Edin Dzeko was at the double as Inter Milan swatted aside Viktoria Plzen to secure qualification for the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League
Italian giants Inter Milan have secured qualification for the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League courtesy of a 4-0 win over Viktoria Plzen at the Giuseppe Meazza on Wednesday.
The win coupled with Barcelona’s loss to Bayern Munich guaranteed the Italian side’s progress to the knockouts. Given the group and their patchy form earlier in the campaign, Simone Inzaghi and co deserve credit for turning their fortunes around.
Last weekend’s hero against Fiorentina, Henrikh Mkhitaryan opened the scoring in the 35th minute before Edin Dzeko made it 2-0 before half-time. The Bosnian got his second of the night after the hour mark, putting clear daylight between the home side and their Czech visitors.
Substitute Romelu Lukaku marked his return to action with a late fourth goal. This augurs well for Inter going forward. With qualification guaranteed, they can now afford to rest players for the Matchday 6 clash against Bayern Munich. The Hard Tackle looks at how the Inter Milan players fared on the night.
— OptaPaolo 🏆 (@OptaPaolo) October 26, 2022
Andre Onana: 6/10
It was a much-needed clean sheet for the Cameroonian, who had a night to forget at the weekend against Fiorentina. Onana did not have much to do but stepped up when needed and was a reliable last line of defence.
Milan Skriniar: 7/10
The Inter Milan skipper was a dominant presence at the heart of the defence and organised his rearguard well. Skriniar was not troubled much, but to his credit, he did not let his guard down.
Francesco Acerbi: 7/10
The veteran started in the middle of the back three and looked far more comfortable with his flanks secured. Having been caught out repeatedly against Fiorentina, Acerbi showed on the night why he is best off deployed in the middle of the defence.
Alessandro Bastoni: 8/10
The Italian was sensational on the night and dominated the left flank. He linked up well with Federico Dimarco and got forward whenever necessary. Bastoni was always available for the ball and made several crosses that caused chaos in the Viktoria Plzen box. It was one of Bastoni’s best performances in a while. He was also defensively solid and did not cede an inch.
Alessandro Bastoni (23) 🇮🇹 versus Victoria Plzen
94% pass accuracy 🎯
3 crosses 🪄
5 long balls ✈️
3/3 tackles won (most) 🧱
6 recoveries 💪
— Serie A Scout ⭐️🇮🇹 (@SerieAScout_) October 26, 2022
Denzel Dumfries: 6/10
The Dutchman had a mixed night out and never really got into his groove. Dumfries lacked that final touch going forward, and while he may have had the best intentions, did not look sure of what he was supposed to do.
Nicolo Barella: 7/10
The UEFA Euro 2020 hero continued his fine run of form and was a dominant presence in the Inter midfield. His ability to perform week-in and week-out is great news for Inter ahead of a busy schedule of games. Barella made several good runs and also provided a peach of a cross for his side’s second goal of the game.
Halan Calhanoglu: 7.5/10
With Marcelo Brozovic out injured, Hakan Calhanoglu started at the base of the midfield and continued to dictate the pace of the game with his technical ability and game awareness. His ability to drop deep and recycle the ball has coincided with an upturn in the team’s fortunes.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan: 7.5/10
The Armenian playmaker appeared buoyed by his winner against Fiorentina and carried the momentum into the game. Mkhitaryan made good runs all game and often moved into space wherever possible. His header gave Inter the lead on the night and also hit the bar in the second half.
Federico Dimarco: 7/10
Dimarco was solid in both attack and defence, linking up well with Bastoni on the left flank. The Italian international earned himself an assist for Inter’s second after taking down a brilliant cross by Barella. It was overall, a good night for the Italian star.
Lautaro Martinez: 6.5/10
The Argentine failed to find the back of the net but did everything else that was needed of him. Martinez made good runs and linked up well with Dzeko. He also caused trouble for Viktoria Plzen with his movement, opening up space for other Inter stars to run into.
Edin Dzeko: 8/10
The Bosnian legend rolled back the years with two well-taken goals on the night. His ability to make a difference when needed is a massive trait that has come clutch for Inter several times. With Romelu Lukaku also back, Inzaghi can choose to use Dzeko effectively and afford to keep him fresh for key situations.
7/27 – 7 of Edin #Dzeko total 27 goals in Champions League have been scored v Viktoria Plzen (26%). He netted in each of his 5 matches against them (7 goals), at least 4 more than against any other side. Predator.#InterViktoria #UCL pic.twitter.com/NwXwtTMIhY
— OptaPaolo 🏆 (@OptaPaolo) October 26, 2022
Joaquin Correa: 6/10
Correa replaced Dzeko in the 71st minute but failed to take advantage of several opportunities to score. It was another poor outing for the former Lazio man.
Kristjan Asllani: 6/10
Asllani came on for Calhanoglu in the 71st minute, adding fresh legs to the Inter midfield.
Robin Gosens: N/A
Gosens replaced Dimarco in the 77th minute but had little to do with the game settled.
Roberto Gagliardini: N/A
Gagliardini replaced Mkhitaryan in the 83rd minute as Inter rang in the changes.
Romelu Lukaku: 7/10
Romelu Lukaku only needed four minutes to come on and score for Inter 👀 pic.twitter.com/llPlKJkeAA
— GOAL (@goal) October 26, 2022
The Belgian striker had little time on the field but marked his return with a well-taken goal. Lukaku could also have had an assist if Correa was a bit more clinical. A very brief but eventful encounter for the Belgian ace.