Inter emerged with an extraordinary 3-2 victory over rivals Milan to leapfrog them into third place in a dramatic, chaotic, passionate Derby della Madonnina.
The Rossoneri went into the 170th Derby della Madonnina one point ahead of their rivals and on a run of five consecutive Serie A victories, with practically a full squad to choose from. On the other hand, the Nerazzurri were in crisis, with Mauro Icardi refusing to train since February 13 despite being told there was no knee injury, Radja Nainggolan, Joao Mario and Joao Miranda out of action. They were also fresh from Thursday’s Europa League exit to Eintracht Frankfurt.
Inter had an aggressive start, particularly down the right flank, and that is where the opening goal came from just three minutes in. Lautaro Martinez at the back post knocked down a long Ivan Perisic cross and Matias Vecino was ready to volley in unmarked from four yards.
Milan fought back, a ferocious long-range Lucas Paqueta screamer stinging Samir Handanovic’s gloves, but Inter were aggressive and Davide Calabria needed a last-ditch interception to stop Danilo D’Ambrosio’s pull-back reaching Lautaro Martinez.
Paqueta steered a towering header just wide and Handanovic parried a Hakan Calhanoglu daisy-cutter, but Vecino should’ve made it 2-0 when sliding in to fire over a Perisic assist from 12 yards.
Milan Skriniar was allowed a free header from a corner, but glanced it wide of the far stick. The Rossoneri threatened from a Calhanoglu free kick, as Perisic’s deflection flashed across the face of goal.
Gennaro Gattuso introduced Samu Castillejo for a tiring Paqueta at half-time, but Inter remained aggressive and Roberto Gagliardini’s swerving cross-shot was flapped away by Gianluigi Donnarumma, then Mateo Musacchio did all he could to stop Lautaro Martinez finishing off a counter-attack.
The pressure paid off here too, as a short corner found Stefan de Vrij for another free header that looped into the far top corner.
However, Milan got back into it with their own set play, as Calhanoglu floated in a free kick for Tiemoue Bakayoko’s header under the bar from 10 yards.
Immediately, Gattuso introduced striker Patrick Cutrone for full-back Ricardo Rodriguez to mount an even stronger comeback, but Donnarumma flew to fingertip away a Skriniar header, then Politano was tripped just inside the box by Castillejo. Donnarumma guessed the right angle, but Lautaro Martinez hit the penalty too hard to be stopped.
Within a few minutes of Inter going 3-1 up, Milan were back in it again, as Calhanoglu’s free kick bounced off D’Ambrosio, Handanovic did all he could to prevent an own goal, but Mateo Musacchio smashed in the rebound from close range.
It was now wide open, with Handanovic rushes out to intercept a Calhanoglu pass to Cutrone, being caught out and needing De Vrij to prevent Piatek pouncing. There was even a bizarre incident on the Milan bench, where Kessie had to be held back from physically attacking his own teammate Lucas Biglia.
The chaos continued on the pitch, where Andrea Conti was shown a straight red card for his high and reckless foul on Lautaro Martinez, but after viewing it again on VAR, the referee changed his mind and it was only a yellow. This infuriated Spalletti so much that the Inter Coach was sent off for dissent instead.
It was end to end stuff and in stoppages Handanovic made an extraordinary reaction save on Castillejo’s header at the back post, then D’Ambrosio made a goal-line clearance to stop Cutrone firing in at the base of the back post at the 95th minute.
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