Inter Milan ended Sheriff Tiraspol’s perfect start to their debut Champions League campaign with a comfortable 3-1 win at San Siro on Tuesday, the Italians’ first victory in Group D.
The Moldovans earned shock wins against Shakhtar Donetsk and Real Madrid to become unlikely group leaders and they remain top with six points, two ahead of Inter in third but level with Real, who won 5-0 in Ukraine.
An Edin Dzeko volley put Inter ahead at halftime but Sebastien Thill, scorer of Sheriff’s spectacular late winner in Madrid, produced a curling free kick from long range to draw the visitors level in the 52nd minute.
However, Arturo Vidal’s strike edged Inter back in front six minutes later, before Stefan de Vrij ended any hopes of another upset with a neat finish in the 67th minute.
The Moldovans’ surprise success has been one of the stories of the Champions League so far but Inter, who failed to score in their opening two group games, managed to avoid another upset with a controlled performance.
Dzeko had a shot charged down by Dumitru Celeadnic early on, but there was nothing the goalkeeper could do to stop the striker’s wonderfully controlled volley into the top corner in the 34th minute after a corner was flicked into his path.
It gave the hosts a deserved lead, and they went in at the break as the only team to have produced 14 shots in a first half twice this season, having done so in their 1-0 defeat to Real Madrid last month.
But Sheriff came out strongly in the second half, with Bruno testing Samir Handanovic from range before Thill’s exceptional effort from 25 yards out sparked wild celebrations.
Ivan Perisic’s shot rattled the outside of the post two minutes before Vidal fired home the goal that settled Inter nerves and quickly restored their lead.
Simone Inzaghi’s side earned a cushion when a corner was headed into the path of De Vrij, who turned in a volley from close range.
The margin of victory could have been even greater by fulltime, as Perisic blasted a shot off the bar and Lautaro Martinez had a late effort tipped over.