(Match Report) Inter shrug off AC Milan challenge to qualify for Champions League final

May 17th, 2023 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Inter will face either Manchester City or Real Madrid in the Champions League Final after their fourth consecutive victory against rivals Milan, this time decided by Lautaro Martinez.

The Rossoneri had a mountain to climb after losing the first leg 2-0, but had Rafael Leao back in the side from a muscular injury, though they missed Ismael Bennacer, Rade Krunic and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Malick Thiaw and Junior Messias were preferred to Simon Kjaer and Alexis Saelemaekers. The Nerazzurri were on a roll of seven straight wins in all competition and only Milan Skriniar not fit, so chose the same XI that started last week.

Theo Hernandez unleashed a sudden snapshot from over 30 metres out that dipped viciously just over the bar with Andre Onana rooted to the spot.

Onana also misread a cross that Olivier Giroud nodded back from the by-line for a Sandro Tonali tap-in, until Matteo Darmian cleared practically off the line.

The goalkeeper smothered a Brahim Diaz finish on the Tonali pull-back, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan fired over from the edge of the area. Mike Maignan made a sensational one-handed save on Nicolò Barella only after the offside flag had gone up.

Rafael Leao shrugged off Darmian and Francesco Acerbi for an angled drive that skimmed the base of the far post on 38 minutes.

Moments later, Inter had a huge opportunity when Dzeko redirected the Hakan Calhanoglu free kick from point-blank range, pulling an astonishing reaction save out of Maignan, parrying with his wrist.

Lautaro Martinez also fired over from the edge of the area, but Inter lost Mkhitaryan to injury just before half-time.

The second half was even more physical, with Francesco Acerbi seeming to intentionally stamp on Tonali’s foot, while Malick Thiaw went off with cramp.

Inter took the lead and went 3-0 up on aggregate, as substitute Romelu Lukaku managed to get a pass through for Lautaro Martinez, who sprung the offside trap and smashed it past Maignan at the near post from eight yards.

Giroud’s glancing header went wide and Maignan off his line fingertipped a Lautaro Martinez effort over the bar.

In stoppages, Maignan parried a Lukaku shot through a defender’s legs, Alessandro Bastoni turning the rebound over.

It was a fourth consecutive victory in the Derby della Madonnina this season between Serie A, the Supercoppa Italiana and Champions League.

Photo Credit: ChampionsLeague/Twitter

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