Viktoria Plzen 0-2 Inter: Dzeko and Dumfries get Nerazzurri up and running

·3-min read

Edin Dzeko and Denzel Dumfries guided Inter to a much-needed 2-0 win over 10-man Viktoria Plzen, kick-starting the Nerazzurri's Champions League campaign.

Defeat to Bayern Munich last Wednesday meant Inter needed to respond in the Czech Republic, and they never looked likely to drop points after Dzeko swept home in the first half.

Pavel Bucha's straight red card cemented Inter's superiority, with Dumfries making the points safe when Dzeko turned provider with 20 minutes remaining.

With Simone Inzaghi's men facing criticism after an inconsistent start to the season, the win provides a welcome boost ahead of the daunting prospect of back-to-back meetings with Group C rivals Barcelona.

Inter needed just 20 minutes to turn their dominance of possession into a deserved lead - Dzeko tucking a neat finish into the bottom-right corner.

Dzeko could have had a second when Marcelo Brozovic slipped him through on goal, but the forward's low effort was well saved by Jindrich Stanek.

Plzen were unable to test Andre Onana despite improving before the break, and were indebted to Stanek for saving Milan Skriniar's glancing header at full stretch three minutes into the second half.

Dumfries missed a golden chance when he nodded over the crossbar from six yards out, but Plzen's chances of a comeback were left in tatters by Bucha's reckless challenge on Nicolo Barella, which saw him receive his marching orders following a VAR review.

The depleted hosts were put out of their misery in the 70th minute, Dumfries making amends as he latched onto Dzeko's pass and lifted a finish beyond Stanek.

What does it mean? Nerazzurri off the mark

Inter's meek defeat to Bayern led to an apology from chief executive Giuseppe Marotta, and the presence of two European heavyweights in Group C meant the Nerazzurri were under genuine pressure ahead of the trip to Plzen.

But Inzaghi's side produced the goods to boost their qualification hopes, ensuring Inter have still only started one Champions League campaign with back-to-back losses (under Roberto Mancini in 2006-07) in the process.

Dzeko steps up

With Romelu Lukaku injured and Lautaro Martinez starting on the bench, Inter's back-up strikers were handed an opportunity to shine on Tuesday.

Dzeko became the oldest player to play a Champions League game for Inter for over a decade last time out (since Javier Zanetti v Marseille in March 2012), but his cultured finish demonstrated the former Manchester City and Roma striker still has the quality to contribute.

Since Dzeko joined Inter in August 2021, only Martinez (28) has bettered his tally of 19 goals for the club in all competitions.

No joy for Plzen

Few would have held out any hope for Viktoria Plzen after they were drawn into a group containing Inter, Barcelona and Bayern, and their back-to-back defeats have done little to reverse perceptions of them being Group C whipping boys.

Plzen have shipped 51 goals in just 20 Champions League matches, becoming just the second side to bring up an unwanted century in so few games; Malmo conceded their 50th Champions League goal in their 18th outing.

Key Opta Facts

- Plzen have lost nine of their 10 Champions League games against previous winners of the competition, conceding 30 goals along the way.

- Dzeko has been involved in 20 goals in his last 21 appearances in the Champions League, scoring 14 and setting up a further six.

- At 36 years and 180 days, Dzeko is the oldest player to both score and assist in the same Champions League game since Didier Drogba for Chelsea against Schalke in November 2014 (36y 259d).

- Bucha became just the second player to be sent off for Plzen in the Champions League, after Marian Cisovsky against Barcelona in November 2011.

- Dumfries' goal was his first in the Champions League, in his 15th appearance in the competition.

What's next?

Inter travel to Udinese for their next Serie A outing on Sunday, while Plzen host Slavia Prague in the Czech First League.