passes towards half-time, it was concluded by Marcos Antonio firing just over from the D.
Lautaro Martinez almost doubled his tally after the restart, catching defenders in possession and immediately unleashing a lob, but Pyatov at full stretch managed to claw it out of the empty net.
Romelu Lukaku curled just wide of the far post, but Shakhtar had their first real chance on 62 minutes when Junior Moraes aimed a header straight at Samir Handanovic, who made an instinctive save from close range.
However, Inter doubled their lead moments later, as a Marcelo Brozovic corner found Danilo D’Ambrosio from six yards, barely even jumping, as he just steered the header back across into the far top corner.
Lukaku wasted a promising opportunity, but it was only a warning for Inter’s third goal. It was Brozovic who won back the ball with the high press this time, Lukaku and Roberto Gagliardini combining to set up Lautaro for a lovely curled finish low into the far bottom corner from the edge of the area.
The Argentine could’ve gone for a hat-trick after skipping past three defenders, but instead he placed a wonderful disguised pass through for Lukaku, who fired in the angled drive with his left foot for 4-0. It was another record, his 10th consecutive Europa League game on target.
The Belgian wasn’t done yet, as he gathered from Stefan de Vrij in midfield, sprinted past Khocholava and nutmegged the goalkeeper for 5-0 and his personal brace.
Substitute Sebastiano Esposito threatened a sixth, but was caught offside and hit the side-netting anyway.