Milan have it all to do in defeat to great rivals Inter

Published on 11 May 2023 at 20:00

Edin Dzeko and Henrikh Mkhitaryan put Inter firmly in the driving seat in the all Italian Champions League semi-final. Many had Inter as slight favourites before the game, and this proved the case as two early goals made the difference here. Inter allowed Milan more of the ball during the game, however had greater potency in front of goal. This was the first Champions League derby between the pair since 2005, with Milan emerging the victors on that occasion as they made the road to Istanbul. The June showpiece final is back in Istanbul once again, as it was in 2005, yet the disparity in quality between Milan then and now is glaring.

How Milan will have wished they made a brighter start here. The game was effectively dead after eleven minutes. After a host of missed Inter chances and a controversial VAR decision, Milan may have a slim hope of progression, but they have it all to do. Inter bullied their great rivals. Inter had purpose, drive and initiative from the first moment, whilst Milan seemed to freeze on the big stage.

After racing into a two-goal lead, Inter hit the woodwork as Milan were often exposed. Before the game could develop Inter were comfortable, the two early goals clinical finishes from the three-timeUCL winners. They arguably should have been further ahead after the controversial VAR decision. Lautaro Martinez was fouled in the area and the initial decision was overturned following an inquest. Many viewers and pundits questioned the call, which was highly debatable. On this evidence a 3-0 lead would have been game over in the tie.

Ex-Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand stated: “Inter came out like sprinters at the Olympics and AC Milan had stage fright”. The second period didn’t bring a worthy response from Milan. The seven-time winners of this competition huffed and puffed, but they had little effect. Inter were unbothered by any advances Milan made, the ‘away’ side in the San Siro were definitive in the big moments of the night. Only one team in UCL semi-final history have won the first leg by two or more goals and failed to proceed – Barcelona, famously defeated 4-0 at Anfield by Liverpool following a 3-0 win in Spain four years ago.

Despite the two-goal advantage, Inter know their place in a first UCL final since 2010 isn’t quite secure yet. The San Siro will be prepared for another bout between these two giants of the game, and whoever advances to the final in Turkey will feel anything is possible in a one-off game against the might of Manchester City or Real Madrid. Milan have made it difficult, but in Europe with the atmosphere bubbling, anything is always possible.


George Soper


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