Inter 2-1 Leverkusen: Lukaku sends Nerazzurri through

Romelu Lukaku struck for a record ninth straight UEFA Europa League game to help Inter into the last four.

Highlights: Internazionale 2-1 Leverkusen
Highlights: Internazionale 2-1 Leverkusen

Romelu Lukaku set a new competition record by scoring in a ninth consecutive game as Inter reached the semi-finals.

Inter vs Leverkusen: as it happened


Match in brief

Nicolò Barella is delighted after making the breakthrough
Nicolò Barella is delighted after making the breakthroughPOOL/AFP via Getty Images

Lukaku's landmark effort was the second of three goals in a frantic ten-minute spell in the first half. Nicolò Barella fired Antonio Conte's side in front before Lukaku somehow made it two despite being dragged down as he attempted to shoot. However, Leverkusen responded through their own talisman as Kai Havertz exchanged passes with Kevin Volland before driving in.

Samir Handanovič had to parry from Kerem Demirbay as Peter Bosz's men pushed for an equaliser after half-time but Inter looked the more dangerous on the counterattack. Lukas Hradecky denied substitutes Alexis Sánchez and Victor Moses but Inter had done enough to secure their first European semi-final since winning the UEFA Champions League in 2010.

Paolo Menicucci, Inter reporter

Inter reached the semi-finals after another convincing performance. The only problem for the Nerazzurri was scoring the third and killing the game despite creating several opportunities to do so. Conte will make sure his players understand that such profligacy can be very costly at this level. Lukaku, however, continues to be unstoppable and the rest of the team continue to grow behind him.

James Thorogood, Leverkusen reporter

Kai Havertz pulls a goal back for Leverkusen
Kai Havertz pulls a goal back for LeverkusenPOOL/AFP via Getty Images

Leverkusen's European season ends the same way their domestic campaign did, in disappointment. Sporting director Rudi Völler's comments on Lukaku and falling behind to Inter proved to be pre-match premonitions for his relatively inexperienced side. Tonight's result is a reflection of the learning curve they are on under Bosz. They may return to UEFA Europa League action next season, without Havertz in all likelihood, but they will have this valuable experience to help guide their progress.

Reaction

Romelu Lukaku, Inter striker: "Records are records but victories are more important. Leverkusen are a strong side with a very good coach. It was not easy. The defence did a tremendous job tonight again. We are growing but we have to learn to kill games when we have the chances to do it and tonight we didn't."

Key stats

  • Lukaku has scored 12 times in his last nine UEFA Europa League games, including eight in his last five appearances for Everton in 2014/15.
  • Lukaku has also scored in each of Inter's last six European matches.
  • Inter have scored at least two goals in six of their last seven European matches.
  • Leverkusen had only shipped one first-half goal in their last nine UEFA Europa League matches before this game – they conceded twice in six minutes here.
  • Leverkusen have scored in 26 of their last 27 matches.

Line-ups

Lukaku: 'Inter are growing through the competition"
Lukaku: 'Inter are growing through the competition"

Inter: Handanovič; Godín, De Vrij, Bastoni (Škriniar 84); D'Ambrosio (Moses 59), Barella, Brozović, Gagliardini (Eriksen 59), Young; Martínez (Sánchez 64), Lukaku

Leverkusen: Hradecky; L Bender (Alario 86), Tah, Tapsoba, Sinkgraven (Wendell 68); Palacios (Bailey 59), Baumgartlinger (Amiri 68); Havertz, Demirbay, Diaby; Volland (Bellarabi 86)

What's next

Inter will face Shakhtar in the semi-finals on Monday 17 August in Dusseldorf, with the final in Cologne four days later.