MILAN – It won’t go down as one of Inter’s best starts to a season
at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, but in spite of their 0-2 home defeat to Hajduk
Split, they still did what they set out to do. Vukusic (23 minutes) and Vukovic
(58 minutes) scored the goals that gave the Croats the spoils but the
Nerazzurri’s 3-0 victory from the first leg ensured they won their third
qualifying round tie and sees them into the draw for the 2012/13 Europa League
FIRST HALF – Stramaccioni picked Milito as a lone frontman
ahead of Guarin, Sneijder and Coutinho, as Inter wore their home kit of black
and blue shirts.
In the sixth minute Milito came off worse in a clash of
heads with Maloca as the pair challenged for the ball, causing the Argentine to
wear a bandage around his head for the rest of the contest. Inter came to life
after that, with Zanetti consistently beating his man on the right flank. On
the first such occasion, the captain had the San Siro faithful on their feet as
he got to the by-line before crossing, but Inter only managed to win a corner
(15 minutes). The second was a low cross towards Coutinho but the away
goalkeeper beat him to the ball before the young Brazilian spurned the rebound,
only firing against the crossbar (16 minutes).
After 22 minutes Walter Samuel fouled Vukovic in the box and
the referee awarded Hajduk a penalty. Vukusic sent Handanovic the wrong way to give
the visitors the lead, 1-0. Milic very nearly doubled the lead 3 minutes later, as
he toe-poked towards goal but Handanovic was out smartly to deny him. Coutinho
was next to go close, as he latched onto Sneijder’s first-time pass, the
Brazilian exploiting a hole in the Croatian defence, but his shot went narrowly
wide. Guarin earned a free-kick in a dangerous position after being fouled by Andrijasevic
on the half-hour mark. Sneijder, however, hammered the resulting set-piece against
the wall. The pair combined again in the 36th minute when the
Dutchman put the Colombian through on goal. Guarin hit a powerful shot with his
right from distance but Blazevic was equal to it. The Nerazzurri then proceeded
to bombard the opposition goal as the first half drew to a close, with Coutinho
trying his luck three times and Milito also going for goal. The ball just
wouldn’t go in though, and the score at the interval wasn’t really a true
reflection of the first 45 minutes.
SECOND HALF – The second half began with the sides unchanged
from the first period. Vukusic went close for Hajduk after 50 minutes but
Handanovic was able to keep the ball out with his body. The Slovenian keeper
could do nothing on 58 minutes, however. Vukovic received the ball from the
right, took it down beautifully and then hammered the ball with his laces into
the top corner, and the Croats led 2-0 on the night.
Jonathan earned a corner
and Ranocchia nearly profited on 69 minutes, but his powerful header was
cleared off the line. Blazevic was twice called into action in as many minutes
with a quarter of an hour to play, first to deny Nagatomo, then Sneijder.
Vukusic very nearly levelled the tie following excellent play from Jozinovic
but his shot just went wide. Longo went even closer, as he so nearly scored for
the Nerazzurri after combining with Guarin 10 minutes from time. Referee Turpin
blew the final whistle following 3 minutes of added time. The Nerazzurri win
the tie despite losing the game. Inter will learn their fate in tomorrow’s draw
in Nyon, Switzerland.
Inter 0-2 Hajduk Split (HT: 0-1)
Scorers: Vukusic 23, Vukovic 58.
Inter: 1 Handanovic; 4 Zanetti,
7 Coutinho (Longo 63), 10 Sneijder (Silvestre 84), 14 Guarin, 19 Cambiasso,
22 Milito, 23 Ranocchia, 25 Samuel, 33 Mbaye (Nagatomo 55), 42 Jonathan.
Subs not used: 27 Belec, 16
Mudingayi, 24 Benassi, 88 Livaja.
Coach: Andrea Stramaccioni.
Hajduk Split: 1 Blazevic; 4
Milic, 5 Milovic, 6 Vrsajevic, 7 Andrijasevic (Caktas 59), 11 Oremus, 13
Vukusic, 14 Radosevic, 17 Jozinovic, 22 Maloca (Jonjic 55), 24 Vukovic (Lustica 83).
Subs not used: 19 Vugdelija, 3
Stojanovic, 9 Maglica, 20 Ozobic.
Coach: Miso Krsticevic.
Referee: Clement Turpin (Fra).
Assistants: Gringore and Danos (Fra).
Fourth Official: Varela (Fra).
Bookings: Samuel 6, Radosevic 55, Vukovic 58, Vrsajevic 62.
Added time: 2+3 minutes.