Inter Milan will face Sevilla in the Europa League final as doubles from Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku helped dispatch Shakhtar Donetsk 5-0 in Dusseldorf.
Five-time winners Sevilla came from behind to beat Manchester United on Sunday, and Antonio Conte’s side joined them in the final with a rampant victory – Martinez and Lukaku the stars.
Martinez’s first Europa League goal of the season got Inter off the mark, and he had his second with 16 minutes left after Danilo D’Ambrosio had doubled the Nerazzurri’s lead.
Inter were not done there, though, with Martinez brilliantly teeing up Lukaku, who subsequently helped himself to a second with a terrific turn, run and finish late on as the Serie A runners up made it into their first European final since 2010.
Martinez’s opener came after 19 minutes – Andriy Pyatov slicing a clearance straight to Nicolo Barella, who delivered a pinpoint cross from which Inter’s forward headed home.
It should have been 2-0 before the half-hour, but neither Lukaku or Barella were able to tuck in from point-blank range.
Barella would have made up for the miss soon after, had Pyatov not kept out the midfielder’s dipping effort.
Martinez nearly caught Pyatov off his line early in the second half, with the goalkeeper just managing to recover, before Lukaku sent a low effort wide.
Junior Moraes should have done better with a header he directed straight at Samir Handanovic just after the hour and Inter swiftly made their fortune count.
Afforded a free run from Marcelo Brozovic’s corner, D’Ambrosio leapt highest to plant a firm header beyond Pyatov, who was beaten again when Martinez slotted in his second 10 minutes later.
Martinez then turned provider to cap off a supreme display – Lukaku coolly curling home from inside the area.
Lukaku had his 16th Europa League goal in 10 appearances soon after, adding further gloss to a win that takes Inter to the verge of winning their first trophy since 2011.
What does it mean? Inter back where they belong
It has been far too long since a club of Inter’s stature made a European final – indeed, they won the last one they were involved in a decade ago.
Now, Conte and his side have the chance to put that right, though they have Europa League specialists Sevilla in their path.
Martinez steps out of Lukaku’s shadow
It has been a fantastic season for Martinez, but since the resumption of the season it has been his strike partner Lukaku who has taken the limelight.
But, coming into form just in time for the final, Martinez went from supporting act to main man with two fantastic goals and a superb assist for Lukaku, who of course still got himself on the scoresheet.
Pyatov error gifts Inter
Inter had not really managed a meaningful attack prior to Pyatov’s mistake, but Barella and Martinez made sure to make Shakhtar’s goalkeeper pay as his dreadful pass ultimately cost the Ukrainian side, and it got no better as he went on to pick the ball out of his net on a further four occasions.
Key Opta Facts
Inter’s 5-0 win was the biggest margin of victory ever in a single UEFA Cup/Europa League semi-final game.
Inter have won five consecutive matches in major European competition (excluding qualifiers) for the first time since April 2010 (a run of six starting in December 2009 on their way to the UEFA Champions League final).
D’Ambrosio has scored three goals in his last five games for Inter Milan in all competitions, as many as he had netted in his previous 58 appearances.
Lukaku is the first player in UEFA Cup/Europa League history to score in 10 consecutive matches via a run stretching back to November 2014 with Everton.
Sevilla await Inter on Friday in Cologne in what promises to be a closely fought final, though with Martinez and Lukaku in such form, the Serie A club should be considered favourites.
Source: Stats Perform