VIENNA – Mission accomplished. Inter beat Rapid Vienna 1-0 in their first-leg clash at the Round of 32 stage of the Europa League, a positive result to take home ahead of the second leg in Milan on 21 February. As was the case against Parma, Lautaro Martinez scored the decisive goal: his penalty at the end of the first half proved to be the only goal of the game.
Prior to the match kicking off, there was a minute’s silence to commemorate the late Emiliano Sala. When the action got going, Inter threatened as early as the second minute, but Politano fired just wide following good play by Cedric. In the 14th minute, Vecino found Lautaro deep in Rapid Vienna’s half, but El Toro slipped at the vital moment and couldn’t get a shot away under pressure from the outrushing Strebinger. Moments later, Perisic tried his luck from a free kick at the edge of the area, but the ball went over the bar. The Nerazzurri were controlling things midway through the first half but were also struggling to create any real chances. In the 33rd minute, play was momentarily stopped as an aerial duel between De Vrij and Sonnleiter left the latter lying on the floor. After 38 minutes, Inter were awarded a penalty after Lautaro was brought down by Thurnwald in the box. The same player stepped up and calmly converted to make it 1-0 to the Nerazzurri. Spalletti’s men continued to press and nearly doubled their lead shortly before half-time, but the Austrian side’s goalkeeper managed to keep out Lautaro’s acrobatic effort following Cedric’s corner.
The teams returned unchanged for the second half. In the 59th minute, Politano hit a powerful left-foot strike following some confusion in the box but Potzmann closed him down enough to block at the expense of a corner. Not long later, Politano crossed from the left for Vecino who get there first but he couldn’t keep his header down. After an hour of play, Rapid caused problems for the first time. In the 62nd minute, Ivan fired some way wide while in the 65th minute, Handanovic made a great stop to deny the substitute Knasmullner from close range. Inter were on the attack again in the 74th minute when Perisic burst down the left before squaring it for Nainggolan who couldn’t keep his first-time effort on target. At the end, Spalletti brought Candreva and then D’Ambrosio on for Politano and Nainggolan with the Nerazzurri managing the lead in the final minutes. The match between Rapid Vienna and Inter therefore finished 0-1 thanks to Lautaro Martinez’s penalty.
Focus turns straight back to the league with Sampdoria visiting San Siro at 18:00 CET on Sunday. The Austrians will then head to Milan in a week and tickets are on sale here.
RAPID VIENNA 0-1 INTER
Goals: 39' pen. Lautaro (I)
RAPID VIENNA: 1 Strebinger; 19 Potzmann, 6 Sonnleitner, 20 Hofmann, 5 Bolingoli; 14 Grahovac (64' 28 Knasmullner), 39 Ljubicic; 23 Thurnwald (53' 7 Schobesberger), 8 Schwab, 97 Ivan; 9 Berisha (82' 10 Murg)
Substitutes: 21 Knoflach, 3 Muldur, 15 Martic, 24 Auer
Coach: Dietmar Kuhbauer
Coach: Luciano Spalletti
Stoppage Time: 3' + 4'
Referee: Tobias Stieler
Assistant Referees: Mike Pickel, Christian Gittelmann
Additional Assistant Referees: Tobias Welz, Christian Dingert
Fourth Official: Mark Borsch