Romelu Lukaku scored for a record ninth consecutive Europa League game as Inter Milan beat Bayer Leverkusen in Dusseldorf to reach the semi-finals. Nicolo Barella fired home an excellent 20-yard strike to give Inter the lead. Lukaku controlled Ashley Young’s pass, turned a defender and slotted home for his 31st goal of the season.
Kai Havertz smashed home from six yards out to give Leverkusen hope but they could not find a leveller to force extra time in the one-off tie. Antonio Conte’s side will face the winner of Shakhtar Donetsk v Basel in the semi-final on 17 August, also in Dusseldorf. Lukaku is the first player to ever score in nine UEFA Cup or Europa League matches in a row, although that run includes five games for Everton in 2014-15. He twice prepared to take a penalty – in the first half and in injury time at the end – but both times the decisions were overturned by the video assistant referee. The Italian side could have beaten Leverkusen by more with Lukaku forcing Lukas Hradecky into a good save and former Premier League players Christian Eriksen, Alexis Sanchez and Victor Moses going close after coming off the bench. “We are growing but we have to learn to kill games off when we have the chances to do it, and we didn’t tonight,” said Lukaku, who is now Inter’s top scorer in a season since Samuel Eto’o in 2010-11. “Now we have time to recover physically and prepare for another great game. We will have to be ready.”