Romelu Lukaku helped Inter reach the Quarter-Finals of the Europa League at the expense of Getafe, as they secured a 2-0 win at the Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen on Wednesday.
The former Manchester United striker drilled in on the half-hour mark to give the Nerazzurri a hard-fought victory on neutral turf in Germany.
Inter were let off the hook in the second half as Getafe captain Jorge Molina fired wide from the penalty spot after Diego Godin’s handball, and Christian Eriksen stepped off the bench to seal victory.
Getafe started brightly and took the game to Inter early on, with Nemanja Maksimovic almost netting after just two minutes. The Serb rose above Godin in the box to guide a downward header goalward, but Samir Handanovic produced a fine save.
The Spaniards enjoyed much of the early possession and came close once more as Jaime Mata met Marc Cucurella’s low cross and stepped away from Godin in the box, but his strike deflected up and into Handanovic’s arms.
However, Inter burst into life midway through the first half and Lautaro Martinez intercepted a loose pass to skip through the defence, only for his low shot across the face of goal to be well parried by David Soria.
The goalkeeper was again on hand to keep Martinez out just moments later in similar fashion, before Inter finally broke the deadlock on the half-hour mark.
Alessandro Bastoni found time and space to loft a sumptuous ball over the top from defence for Lukaku, and the Belgian showed great strength to hold Xabier Exteita off before drilling in off the far post.
The Nerazzurri were in complete control as the second half kicked off and came within inches of doubling their lead early on. Nicolo Barella saw a deflected strike whistle past the post, and from the resulting corner Danilo D’Ambrosio’s acrobatic effort was palmed away.
With the tie in danger of slipping away from them, Getafe began to attack with greater vigour. Cucurella threaded a wonderfully weighted pass for Mata, and his touch on was sliced wide by Mauro Arambarri.
Meanwhile, Mata forced a fine one-handed stop from Handanovic as he met Allan Nyom’s deep cross, before the Spaniards were afforded a way back in.
Godin was adjudged to have handled Jason’s cross with just 15 minutes remaining, and a lengthy VAR check awarded Getafe a penalty. Molina stepped up, but dragged his penalty well wide of the post.
At the other end Lukaku ought to have put the result beyond doubt as he latched onto Barella’s cutback in a crowded box, but the striker sliced wide from close range.
Yet it proved to merely be a stay of execution for Getafe, as substitute Eriksen slotted home from a miscued Djene clearance at the end of a rapid counterattack.
The victory sees Inter progress to the Quarter-Finals of the competition, where they will face the winner of Thursday’s tie between Bayer Leverkusen and Rangers.