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Written by on February 27, 2020

The stands didn’t fill and the group didn’t roar, however there was an vital soccer match scheduled in Milan on Thursday, so Internazionale, the house workforce, and Ludogorets, the guests from Bulgaria, put aside their fears concerning the coronavirus and dutifully went about taking part in one another.

Italian well being officers had set the weird stage for the sport by ordering the stadium closed to spectators. In Italy, the place the variety of confirmed coronavirus circumstances soared previous 600 this week, the authorities have restricted public gatherings in an try the sluggish the unfold of the outbreak.

However the Europa League schedule was rigid, and so the round-of-32 recreation went on, with solely the gamers’ shouts, the coaches’ directions and the referee’s whistle as a soundtrack.

Ludogorets arrived greater than an hour earlier than kickoff however was clearly cautious: When its gamers filed off the bus and entered the stadium, they have been sporting face masks.

Whereas the tens of hundreds of followers who had purchased tickets have been absent, makes an attempt at pageantry have been preserved: The groups walked out of the tunnel facet by facet as regular, then stood stoically whereas the Europa League anthem boomed out of the loudspeakers within the empty stadium. The gamers posed for workforce pictures, and the captains exchanged handshakes and workforce pennants.

Ludogorets scored first, on a well timed shove and a tight-angle end by the Brazilian Cauly. Inter’s defenders protested, saying Cauly had shoved down heart again Diego Godín to free himself, however even within the silence the referee wasn’t inclined to hear.

Inter equalized on Cristiano Biraghi’s shot to the close to submit within the 31st minute, after which took the lead on Romelu Lukaku’s uncommon double header simply earlier than halftime. Lukaku didn’t know a lot concerning the aim — his first try was saved, and the ricochet went in off his forehead as he lay on the turf. It was, although, the primary time it will have been good if a crowd had been there to rise as one and scream for one thing, particularly one thing that doesn’t occur fairly often.

Because the scoreboard clock ticked down, Inter’s two objectives, mixed with the 2 it scored within the first leg of the home-and-home tie, successfully assured it will advance to the following spherical. However the German referee, Daniel Siebert, wasn’t up for any stalling. “Take the ball,” he shouted to an Inter participant at one level. “They want three objectives. Come on.”

Inter’s days taking part in in empty stadiums aren’t over. Its match towards league-leading Juventus on Sunday, a pivotal and extremely anticipated second on this 12 months’s title race, is certainly one of 5 this weekend which were ordered performed behind closed doorways.

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