After two dominant and well-deserved wins in the Derby della Madonnina, Inter eliminated city rival AC Milan in the Champions League semifinals and is going to the final for the first time after 13 years.
The atmosphere in the legendary San Siro was heated. Almost the whole stadium (75,000 visitors) was covered with blue, black and white flags. They were part of a huge Inter Milan choreography that showed a crusader wearing a blue cape. The impressive image was accompanied by the Latin words “Victoria Nobis Vita” which means “Victory for us is life.”
After a strong performance in the first leg, which resulted in a 2-0 for Inter Milan, the Nerazzurri had everything in their own hands.
The pressure was on AC Milan’s side who needed a quick comeback. All of Milan’s hopes lay on star player, Rafael Leao, who returned after missing the first leg because of an injury.
The players in the red- and black-striped jerseys started strong and came to their first chances early in the game. But neither Theo’s long-distance shot in the fifth minute nor Brahim Diaz’s 11-yard attempt in the 11th minute found its way in the net.
Other than that AC Milan barely created any chances. Once again, Pioli’s team played too passively and was not able to seriously threaten Inter’s defense.
After the first 15 minutes, Milan’s best phase in both legs, it was Inter who had the better chances. In the 39th minute, a Hakan Calhanoglu freekick found the head of Edin Dzeko who forced AC goalkeeper Mike Maignan to make a big save. The French keeper kept his team in the game but not for long.
In the second half Lautaro Martinez eliminated AC Milan’s last hopes of making it to the Champions League final in Istanbul. The Argentinian striker beat Maignan with a powerful near-post shot in the 73rd minute. Martinez’s goal was enough for Inter to win the fourth Derby against Milan in 2023.
“The difference was obvious,” said disappointed technical director and AC club legend Paolo Maldini after the game.
Milan’s season could not have ended worse. They don’t have any title chances and in the Serie A they are currently ranked fifth, which qualifies them only for the Europa League next season.
While half of the city cried bitter tears, the other half celebrated the huge success of their team. The Nerazzurri played a more than successful season. On Wednesday they celebrated the win of the Coppa Italia trophy and now want to top off their season with the 2nd cup in the Champions League final.
The development Inter took since coach Simone Inzaghi took over the head coach position in June of 2021 is impressive. Since 2011, Inter hadn’t made it to a Champions League round of 16, but Inzaghi achieved exactly that in his first season as Inter head coach.
“I was very satisfied with last year’s Champions League season, but this season is even better,” said Inzaghi.
After Mourinho’s triple success in the season 2009/10 (Serie A, Coppa Italia, and Champions League titles), Inzaghi has now the chance to bring back the desired Champions League trophy to Milan.
On June 10, the Nerazzurri will face Manchester City in Istanbul. Manchester City already won the Premier League title and rolled over Real Madrid in the second leg of the semifinals. Inter Milan will be the clear underdog in the final, but after their strong semifinal performances it also has realistic chances to win the trophy.