Fans of the UEFA Champions League had the treat of a Derby della Madonnina in the semifinal stage. Every matchup between the two Milan clubs delivers some kind of story. Yet, few could have predicted the first half of this two-legged tie.
It took all of 11 minutes for Inter Milan to stun the San Siro donned in black and red. While it was Milan’s home leg of the tie, Inter was the club to come out firing. It would go on to protect that lead over the next 80 minutes, even though the chances split fairly evenly between the two.
The second leg at the same stadium will be a home game for Inter. That game, scheduled for Tuesday, May 16 at 3 p.m. ET, will be for a trip to the Champions League Final. There, the Italian club to advance will play either Manchester City or Real Madrid.
Inter stuns Milan in first 45 of semifinal
Edin Džeko needed all of seven minutes to deliver a dream start for Inter Milan. The big Bosnian was relatively free on a corner, and the ball found him waist-high. Džeko threw his left foot out at the ball and struck it sweetly to beat Mike Maignan in the Milan net. To be fair, though, there was little chance for the Frenchman.
There was also little chance for him on Inter’s second goal just four minutes later. Henrikh Mkhitaryan cleverly called off a teammate on a pass from Federico Dimarco. From then, the Armenian was alone on goal with Maignan. Mkhitaryan powered the ball over the sliding goalkeeper, and he added a valuable second for the visitors.
The onrushing Inter did not stop after its two-goal lead. Four minutes after achieving a two-goal lead, Hakan Çalhanoğlu hit a peach of a strike from 25 yards that swerved away from Maignan. Fortunately for Milan, the ball clamored off the inside of the post and went wide. Then, Inter briefly won a penalty not long after. Upon VAR review, the video showed Lautaro Martinez went down too easily after the challenge from Simon Kjaer. The game entered the interval at that 2-0 scoreline.
Neither side scores in second half
At the least, Milan had a better second half than it did in the first half. From the start, Milan put together its two best chances of the game in the first seven minutes of the second half. Unfortunately, neither went on the net of Andre Onana. In fact, it was Inter that had the better scoring chances. Edin Dzeko was in again after abysmal defending from Milan. However, fantastic goalkeeping from Maignan denied the Bosnian this time.
The best chance for Milan was a great one. Sandro Tonali fired a shot on the edge of the area after a layoff from Olivier Giroud. A helpless Onana watched the ball glance off the outside of the post and go out for a goal kick.
Inter had done enough to get itself a big cushion for its home leg of the semifinal against Milan. However, the second-half performance will at least give Milan a boost. Plus, the return of Rafael Leao, whose pace was sorely missed by the hosts tonight, is something to look forward to. The Portuguese was out of this game with an injury.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Gruppo LiveMedia
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