MILAN – Inter are through to the UEFA Europa League group stage following a 2-2 draw. They managed it in front of their own fans and did it the hard way, playing for much of the game with 10 men.
In the first half Vaslui led through Stanciu’s penalty, Castellazzi seeing red for the challenge. Palacio levelled things in the second half on 76 minutes but three minutes later the Romanian side were back in front. Guarin however had the crowd on their feet at the end, scoring a marvellous solo effort to send Inter into the group stage.
FIRST HALF – Stramaccioni picked Silvestre and Samuel as his centre-back pairing in front of Castellazzi with Jonathan and Juan Jesus playing on the flanks. Zanetti, Cambiasso and Nagatomo made up the midfield three, while Cassano and Coutinho supported Palacio in attack.
Following the warm-up before kick-off Julio Cesar bid an emotional farewell to Inter and their fans. The keeper came out onto the pitch with his two children and received a standing ovation from the entire crowd. He will always have a place in everyone’s hearts. Julio Cesar is well aware of it and he will never forget his time at the club. He had tears streaming down his face while his team-mates hugged him one by one and the crowd sang his name. Next he had a team photo and a letter for the fans and former team-mates, while he thanked president Moratti for the opportunity to say goodbye and for the 7 marvellous years he spent with the Nerazzurri. Thank you Julio!
Now for the game and it was time to take on Vaslui. Inter’s defence were right on song from the start as they thwarted a Romanian attack. The Nerazzurri nearly took the lead on 13 minutes: Cassano’s free kick found the head of Samuel but his effort came back off the crossbar. Vaslui were not to be discouraged though and used their pace down the flanks to try and cause problems for the home side. It was a rather even contest with both sides looking to exploit set-pieces but without success. Inter went close again just after the half-hour mark. Cassano threaded it through to Coutinho who shot across goal with his left but Straton put it out for a corner. Two minutes later, on 33 minutes, Castellazzi brought down Antal in the box. Penalty to the visitors and Inter down to ten men following the keeper’s dismissal. Stanciu sent Belec the wrong with the resulting spot-kick, the latter having come on to replace Cassano. Vaslui led on the night and Inter began to struggle. After one minute of added time the first half came to an end with the score Inter 0-1 Vaslui.
SECOND HALF – Inter made a change for the second period with Guarin replacing Samuel. The Nerazzurri were quicker to the ball and stronger in the challenge despite being down to 10 men. The hosts tried to press the ball high up the pitch. Guarin went close with a free kick on 66 minutes, faking to shoot before arrowing the ball in towards the near post. Straton got down well to make the save. In the 70th minute Zanetti had the crowd on their feet, finding Palacio, but his effort at the near post was deflected out for a corner. Inter appeared to have greater focus.
Celeban gave the hosts a scare though a quarter of an hour from time, but shot high following a defensive mix-up. A minute later Inter launched a counter attack. Coutinho broke forward covering 50 yards before playing it through for Palacio with the outside of his boot. The Argentine found the back of the net with his left. Vaslui were back in front on 79 minutes though. Inter failed to defend a corner and Varela was able to head home easily. With 6 minutes remaining Palacio brought out the best in Straton. Belec also did well to deny N’Doye in stoppage time.
A few moments later and the Nerazzurri had the equaliser, Guarin pinching the ball in midfield before beating two defenders and rifling a right-footed shot under the goalkeeper. A wonderful goal from a real fighter. Following 3 minutes of added time it finished Inter 2-2 Vaslui, and the Nerazzurri are through to the Europa League group stages.
Inter 2-2 FC Vaslui (HT: 0-1)
Scorers: Stanciu 35, Palacio 76, Varela 79, Guarin 90+3.
Inter: 12 Castellazzi; 42 Jonathan (Ranocchia 82), 6 Silvestre, 25 Samuel (Guarin 46), 40 Juan Jesus; 4 Zanetti, 19 Cambiasso, 55 Nagatomo; 99 Cassano (Belec 34), 7 Coutinho; 8 Palacio.
Unused subs: 10 Sneijder, 22 Milito, 24 Benassi, 88 Livaja.
Coach: Andrea Stramaccioni.
Vaslui: 89 Straton; 3 Varela, 5 Celeban, 8 Antal, 9 Sburlea, 10 Stanciu (Buhaescu 79), 16 Caue (Sanmartean 58), 23 Salageanu, 25 Tukura, 67 Cordos, 79 N’Doye.
Unused subs: 1 Coman, 20 Milanov, 30 Costin, 33 Charalombous, 40 Varga.
Coach: Marius Sumudica.
Referee: Manuel De Sousa (POR).
Booked: Cordos 67, Guarin 81, Sanmartean 83, Coutinho 83, Antal 88.
Sent off: Castellazzi 33.
Added time: 1+3 minutes.