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Inter and substitute Romelu Lukaku are on their way to the Champions League final. Not because they won 0-2 ‘on the move’, but because it is firmer, more mature and more opportunistic than its fellow townsman. Two minutes were enough to make the difference.
Mind you, that Inter achieved this victory away is very relative. After all, the two Milanese teams will face each other again in the same stadium next Tuesday. On the same field, with the same stands and with almost the same players. Only then there will be more Inter than Milan supporters populating the immense San Siro. Play away or at home. Nowhere is it as relative as in Milan.
Still, Inter seems to have the best cards to face Manchester City or Real Madrid as the underdog in the final on Saturday 10 June in Istanbul. Inter showed more solidity and played with more maturity than AC Milan. Italian football likes to rely on experienced hands and with, on the spur of the moment, Acerbi (35), Damian (33), Mkhitaryan (34) and Dzeko (37), Inter has a few of them in the team. It was tight in the back. If the opponent becomes Real Madrid and the Madrilenians take a wait-and-see approach, as they did in the initial phase against City on Tuesday, it will be a tough final. Well, we’re not that far yet.
Intensity. One of the new buzzwords in current football. It used to be called simply playing with a maximum bet. Now there is a frantic pace. If you want to see an illustration of this, you should watch this Milan derby again. It went up and down at a hellish speed, especially in the first half. Heavy duels were fought on every square meter of the field. In the first half that resulted in a nice viewing piece. After the break, the intensity remained but the entertainment value went down. In the swirling stands, the frenzied real football atmosphere hardly changed. Goosebumps.
We already understand better why the timid Charles De Ketelaere is not mentioned much at this AC Milan. If the 22-year-old from Bruges needs some time to get used to this, that is understandable. Beauty awards are nice. However, this kind of competition requires much, much more. The stadium has been on fire for an hour beforehand, the rivalry in this derby is sharp on the field and in the chants. De Ketelaere is not ready for this. At least, especially according to his trainer Stefano Pioli. The left leg remained on the bench for 90 minutes.
We in Belgium were already worried in advance that Romelu Lukaku was not kicking off at Inter. Still three goals and three assists in the three previous games. Isn’t that enough to drive 37-year-old Edin Dzeko to the bench, Mister Simone Inzaghi? So no. And the Bosnian striker supported the choice of the national coach with a swipe after eight minutes. Dzeko easily trumped AC Milan captain Calabria and half-turned, leaning on one leg, volleyed the ball into the square. This could count. Nice goal and the lead so early in the derby. Lukaku therefore had to wait until the 70th minute to replace Dzeko. The Red Devil could no longer make a difference, but is sharp. We saw that.
The fact that Mkihitaryan made it 0-2 with an unlikely free pass two minutes after the 0-1, exposed AC Milan’s problems. The defense makes too many mistakes. Five minutes later, the home team again. Calhanoglu hit the post, Mkhitaryan’s rebound was blocked. Another Houdini act for AC Milan on the half hour mark. This time the video ref reached out to help. Kjaer made a mistake and hand-tipped Lautaro Martinez. The Argentine loved to fall. Penalty kick according to the ref, a obviouserror of the Spaniard according to the VAR. We didn’t think so, but Gil Manzano reversed the decision. Milan was allowed to come from Inter, but could only boast a heel from Calabria in the side net in the first half. It was tight of Nerazzurri.
Saelemaekers an Origi
Saelemaekers was allowed to participate at AC Milan, thanks to the injury of star player Leao. The 23-year-old former Anderlecht player did not look out of place in this fierce match. However, it was not possible to make a difference. One nice individual action in the first half ended when he crushed himself. On the hour he was replaced by Divock Origi. Our compatriot got a bit more space than Saelemaekers on that left side. He shook some individual actions out of the slippers, but without a goal as a result.
So that was all in the second half when AC Milan showed themselves more dangerous. Brahim Diaz and the substitute Messiah Jr. finally to shots. Tonali even hit the post. Still, Inter got the best chance. When Dzeko was still on the field. Bastoni put the Bosnian 0-3 on the foot, but he decided on his compatriot Maignan in goal at AC Milan.