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UCL: Inter subdue Shakhtar Donetsk, close in on last 16

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Edin Dzeko scored his 50th European goal as Inter took a huge stride towards the Champions League knockout stages with a 2-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk.

The former Manchester City striker netted a brace at San Siro as the Nerazzurri moved to the brink of the last 16.

Dzeko opened the scoring with a clinical finish in the 61st minute, before sealing the win six minutes later with a close-range header.

Simone Inzaghi’s side move to the summit of Group D and will secure a top-two finish if Real Madrid beat Sheriff Tiraspol later on Wednesday.

Inter asked Shakhtar plenty of questions during the first half with 15 shots on goal.

The visitors had Anatolii Trubin to thank as the goalkeeper made strong blocks to deny Lautaro Martinez and Dzeko, while Andrea Ranocchia headed a decent opportunity wide from a corner.

Inter thought they had taken the lead when Ivan Perisic drilled home in the 24th minute, but the effort was ruled out after Hakan Calhanoglu strayed offside.

Chances for Shakhtar were few and far between at the other end, although Samir Handanovic was called into action to deny Fernando following a strong run.

Inter had the ball in the net again 12 minutes after the restart, Martinez volleying past Trubin, only for his strike to be ruled out for a push.

But there was no denying the hosts four minutes later as Dzeko fired home from just inside the box after Matteo Darmian’s initial effort ricocheted kindly into his path.

The Bosnia-Herzegovina international doubled his tally within six minutes, popping up at the far post to head home Perisic’s inviting cross and secure the points.

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It was a special day for Dzeko as he reached half a century of European goals in his fine career.

A constant threat going forward, he registered game-high tallies of seven shots and four on target.

The former Manchester City striker was also involved in 12 duels; another tally that was not beaten by any other player.

No player had attempted more shots from outside the box than Pedrinho in the first four matchdays of this season’s Champions League (eight).

However, the Brazilian could only muster one shot on goal at San Siro, while he only won 42.9 per cent of his duels.

Also, his tally of 21 passes was the third lowest recorded by any of Shakhtar’s starting players.

Key Opta Facts

– Inter have won three Champions League games in a single campaign for the first time since 2011-12 (4).

– There were 20 shots in the first half of this match, the most without a goal in a Champions League game since September 2017 (Maribor versus Spartak Moscow, 22).

Inter will be hoping their last-16 spot is secured by the time they face Real Madrid in the final match of Group D.

Meanwhile, with their elimination from all European competition this season confirmed, Shakhtar will simply be playing for pride by the time they face Sheriff in two weeks’ time.

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