In a “David vs. Goliath” match, Inter suffers a defeat but narrowly escapes from Hadjuk to advance to the Europa qualification play-off.
Coming off a 3-0 victory, Inter made three changes to the squad that defeated Hadjuk in Croatia. Philippe Coutinho, Andrea Ranocchia both starting ahead of Rodrigo Palacio and Matias Silvestre with 17 year old Ibrahima Mbaye making his debut for Inter at Left-back, ahead of Yuto Nagatomo. Hadjuk made two changes to the squad from the first leg, having Filip Ozobić, and Mijo Caktaš dropped to the bench in favor of Antonio Milić and Ivan Vuković.
Inter defeated Hadjuk Split by a very comfortable margin and dominated every aspect of the game in the first match, giving fans the reassurance that the club was moving forward. Making several changes to the lineup to give other players opportunities, Inter seemed calmed. However, that calm feeling was quickly replaced with a lethargic attitude that gave Hadjuk the most powerful emotion of all: hope.
Hadjuk entered the game with a “nothing to lose” attitude, that allowed them to go all out. How often does a low level professional club play in San Siro at the Giuseppe Meazza, to play a football giant? Leave it all out on the field, and Hadjuk certainly did. Early on, sloppy defending and passing set the tone for Intern’s performance that fueled Hadjuk’s hope.
Ivan Vukušić had an early attempt on goal in the second minute that just missed. Minutes later Milito knocks heads with Hadjuk defender Maloča after both went up in the air for a ball, both received medical treatment. Maloča would be replaced shortly by Jonjič. Milito received a bandage encompassing his entire head and continues on with the match. In the sixth minute, Walter Samuel, performed a dangerous slide tackle that earned the match’s first yellow card. In the eleventh minute, Ivan Vuković gives Inter a warning shot where the save services of Samir Handanovič were required. The first 12 minutes of the match were fueled by Inter’s sloppiness and Hadjuk’s fighting spirit, however, Inter soon settled down. Wesley Sneijder used Mbaye’s speed on the flank to constantly put pressure on Hadjuk with clever give-and-go, where Blažević pushes a dangerous cross away. Javier Zanetti, the ageless wonder, made daring runs down the right flank to constantly put pressure on Hadjuk’s defense. Zanetti’s run’s earned Inter’s first corners of the match and also an attempt on goal by Countinho that hit the post.
Ivan Vukušić attempt on goal sails into the crowd in the 20th minute. One minute later Esteban Cambiasso gives away a free-kick to Milic. Hadjuk’s pressure earned a penalty kick. After a clumsy challenge by Samuel in the 22nd minute, Ante Vukušić converts the penalty giving Hadjuk Split a 1-0 lead. Minutes later Milic has another effort on goal that requires Handonovic to make a save. However, for the remainder of the first half, Inter maintained constant pressure. Freddy Guarin earned a free-kick on top of the key in the 28th minute followed by a powerful strike from distance that was saved by Blažević. In the closing minutes, Coutinho had several attempts; one sailed over the cross-bar and another straight at Blažević.
Milito finished the half with an attempt on goal that was pushed right. From the start of the second half, Inter and Hadjuk traded shots, each penetrating behind the defense resulting in proper saves from Handanovič and Blažević. Radošević of Hadjuk was shown the games second yellow, after a foul on Guarin. Nagatomo then enters the match replacing Mbaye at Left-back. Inter kept up pressure until a lapse in defensive awareness allowed Hadjuk their second goal. In the 58th minute. Ivan Vukušić reveries a pass from out wide, and with a cheeky flick, puts the ball on a platter and on a volley sends the ball to the back of net.
Ivan Vukušić, full of exuberance, receives a yellow card for taking off his shirt. A minute later Andrijašević is replaced by Caktas. After a miss from Jonathan, Samuele Longo comes on for Countinho. From there, Inter maintained constant pressure with shots coming from Sneijder, Guarin, and Nagatomo.
Hadjuk’s Blažević made crucial saves in the 75th and 81st minutes to keep Hadjuk on top of Inter. In the 83rd minute Luštica came on for Ivan Vuković. One minute later, Silvestre came on for Sneijder, in order to protect the one goal lead on aggregate. The game would finish with Hadjuk winning 2-0, but losing the series on aggregate 3-2.
It was a terrible performance by Inter and a good performance from Hadjuk Split. Inter lacked concentration, finishing, and poise. Hadjuk punched well above their weight. The quality that Inter possess should always dominate most clubs in Europe.
Inter need to learn from their lessons. Andrea Stramaccioni needs to take into account that this type of performance is not out of the realm of possibility for Inter.
Man of the match: Goran Blažević (Hadjuk Split) – He constantly kept his club in the match by making quality saves throughout the match. Some goalkeepers vanish on the large stage, but Blažević stepped up his performance and gave his club the opportunity to win, and that’s what you need from a goalkeeper.
Internazionale ( 4-3-1-2)- Handanovic; Mbaye, Samuel, Ranocchia, Jonathan, Guarin, Cambiasso, Zanetti, Sneijder, Milito, Coutinho
Hadjuk Split ( 4-4-2)- Blažević; Milić, Milović, Vršajević, Andrijašević, Oremuš, Ante Vukušić,
Radošević, Jozinović, Maloča, Ivan Vuković,