Inter dominate the Derby della Madonnina 3-0 and go four points clear of rivals Milan, with a Lautaro Martinez brace, Romelu Lukaku, but also crucial Samir Handanovic saves.
This was the first time since April 2011 that the Milan Derby was played with both clubs in the top two, as last week the Nerazzurri made the most of Milan’s loss at Spezia to take the leadership by one point. These sides also met last month in an ill-tempered Coppa Italia quarter-final, which saw Zlatan Ibrahimovic sent off and Christian Eriksen score a last-gasp winner.
Ismael Bennacer and Mario Mandzukic were out of action for the Rossoneri, while Stefano Sensi was injured and Arturo Vidal not fully fit. There was a minute’s silence before kick-off and Inter wore black armbands for Mauro Bellugi, the former player who died yesterday after months of COVID complications.
It took under five minutes to break the deadlock, as Romelu Lukaku broke down the right, his assist for Lautaro Martinez was crucially intercepted by Simon Kjaer. However, the move continued and the Belgian floated a cross for Lautaro’s header between the centre-backs from six yards.
After a period of Inter pressure, the Rossoneri came out of their shells, Ibrahimovic’s back-heel caught on the line by Samir Handanovic following a mad scramble.
Lukaku was inches away from tapping in an Ivan Perisic ball across the six-yard box, then Kjaer made a decisive interception on another Perisic assist for Lukaku.
Theo Hernandez’s scuffed effort from 12 yards with his weaker right foot skimmed the far post with Handanovic stranded, while Gianluigi Donnarumma got down for a one-handed save on Perisic at the near post, Lautaro bundling the rebound over, and Ibrahimovic’s volley tested Handanovic.
Just before the break, Hakan Calhanoglu failed to make the most of an Ibrahimovic assist, neither shooting nor accurately setting up Ante Rebic, then Milan Skriniar’s header skimmed the bar on an Eriksen free kick.
Straight after the restart, Milan had three massive opportunities to equalise and were denied by three world class Handanovic saves.
The first was an acrobatic Ibrahimovic diving header on a corner, the second part of the same move from point-blank range on another Ibra header at the back post, then moments later he flew to push Sandro Tonali’s effort out from under the bar.
However, just as Milan were pinning Inter back, they conceded against the run of play. It was a well-worked goal, going from Hakimi down the right to Eriksen, Perisic and the pull-back from the left for Lautaro Martinez to tap in from six yards.
Milan continued to pour forward and were exposed on the counter by Lukaku, forcing a tough Donnarumma save, then conceded the third when Lukaku gathered in the centre-circle, sprinted through the centre and beat Donnarumma at the near post.
The Belgian becomes the first man to score in four consecutive Serie A derbies since Romeo Benetti in 1972-73, and the first Inter player to achieve it since Benito Lorenzi in 1950.
Nicolò Barella went off clutching his hamstring after over-stretching in the final minutes. Handanovic refused to give Milan even a consolation, fingertipping a Rebic daisy-cutter round the base of the far post and smothering the Soualiho Meite strike.
See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with Eurotips.co.uk