Inter Milan 1-0 AC Milan: Nerazzurri reach Champions League final for first time since 2010

Inter Milan have secured their long-awaited return to the Champions League final after beating AC Milan 1-0 (3-0 on aggregate) in their semi-final second leg.

A typically raucous San Siro atmosphere met the sides as they entered this second leg, and both teams rose to the intensity.

Inter started much like the previous fixture; they pressed aggressively and attacked quickly off turnovers. Meanwhile, Milan had a significantly better time in these opening exchanges than the first leg.

Chasing a deficit, Stefano Pioli’s men signalled their forward intent early on. Theo Hernandez saw a speculative effort fly just over the bar, and Brahim Diaz spurned a golden opportunity to make it 1-0 on the night.

The hosts were not averse to attacking either. For instance, Nicolo Barella, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Lautaro Martinez all had shots that sailed over Mike Maignan’s goal. They tested the Frenchman, too, with Edin Dzeko’s header one of the clearest-cut chances for either team.

But neither Milan side was truly able to find a rhythm throughout a gritty first 45 minutes. Incredibly, the two clubs committed 22 fouls before the interval – with neither team picking up a booking.

The Nerazzurri were the happier camp heading into the break.

Second half

Internazionale and their city rivals were relatively even in the battle for possession. But the hosts looked much more accomplished when they had the ball. Inter, breaking out of their solid defensive setup, were direct and controlled in attack.

By comparison, AC Milan looked disjointed. Their spells in possession rarely resulted in chances; instead, many crosses saw promising situations go to waste. The return of Rafael Leao also did little to boost the Rossoneri’s offensive play as the winger struggled to make an impact.

Inter put this Milan derby semi-final tie to bed just before the 75th minute. Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez were the instigators, linking up in the Milan box. The Belgian then found his strike partner, and Martinez unleashed a low shot that beat Maignan at his near post.

This all but sealed Milan’s fate as they struggled to coordinate sustained attacks. With the Nerazzurri faithful bouncing in the stands, Inter Milan saw out the game to secure their place in the final.

Inter will now prepare to play their first Champions League showpiece since 2010 in Istanbul next month.

Of course, in that match thirteen years ago, the Nerazzurri won their third European Cup. Will they add number four this year? The ultimate test of either Manchester City or Real Madrid awaits.

Featured image credit: Getty