The 236th Derby della Madonnina ended in favour of Internazionale, who scored two early goals through 37-year-old Edin Dzeko and 34-year-old Henrikh Mkhitaryan and claimed a crucial 2-0 away victory over AC Milan at San Siro on Wednesday.
This massive away win is a giant step towards qualifying for the Champions League final by the Nerazzurri.
The first half of the game saw Inter Milan take the lead in the eighth minute through a goal from Edin Dzeko, who volleyed home a corner kick taken by Hakan Calhanoglu.
Inter continued to dominate the half, and in the 11th minute, Henrikh Mkhitaryan doubled their lead with a well-placed shot from inside the box, assisted by Federico Dimarco. Calhanoglu hit the upright in the 16th minute from a fierce drive outside the box as the AC Milan defence continued to part like the Red Sea.
Without the injured Rafael Leao, AC Milan were toothless in attack, with Denzel Dumfries doing a number on Theo Hernandez by pinning the left back in his half. In the 18th minute, AC Milan were forced into a substitution after Ismael Bennacer hobbled off, and Junior Messias replaced him.
Referee Jesus Gil Manzano overturned himself in the 31st after awarding a penalty to Inter after Simon Kjaer felled Lautaro Martinez in the box. But after consulting with VAR and going to the monitor, Manzano overruled his first decision. Though Kjaer’s touch on Martinez was minimal, the penalty was the correct decision.
According to Opta, Inter are only the fourth side to take a two-goal lead in the opening 11 minutes of a Champions League semi-final match, after Juventus, Manchester United and Manchester City recorded similar feats in 1999, 2009 and 2022, respectively.
4 – Internazionale are only the fourth side to take a two-goal lead in the opening 11 minutes of a Champions League semi-final match, after Juventus v Man Utd in April 1999, Man Utd v Arsenal in May 2009, and Man City v Real Madrid in April 2022. Blistering. pic.twitter.com/2RTrGDiNsT
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 10, 2023
Inter Milan created a deluge of scoring chances in the first half with 11 shots with three on target, while AC Milan, who tried to get back into the game and had a few chances, had five shots with none on target.
AC Milan were better in the second half and started creating scoring chances. Messias shot wide in the 51st minute, but Inter should have scored their third goal when Dzeko faced AC Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan one-on-one in the 53rd minute, but the goalkeeper made a brilliant save. It could have been game over.
Sandro Tonali’s shot hit the outside of the post in the 63rd minute as Stefano Pioli made several changes. Tommaso Pobega came in for Brahim Díaz, and Pierre Kalulu for Davide Calabria.
Inter also made substitutions of theirs, with Joaquín Correa and Roberto Gagliardini replacing Martínez and Calhanoglu, respectively, in the 78th minute.
Despite the injection of fresh legs at different points of the match, the game ended 2-0 in favour of Inter Milan, giving them a significant advantage going into the second leg of the semi-final.
No one gave Inter Milan a chance 13 years ago when Jose Mourinho led them to the final of the Champions League, where they beat Bayern Munich to claim Europe’s most significant club honour.
After several years of trying and futile efforts, Inter are looking good to give the Champions League title another shot with Wednesday’s commanding display.
Whoever emerges victorious over two legs from this game will come up against Manchester City or Real Madrid in the final.
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