Two canceled penalties and Inter's first European semi-final in ten years
In the main match of the game day of the Europa League, Inter and Bayer have met. Both teams started out in the current UEFA Champions League UEFA Champions League but failed to make it to the playoffs, finishing third in their groups. In the Champions League, Leverkusen even crossed paths with Lokomotiv. On the road, the railroad workers won (2: 1), while at home they were defeated (0: 2).
But in LE "Inter" with "Bayer" proved to be a truly formidable force. “Nerazzurri” knocked out “Ludogorets” (2: 0, 2: 1), and then beat Getafe - 2: 0 in a one-match confrontation. In turn, Leverkusen were stronger than Porto (2: 1, 3: 1) and Rangers (3: 1, 1: 0) and won four matches in the LE.
At the same time, in the second most important European Cup "Inter" with "Bayer" did not achieve serious success for a long time. The Milanese have won the UEFA Cup three times, but in the LE until the current draw, they did not go further than the 1/8 finals. The same can be said for the Leverkusen athletes, who made their way to the quarterfinals of this championship for the first time in 12 years.
In the reported confrontation, the Italian team was considered the favorite, which gained excellent shape in the summer and won four victories in a row in all tournaments, without missing a single goal in these meetings.
In addition, Antonio Conte's wards are in great shape while their rival, after the end of the Bundesliga at the end of June, was left without official matches for more than a month. In addition, Peter Bosch, due to the disqualification, could not count on the key midfielder Charles Arangis.
And "Inter" confirmed the status of the favorite already in the 15th minute. Bayer started the game more actively, but the opponent converted the first moment. One of the main characters in this attack was the Italian team's forward Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian in the penalty area pushed the defender, but he blocked his blow at the last moment. However, the ball bounced directly to Nicolo Barella, who sent him from outside the penalty area to the far corner.
And soon Lukaku himself distinguished himself. In someone else's penalty area, he once again outplayed Edmond Tapsoba and, with an opponent hanging on his shoulder, literally pushed the ball into the goal.
This goal was the fourth for Romelu in four matches of the current LE season. Also, the footballer scored a goal in the ninth match of the tournament in a row and broke the League record. In addition, the Belgian immediately almost scored a double, but failed to realize a one-on-one exit.
It seemed that “Bayer” in such a situation could crumble, but already in the 24th minute, thanks to the precise blow of their main star Kai Havertz, the Leverkusen team reduced the gap to a minimum.
However, in the next attack, the intrigue could die completely, when the referee Carlos Del Cerro Grande appointed a penalty to the goal of the Bosch team for playing with Daley Sinkgraven's hand. But after watching the replay, the referee canceled his decision, believing that the ball hit the defender in the shoulder.
In the second half of the meeting, Bayer had to go ahead to level the score. Leverkusen had the ball more often, but practically did not create chances at the gate of Samir Handanovich. I remember only the long-range strong kick of Kevin Folland from outside the penalty area, which the Slovene coped with with some difficulty.
The counter-attacks of “Inter” looked much more dangerous. In addition, Conte made competent substitutions, releasing such masters as Christian Eriksen, Alexis Sanchez and Victor Moses on the field.
As a result, one Chilean had two moments to remove all questions about the winner of the meeting. So, after Eriksen's perfect cutting pass, the striker was right in front of Hradecki, but shot him in the leg.
A little later, Moses could hit someone else's gate. The Nigerian burst into the penalty area from the right flank, beat his opponent and shot into the near corner. Bayer in this situation again saved the goalkeeper.
And the Leverkusenites had no strength left for the final assault. Probably, their worst readiness relative to the opponent affected. And the substitutions from Bosch did not give such an effect as the castling of Conte.
In the end, Inter earned another penalty. Karim Bellarabi held Eriksen in his own free hand and Grande awarded a penalty. But this time too, VAR intervened in the situation. After watching the replay, the referee canceled the penalty spot due to a handball from partner Eriksen.
Thus, for the first time in history, Inter made it to the Europa League semifinals, where they will play against the winner of the Shakhtar - Basel confrontation. The Nerazzurri also made it to the semi-finals of the European Cup for the first time since 2010. Then the Italian team led by Jose Mourinho won the Champions League.
Junsson's 13 saves and Manchester United missed chances
The favorite was even more obvious in the meeting between Manchester United and Copenhagen. Stole Solbakken's players have already achieved a lot, becoming the first team from Denmark in 23 years, which managed to make it to the quarterfinals of the European Cup.
Additional intrigue to the match in Cologne was given by the confrontation between the two Norwegian coaches. At the end of the last century, Solbakken played 22 matches for the national team with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Now they had to meet in a new role.
Unlike Inter and Bayer, the teams immediately started playing in the LE. Copenhagen started from the playoff round. In the 1/16 finals, the Danish team turned out to be stronger than Celtic (1: 1, 3: 1), and in the 1/8 - Istanbul Bashakshehir passed. After the defeat on the road with a minimum score, Solbakken's wards scored three free balls at home into the opponent's goal.
"Manchester United" in ten matches LE won seven wins, two draws and one defeat. In the playoffs, the Mankunians did not leave the slightest chance noticeably inferior in the class of Brugge (1: 1, 5: 0) and LASK (5: 0, 2: 1).
“Copenhagen” from the first minutes of the meeting in Cologne demonstrated that it does not intend to surrender to a venerable opponent without a murmur. The Danish team was in no way inferior to the English and looked reliable in defense.
Moreover, it cannot be said that Solbakken's wards pressed against their own goal - they acted reliably and without panic. Manchester United, as expected, had more possession of the ball, but practically did not penetrate into someone else's penalty area and in the first half were scored with only two shots on target. At the same time, the opponent did not inflict a single one.
In the time added by the referee, the Mankunians still managed to open an account. Mason Greenwood, after a partner discount, sent the ball into the goal net with a rebound from the bar. However, French referee Clement Thurpin canceled the goal due to an offside position.
After the break, Manchester United increased the pressure on the opponents' goal and forced Copenhagen to retreat deep into the defense. After strikes by Bruno Fernandes and Greenwood, the ball hit the post twice. In the second case, Marcus Rashford finished it off into the net, but Turpen, due to an offside position, did not count the second goal of the Mancunians.
Karl-Johan Junsson also performed superbly on the last line of Copenhagen. Only his excellent saves allowed the team to transfer the game into extra time. The experienced Swede caught a real courage.
Overtime began with yet another incredible rescue of Junsson. The goalkeeper closed the distance in time and parried the blow of Antoni Martial. However, literally in the next episode, the Frenchman was knocked down in the penalty area by Andreas Bjelland, and Turpen awarded a penalty, although the violation of the rules did not look indisputable.
Junsson was also close to repelling Fernandes' shot from the "point". He guessed the direction of flight of the ball, but did not reach it a little.
The incident did not affect the Swede's game in any way. In the first extra half, he saved his team in several more situations. In total, the goalkeeper made 13 saves, and his counterpart Sergio Romero - none.
In the final 15 minutes, Solbakken's wards found the strength to go forward. They completely took control of the ball, but did not manage to create at least one dangerous moment.
The final whistle recorded the natural victory of Manchester United. The team reached the Europa League semi-finals for the first time in three years. In 2017, the Mancunians managed to win the trophy thanks to their victory in the final over Ajax.