Diego Milito has given Inter the Derby della Madonnina victory and put them right back in the Scudetto race!
The derby is always a huge game and rarely more than on this occasion. The Rossoneri needed a result to keep up with leaders Juventus, while the Nerazzurri could burst back into the Scudetto race with a victory. Both were on fine form, Milan unbeaten in 12 Serie A games and Inter with five wins on the bounce. Alexandre Pato was thrown into the starting XI just days after he rejected a move to PSG, while Kevin-Prince Boateng went deeper to make way for Urby Emanuelson as Alberto Aquilani, Gennaro Gattuso, Antonio Cassano, Mathieu Flamini and Taye Taiwo were out. Inter missed Dejan Stankovic and Africa Cup of Nations man Sulley Muntari, while Wesley Sneijder was back on the bench for the first time since November 2.
Thiago Motta nodded in after five minutes, but the goal was flagged offside for his two teammates Walter Samuel and Lucio.
Julio Cesar smothered a Zlatan Ibrahimovic snapshot at the near post, while Boateng’s deflected volley was followed up over the bar by Pato. The Inter goalkeeper was somewhat nervous on a Yuto Nagatomo backpass and fumbled a corner off Thiago Silva’s head.
A corner found Boateng unmarked only to balloon over the bar, but Alessandro Nesta had to intercept a smart one-two from Douglas Maicon in the box. At the other end, Samuel did the same as Pato pulled back for Emanuelson.
Ibrahimovic attempted an audacious scorpion flick with his back leg that landed on the roof of the net.
Inter had a great chance on 40 minutes, as Nagatomo’s cross found Ricky Alvarez unmarked, but the young Argentine hesitated and aimed a weak effort at the on-rushing Christian Abbiati’s legs from six yards.
Milan went even closer when Mark Van Bommel passed it on to the crossbar from the edge of the box, then as the move continued Julio Cesar turned Emanuelson’s volley off the line.
Inter broke the deadlock after the restart. Ignazio Abate’s slip allowed Javier Zanetti’s cross-field pass to reach Diego Milito, whose precise angled drive went in off the far post. El Principe found the net for the third game on the trot.
Nagatomo’s screamer from 30 metres took a deflection to whizz just past the upright, while Julio Cesar flapped an Ibra chipped pass off the head of Pato.
Robinho replaced Gianluca Zambrotta for a trident attack, moving Emanuelson to full-back, while Cristian Chivu came on for Alvarez. Sneijder also made his comeback after two and a half months.
Ibra’s pull-back was turned back across by Antonio Nocerino, but Pato’s first touch was heavy and allowed Julio Cesar to smother from point-blank range.
Clarence Seedorf also came off the bench and his blockbuster from distance that Julio Cesar flew to palm away. Robinho then burst through the Inter defence only to fire straight at the goalkeeper at the near post.
The final stages were a siege on the Nerazzurri area, but Ranieri’s men held firm.