International

Inter snatch Champions League spot from Lazio

2018-05-21 07:51
Stefan De Vrij. (Getty Images)

Milan - Inter Milan captain Mauro Icardi said it was "just destiny" that his future team-mate Stefan de Vrij gave away a penalty Sunday that helped Inter seal a Champions League place at the expense of Lazio.

Dutch international defender De Vrij has confirmed he is leaving Lazio at the end of the season which finished on Sunday, with Inter reportedly set to announce his signing on a free transfer.

Sunday's match in the Stadio Olimpico was a direct clash between two teams fighting for Champions League football next season.

Lazio, in fourth before the game, needed only a point against fifth-placed Inter to return to the Champions League for the first time in a decade.

But the hosts threw away a 2-1 lead with 15 minutes to go.

De Vrij fouled Icardi to concede a penalty converted by the striker on 78 minutes, with Matias Vecino heading in the winner three minutes later after Lazio captain Senad Lulic was sent off for a second yellow card.

"All players are professionals, I don't think he fouled me on purpose," Icardi said.

"He tried to stop me scoring, it was just destiny.

"We'll certainly try to improve, because a side like Inter cannot afford to be so inconsistent," said the Argentine of a campaign which saw Inter go unbeaten until December 16 before struggling in the second part of the season.

"That's the first thing we need to sort out. We had a great start to the season, then there was a collapse.

"We put in these performances that are either fantastic or terrible. We must try to find a middle ground."

Uncertain future

Icardi's goal was his 100th for Inter and put him joint top of the Serie A scorers this season on 29 alongside Lazio's Ciro Immobile.

"Finally these goals are worth something. To return to the Champions league is the best news possible for us," said the 25-year-old striker who has been linked with a move to Real Madrid.

But he said he could opt to stay in the San Siro now that Luciano Spalletti's side have returned to the Champions League after a six-year break.

"We now have two months to discuss the matter.

"We will see what is best for Inter. They know what I think and they will also make a decision.

"The target was the Champions League, we achieved it and will go from there.

"We'll have more options on the transfer market now and the club will try to do something. Last year, they did all they could and improved the squad.

"I would be very happy to play for Inter but if my future is meant to be somewhere else, then I will evaluate the opportunities. I am very happy here at Inter and I even bought a new house here in Milan."

Both Inter and Lazio finished on 72 points five points behind third-placed Roma who beat Sassuolo 1-0 on Sunday, but Inter clinched fourth on head-to-head record.

Inter return to Europe for the first time since the 2011-2012 season, along with Juventus, Napoli and Roma.

Lazio go into the Europa League along with AC Milan who sealed direct access to the group stage with a 5-1 rout of Fiorentina, who finish eighth.

Atalanta took seventh place and a spot in the Europa League qualifying rounds despite a 1-0 defeat at Cagliari.

Read more on:    inter milan  |  serie a  |  soccer
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