MILAN (AP) — Edin Džeko scored one goal and set up another as Inter Milan finally kick-started its Champions League campaign with a 3-1 win over previously unbeaten Sheriff on Tuesday.
Džeko scored the opener and then set up Arturo Vidal for Inter’s second, shortly after Sébastien Thill had equalized for Sheriff. Stefan de Vrij all but sealed Inter’s first win of this season’s Champions League in the 67th minute.
Sheriff remained top of Group D, level on six points with Real Madrid, but above the 13-time European champion because of the Moldovan league club’s surprise victory when the two met in the last round.
Inter is two points further back and three above Shakhtar Donetsk. Madrid won 5-0 at Shakhtar in the other group match.
“We are still in it,” Džeko said. “It was like a knockout match for us, we really had to win it. The three points are very important.
“My goal? Sometimes difficult goals are easy, maybe it’s just a question of concentration … every positive result give us more confidence.”
Sheriff had made quite the impact in its first season in the Champions League, beating Shakhtar and Madrid to top the group. And coach Yuriy Vernydub was proud of his team’s character after its first loss in the competition.
“Despite losing 3-1, we still showed good football and played our game,” he said. “We didn’t just defend. We managed to do good counterattacks, we scored a great goal and we had other chances. But Inter is Inter. I’m still happy and very proud.”
Inter was winless and scoreless through its opening two games, and the Italian champion was coming off its first Serie A defeat of the season at Lazio. It had also won just three of its last 18 Champions League matches.
Sheriff started brightly but Inter slowly got into the match and had the first decent opportunity when Džeko threaded the ball through for Denzel Dumfries but visiting goalkeeper Dumitru Celeadnic rushed out to smother at his feet.
Celeadnic was making his Champions League debut, standing in for the ill Giorgos Athanasiadis, but he showed no sign of being fazed by the occasion at the iconic San Siro. He made another good save to deny Džeko at point-blank range before doing even better to acrobatically fingertip a free kick from Federico Dimarco over the bar in the 34th minute.
But Inter broke the deadlock form the resulting corner which was flicked on for Džeko to volley powerfully into the top left corner.
Sheriff almost leveled seven minutes later with its first shot on target but Cristiano was denied by a flying save from Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanović.
It did level seven minutes into the second half when Thill whipped in a fantastic free kick from 30 yards.
Inter should have swiftly restored its advantage but Dumfries fired narrowly over and moments later Ivan Perišić hit the left post.
The Nerazzuri scored in the 58th as Džeko found Arturo Vidal in a good position in the left side of the box and he fired it past Celeadnic.
And Inter all but wrapped up its first Champions League win of the season nine minutes later when a corner was headed back in front of goal and De Vrij volleyed it into the bottom right corner.
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