Inter Milan 2-1 Empoli: Hosts secure Champions League qualification

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Inter Milan 2-1 Empoli: Late strike by Radja Nainggolan secures Champions League qualification and relegates gallant visitors from Serie A

  • Inter Milan secured Champions League qualification on the final day in Serie A 
  • Radja Nainggolan scored an 81st-minute winner to relegate Empoli to Serie B
  • Hamed Junior Traore had moments earlier cancelled out Keita Balde’s opener 
  • Sunday’s victory saw Inter finish fourth — one point above rivals AC Milan

Inter Milan sneaked into next season’s Champions League when a late goal from Radja Nainggolan gave them a 2-1 win over a gallant Empoli, who were relegated after an astonishing Serie A match on Sunday.

Half-time substitute Keita Balde fired Inter in front six minutes after the restart before Mauro Icardi won a penalty for the hosts, only to see his effort saved by Empoli goalkeeper Bartlomiej Dragowski.

There was more drama as Empoli snatched an equaliser when Hamed Junior Traore was left unmarked to tap in at the far post in the 76th minute. 

Inter Milan secured Champions League qualification on the final day of the Serie A season

Inter Milan secured Champions League qualification on the final day of the Serie A season

Inter looked set to miss out on a top-four finish until Radja Nainggolan scored on 81 minutes

Inter looked set to miss out on a top-four finish until Radja Nainggolan scored on 81 minutes

Inter had looked in trouble when No 8 Hamed Junior Traore struck for Empoli on 76 minutes

Inter had looked in trouble when No 8 Hamed Junior Traore struck for Empoli on 76 minutes

Traore’s goal made the score 1-1 — a result which would have saved Empoli and caused Inter to miss out on the top four.

Instead, Nainggolan turned in the rebound after a Matias Vecino shot hit the post in the 81st minute to take Inter into fourth place with 69 points, one ahead of AC Milan who won 3-2 at SPAL.

Marcelo Brozovic thought he had made it 3-1 to Inter in added time but the VAR ruled out his effort.

Balde was then sent off for picking up a second yellow card. His first was awarded for the removal of his shirt while celebrating Inter’s opening goal.

Marcelo Brozovic thought he had made it 3-1 to Inter in added time but the VAR disagreed

Marcelo Brozovic thought he had made it 3-1 to Inter in added time but the VAR disagreed 

Keita Balde was booked for celebrating the game's opening goal by removing his Inter shirt

Keita Balde was booked for celebrating the game’s opening goal by removing his Inter shirt

And Balde's needless caution contributed to him being sent off for a second yellow card late on

And Balde’s needless caution contributed to him being sent off for a second yellow card late on

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