Inter Milan booked their place in next season’s Champions League in the most dramatic style on Sunday night, with the Nerazzurri securing a 3-2 comeback win in a winner-takes-all clash with Lazio in Rome.
Luciano Spaletti’s Inter started the day in fifth spot with 69 points, one place off the Champions League berth, with Lazio fourth on 72 points.
Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio side took the lead on nine minutes in fortuitous circumstances, with Ivan Perisic deflecting a shot into the back of his own net.
Just before the half-hour mark, Inter got themselves level courtesy of defender Danilo D’Ambrosio.
On 41 minutes, Brazilian attacker Felipe Anderson put the hosts back in the lead after a quick break and a superb finish.
After the break, Inter thought they had won a penalty when Matias Vecino went down in the box, only for the officials to decide against a spot-kick after a bit of VAR action.
Lazio looked to be headed for the Champions League themselves until the 78th minute when their Dutch defender Stefan de Vrij, who, by quirk of fate, has already agreed a move to Inter in the summer, felled Mauro Icardi in the box courtesy of a wild challenge to mess everything up.
The Inter captain duly converted the resulting spot-kick to set up a dramatic finale.
Soon after, captain Senad Lulic saw red for a second bookable offence as Lazio started to wobble.
Then, on 81 minutes, Matias Vecino sent the home fans wild, with the Uruguayan midfielder heading home the priceless winner from a Marcelo Brozovic corner.
Things then got even worse for Lazio in added time, with sub Patric sent off.
The game would end in a 3-2 victory for Inter, meaning they finish level on points with Lazio and despite an inferior goal difference, take fourth spot due to Serie A’s head-to-head rule.
While Inter will return to the Champions League for the first time since 2011/12, Lazio will be left wondering just how they threw the most important game of their season away.
Quite the farewell shift for De Vrij!