MILAN – Believing until the very end allowed Inter to come back twice from
deficits against Rubin Kazan and end the Matchday 1 game of the UEFA Europa
League with a 2-2 draw.
It was the umpteenth penalty saved by Handanovic, after a foul by Jonathan in
the box, but it wasn’t enough as Ryazantsev put away the rebound in the 17th
minute. Livaja responded with a goal in minute 39 and came close to adding a
second after halftime. The Russian team was the first to add their second;
Rondon found the net in the 84th minute, but Nagatomo answered eight minutes
FIRST HALF – For the first match of Group H, Stramaccioni rested Milito and went with the attacking pair of Cassano and Livaja up top. Coutinho started just behind the forwards, while Berdyev chose Eremenko behind Rondon.
It was Livaja’s first match as a starter and he didn’t even need two minutes to earn a free kick from a dangerous position; Cassano’s attempt cleared the wall but Ryzhikov’s response was excellent in blocking it. Then Rubin responded with Karadeniz’s cross picking out Rondon, whose header found Handanovic up to the task. On 16 minutes a penalty was awarded to the Russian after a naïve foul from Jonathan. When Natkho stepped up to the spot Handanovic responded by blocking his kick, but he couldn’t hold on to it and Ryazantsev sent the rebound into the top corner with his left. However, the position of the Rubin players at the moment of the kick deserves another look.
Inter regained their momentum and on 36 minutes came very close to equalising when Cambiasso’s cross for Jonathan was temporarily cleared before Cassano put in another one for Livaja, who met the ball with a header that went over the bar. But the goal arrived three minutes later after Cassano’s brilliant pass released Cambiasso who, with a cross from a difficult angle, found the Croatian striker to head inside the far post. However, Rubin showed that there was still life in their team when Ryazantsev hit the post just before halftime. After 1 minute of injury time both teams went to the dressing rooms with the score at 1-1.
SECOND HALF – It was a blistering start to the second half, with Guarin coming on for Jonathan, but Handanovic was ready to step up to the challenge; just five minutes into the half the Nerazzurri keeper perfectly read the play to get the better of Karadeniz’s shot. Minutes later Cassano won the ball and fed it to Livaja, only to see his shot on the turn finish wide. Rondon again looked to put his team ahead, beating Samuel for a header only to see the ball go agonisingly wide. But three minutes later the Venezuelan found the target when he latched on to Eremenko’s long pass and held off Ranocchia before slotting the ball past Handanovic to make it 1-2.
It all seemed over, but Nagatomo had other ideas; three minutes into injury time Cambiasso dummied Milito’s cross, allowing the Japanese full-back to sweetly strike the ball past the Rubin keeper and end the match at 2-2. It was another comeback for Inter, who believed until the very end in this Europe League challenge. After 3 minutes of added time Aytekin ended the match. The other Group H match ended as a goalless draw between Partizan and Neftci, the Nerazzurri’s next opponent on 4 October.
Inter 2-2 Rubin Kazan (HT: 1-1)
Scorers: Ryazantsev 17, Livaja 39, Rondon 84, Nagatomo 90+3.
Inter: 1 Handanovic; 42 Jonathan (Guarin 46), 23 Ranocchia, 25 Samuel, 55 Nagatomo; 19 Cambiasso, 4 Zanetti, 21 Gargano; 7 Coutinho; 99 Cassano (Pereira 67), 88 Livaja (Milito 61).
Unused subs: 27 Belec, 6 Silvestre, 10 Sneijder, 40 Juan Jesus.
Coach: Andrea Stramaccioni.
Rubin Kazan: 1 Ryzhikov; 76 Sharonov, 4 Cesar Navas, 2 Kuzmin, 25 Marcano; 27 Bocchetti (Kaleshin 81), 66 Natkho, 8 Ryazantsev (Orbaiz 70), 61 Karadeniz; 23 R. Eremenko; 99 Rondon.
Unused subs: 88 Haghihi, 55 Tore, 22 Dyadyun, 10 Kasaev, 19 Kaleshin.
Coach: Kurban Berdyev.
Referee: Deniz Aytekin (GER).
Assistants: Lupp, Walk (GER).
Additional assistants: Fritz, Hartmann (GER).
Fourth official: Henschel (GER).
Booked: Bocchetti 80, Marcano 74, Orbaiz 76, Guarin 44.
Added time: 1+3 minutes.