Inter destroyed Milan’s Scudetto hopes with a controversial and spectacular 4-2 victory in the Derby della Madonnina!
The Rossoneri closed the gap to just one point midweek and absolutely had to beat their rivals to keep that title race alive into the final round. It was also a huge occasion for the Nerazzurri, as Andrea Stramaccioni fought for his job, city pride and a place in Europe. It was also Ivan Ramiro Cordoba’s chance to say goodbye to San Siro after 13 years and he embraced each of his teammates before kick-off.
Milan’s injury list included Thiago Silva, Clarence Seedorf, Luca Antonini, Alexandre Pato, Pippo Inzaghi and Gianluca Zambrotta. Kevin-Prince Boateng and Robinho pushed Antonio Cassano on to the bench while Sulley Muntari faced his former teammates. Inter missed Diego Forlan, Andrea Poli, Luc Castaignos, Dejan Stankovic and Cristian Chivu, but Javier Zanetti returned to the starting XI after his injury, meaning he hasn’t missed a Milan derby since 1997.
News filtered through after five minutes that Juventus had taken the lead in Trieste. Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a great chance to break through on 11 minutes, but flicked the Robinho cross with the outside of his boot and it sailed over from six yards.
Inter took the lead when Wesley Sneijder flicked a free kick to Walter Samuel, who got away from Daniele Bonera, and pulled it back across for Diego Milito to tap in undisturbed. The Rossoneri defenders seemed to wait around for an offside flag that never came, as Bonera was keeping them all in play.
Fredy Guarin unleashed a screamer that flew wide of the far post. There was a bizarre moment when the ball went out of play and Robinho got into a row with the Inter physio, who tried to delay putting it back on to the pitch.
Inter thought they had doubled their lead when Sneijder’s blockbuster stung Christian Abbiati’s palms and Lucio put the follow-up into the net, but the defender was clearly offside. Bonera joined the injury list with a calf problem, making way for teenager Mattia De Sciglio.
Douglas Maicon had a risky backpass to Julio Cesar with De Sciglio hovering, while the goalkeeper later smothered a Mark Van Bommel daisy-cutter.
There was chaos in the Milan box on 32 minutes when Abbiati flapped an Esteban Cambiasso header away – perhaps with it crossing the line completely – and then needed a follow-up save on Sneijder at the base of the near post. In performing these acrobatics, the goalkeeper gave himself a thigh strain and had to be replaced by Marco Amelia.
Ibrahimovic held off two defenders to shoot at the near post and Julio Cesar threw himself at his feet to smother from point-blank range.
Julio Cesar also rushed off his line to take the ball off Boateng’s foot when he sprung the offside trap from an Antonio Nocerino through ball. The referee pointed to the spot, but the replays clearly show the goalkeeper got the ball, making his furious protests entirely understandable. Ibrahimovic stepped up against his former club and Julio Cesar tried to put him off with some mocking comments to his face, but the Swede buried it into the near bottom corner. After scoring, Ibra replied: ‘I told you.’
It took all of 40 seconds for Milan to go in front after the restart. The Inter defence was taken by surprise, as Ibrahimovic flicked on a pass to go between two defenders and placed a snooker shot in off the far post.
Sneijder tried an audacious lob from the halfway line that almost surprised Amelia, but the goalkeeper palmed it on to the upright. From the corner Samuel appeared to be brought down by a combination of Muntari and Mario Yepes, but the referee waved play on.
Moments later Inter did indeed get their penalty, as Ignazio Abate clearly pulled back Milito. El Principe stepped up and buried it to make the derby 2-2, getting the Nerazzurri back on level terms.
Muntari looked ready to equalise when Ibra knocked down a corner, but he only prodded it inches wide with his knee from two yards!
Robinho forced Julio Cesar to beat away at the base of the near post, then Yepes nodded wide from a Boateng cross. Robinho blasted over and Muntari hit the side-netting from an improbable angle.
Julio Cesar palmed an Abate snapshot out from under the bar and at the other end Amelia plucked a dangerous Sneijder strike out of the air.
The referee awarded another penalty for an Alessandro Nesta handling offence, though it seemed as if Giampaolo Pazzini nodded it on to his arm from close range. The arm was still raised, so the referee pointed to the spot and Milito fired under the bar to complete his hat-trick.
Milan had penalty appeals for a Cambiasso handling offence, but the referee judged it to be off his chest. Ivan Cordoba was also given a run-out for his San Siro swansong.
Douglas Maicon put the derby and the Scudetto race beyond doubt with Inter’s fourth goal, hitting an unstoppable strike from distance that left Amelia rooted to the spot. It was a missile into the far top corner.