June 6, 2023


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Inter Milan ease past AC Milan in Champions League semifinal first leg

3 min read

Inter have one foot in a first Champions League final since 2010 after a statement performance and 2-0 win over city rivals AC Milan in a huge semi-final first leg at San Siro.

Early goals from Edin Dzeko and Henrikh Mkhitaryan made the difference on the night, but it could easily have been plenty more. Either way, Milan have work to do when they meet again for the second leg next week.

Milan were caught cold with only eight minutes on the clock when Dzeko showed every bit of guile, experience and quality to hold off Davide Calabria at Hakan Calhanoglu’s in-swinging corner and connect with a left-footed volley into the net.

Inter struck again while the iron was hot. This time it was a counter down the left that saw Federico Dimarco send the ball into Mkhitaryan’s path. The defence in front of him seemed to part and the Armenian only had Mike Maignan to beat for double the lead.

It could have quickly been three for the Nerazzurri when Calhanoglu, of the Rossoneri until 2021, sliced across the ball and struck the inside of the post. Inter kept the chance alive and Mkhitaryan hit a shot at the feet of Maignan, while Barella blazed the rebound over.

Milan took another hit when Ismael Bennacer was forced off injured inside 20 minutes, but seemed to be settling and gaining a foothold until the electric Lautaro Martinez sat Fikayo Tomori down and appeared to be clipped by Simon Kjaer. A penalty was originally awarded but then bizarrely revered following a VAR intervention. Inter then seemed to up the tempo again and Milan were briefly on the ropes until again warming into things by the time the half-time whistle sounded.

Brahim Diaz went close for Milan with a curling effort soon after the restart. Junior Messias then missed the target with a glorious chance after being put through on goal by Sandro Tonali. But, defensively, they remained suspect and Alessandro Bastoni was allowed to waltz through all the way from the back, feeding Dzeko who was only denied by a top save from Maignan.

Tonali hit the outside of the post after a good Milan move in the closest the ‘home’ side had come. The atmosphere inside San Siro was building and building, but Inter also continued to have chances, with Francesco Acerbi stinging Maignan’s hands from distance and Matteo Darmian denied by an outstanding block from substitute Malick Thiaw.

Rade Krunic walked the tightrope and survived a possible red card in a clash with Acerbi.

Milan’s trouble was that even when they did get the ball into good areas, there was a real lack of quality when it mattered. As such, it was stoppage time at the end of the game before they registered a meaningful shot on target. Even then, it was a comfortable save for Andre Onana after substitute Tommaso Pobega hit the ball straight at him.

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