MILAN – What could be more extraordinary than a Derby played without a crowd, a highly significant and highly anticipated Derby where so much was on the line? An Inter win is the only way it could become even more extraordinary, and this is what happened today. AC Milan 0-3 Inter. Milano is Nerazzurra. Sublime, unstoppable and ruthless. And united as one, as perfectly encapsulated by the full-time celebrations. “Those who don’t jump are Rossoneri” was the chant coming from our jubilant players. It was their way of showing their love for the Interesti after a performance where they displayed so much pride for the shirt and used up so much energy, bringing us so much joy in the process. 3-0, a Lautaro brace and a goal from Lukaku. An extraordinary game where everyone made a contribution: from the Argentine and Belgian through to Handanovic, the defenders and the widemen. All of them were magnificent.
There are some trains that don’t wait for a second: they need to be caught on time, otherwise you’ll miss them. There’s always the risk that they’ll speed away and disappear behind a grey fog similar to that which surrounded San Siro prior to this Derby clash. But the Nerazzurri players were ready at the station, ready to catch that train, ready to start today’s journey.
Right from the off, Inter played with ferocity and determination. It was clear what the Nerazzurri wanted: to colour the tracks black and blue. And they were well on their way after just five minutes. The unstoppable Romelu Lukaku produced a wonderful left-footed cross for Lautaro, who headed into the net. That combination again. Inter were 1-0 ahead.
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The Nerazzurri train was well on its way, with all of its components moving in harmony and covering kilometres. Conte’s men were managing play well, also happy to absorb AC Milan attacks and strike back down the wings. Eriksen’s quick feet were oiling the wheels, while Barella’s aggressiveness was forcing AC Milan back on a regular basis. Lautaro was extremely bright, as was Perisic. The Croat continued to fly down the left flank and play crosses into the area that almost resulted in goals. He also drew a fine one-handed stop from Donnarumma.
And as for AC Milan? They were struggling in the build-up and decided to put their faith in putting it down the middle directly to Ibrahimovic, especially in the air. Their first real chance came 15 minutes in, a scramble in the box. In the 33rd minute, Hernandez jumped on a loose ball and missed the target by very little. Inter, meanwhile, came close to making it 2-0 right at the end of the first half as Skriniar headed narrowly over, with the Nerazzurri heading into the changing rooms frustrated at being only one goal up.
After the half-time break and a pause in the journey, AC Milan dominated at the start of the second half, attacking Inter in furious fashion. Pioli’s side initially threw the ball into Inter’s box in an attempt to scre. Ibrahimovic was denied by two magnificent Handanovic saves. It wasn’t over yet: less than a minute later, the Inter skipper stuck out a hand to keep out Tonali’s effort. With AC Milan pulling out all the stops, Inter were under pressure. But they never gave up, soaking up the Rossoneri’s play with the three centre-backs pouncing on every ball with great courage. Interceptions, clearances, headers: it wasn’t easy going. But their message was clear: you shall not pass.
With this confidence pushing them forwards, Inter were unleashed and they devastated the Rossoneri defence. Within ten minutes it was 3-0. But how? With marvellous, fast, penetrating moves, consisting of teamwork, power, and will. It was truly beautiful. Lautaro’s goal in the 57th minute was unstoppable. But the Toro was only the final piece of a larger, fantastic move: Hakimi split AC Milan in half with one of his runs forward, Eriksen showed elegance to help it on and Perisic was impeccable with the assist for Lautaro’s left foot. This explosion wasn’t the end of the Nerazzurri’s energy. There was one name missing from the scoresheet: a name which undoubtedly wanted to leave a mark: Romelu Lukaku.
After Lukaku had received the ball from Perisic, Romagnoli simply couldn’t contain the Belgian and Donnarumma could do nothing to stop the explosive finish from our number 9’s left foot. With his goal making it 3-0, he has scored in the last four Derbies in the league that he has played in: the last person to do it? Benito Lorenzi in 1950. The final 25 minutes provided Inter with the opportunity to carry on their excellent performance: a steely defence, especially in 50-50s. The ability to hit on the counter, with Barella close to scoring. And not forgetting Handanovic, unbeatable from start to finish, with yet another excellent save to deny Rebic.
Beautiful, perfect, extraordinary: 3-0, which puts Inter four points ahead of AC Milan at the top of the league. And that hug, the run towards the empty Curva Nord. A love for this Club helps overcome temporary barriers and can be felt across the whole of Milano.
A city that, as usual, is black and blue.
AC MILAN (4-2-3-1): 99 G. Donnarumma; 2 Calabria, 24 Kjaer, 13 Romagnoli, 19 Hernandez; 79 Kessie, 8 Tonali (18 Meité 67'); 56 Saelemaekers (17 Leao 67'), 10 Calhanoglu, 12 Rebic; 11 Ibrahimovic (7 Castillejo 75').
Substitutes: 1 Tatarusanu, 90 A. Donnarumma, 5 Dalot, 15 Hauge, 20 Kalulu, 21 Diaz, 23 Tomori, 33 Krunic, 46 Gabbia.
Coach: Stefano Pioli.
INTER (3-5-2): 1 Handanovic; 37 Skriniar, 6 de Vrij, 95 Bastoni; 2 Hakimi (15 Young 83'), 23 Barella (22 Vidal 86'), 77 Brozovic, 24 Eriksen (5 Gagliardini 78'), 14 Perisic (36 Darmian 78'); 9 Lukaku, 10 Lautaro (7 Sanchez 78').
Substitutes: 27 Padelli, 97 Radu, 8 Vecino, 11 Kolarov, 13 Ranocchia, 33 D'Ambrosio, 99 Pinamonti.
Coach: Antonio Conte.
Goalscorers: 5' and 57' Lautaro (I), 66' Lukaku (I)
Bookings: Kjaer (M), Hakimi (I), Saelemaekers (M)
Assistants: Carbone, Peretti.
Fourth official: Guida.
VAR assistant: Bindoni.