Inter win pulsating Milan derby to get Champions League push back on track

Aditya Devavrat 07:47 18/03/2019
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Inter Milan won a thrilling Milan derby.

Inter Milan came out on top in a thrilling Milan derby on Sunday, winning 3-2 against AC Milan to go back above their rivals in the Serie A table and into third place.

Mattias Vecino, Stefan de Vrij and Lautaro Martinez got the goals for Inter, who twice had two-goal leads but were pegged back by Milan through goals from the much-improved Tiemoue Bakayoko and Mateo Musacchio.

Here are the talking points from a pulsating encounter at the San Siro.


In the last two seasons, the Milan derby has been dominated by Mauro Icardi, who’s scored a hat-trick in a 3-2 win, a performance that included an injury-time winner, and then scored another stoppage-time winner in a 1-0 win.

And Inter had dropped five points in the four league games without their star striker since exiling him over a contract dispute and public remarks by his agent and wife, Wanda Nara.

So there’s no doubt that the shadow of Icardi loomed large over this game. Milan must have felt they had an advantage with the Inter talisman missing, while the away side would have been forgiven for wondering how keenly Icardi’s absence would be felt.

To produce this performance, and this result, without him, is huge for Inter. They were under pressure having fallen behind their city rivals in the league table, and the general perception around the Nerazzuri, who were also knocked out of the Europa League in midweek, was of a side in the midst of crisis.

Winning the derby should put that talk to bed. Momentum is now back with Luciano Spalletti’s side, who should approach the rest of the season with much more confidence.


Krzysztof Piatek’s start to life in Milan colours, scoring eight goals in his first nine games since his January move from Genoa, had people excited at the prospect of seeing the young Polish striker let loose on a low-on-confidence Inter side.

So the 23-year-old’s lacklustre display will be greeted with disappointment not just by Milan fans, but by most neutrals keen to see what he would do in effectively the biggest game of his career so far.

In the wake of Sunday’s performance, there may be some who rush to criticise, but that would be unfair. This is still a 23-year-old playing his first season in Italy.

He earned his move to Milan by scoring 13 goals in 19 games for Genoa, he’s still a legitimate contender for this season’s top scorer award – anyone who can keep stride with Cristiano Ronaldo deserves credit – and, with the right management and backing, he’s only going to get better.

Piatek himself will no doubt be disappointed about not having a bigger impact in his first Milan derby, but he’ll have come away from the game determined to improve.

He was up against a solid, rugged defence on Sunday, and that in itself will have been a lesson for him. The learning curve can be steep sometimes, but expect Piatek to keep up.


As far as Milan derbies go, this was a classic. It had everything: five goals, a penalty, a red card – though one overturned by VAR, which had a good night – a 96th-minute goal-line block, and a game which in general saw full-blooded, committed performances from just about everyone on the pitch.

Even the referee nearly injured himself trying to keep up with the play at one point.

This game should also lay down a marker for the rest of Italy that both Milan clubs are on their way back. Whether they’re ready to challenge Juventus for the Serie A crown next year remains to be seen, simply because Juve have been too good for the last eight seasons and put considerable distance between themselves and the rest of the league. And they still have Cristiano Ronaldo.

In the meantime, with Roma losing this weekend, Milan may not feel the sting of this loss, at least in the larger picture, for too long, as they remain four points ahead of their nearest challenger for a Champions League place. Inter, meanwhile, now have a six-point lead over the Giallorossi.

The last time both Milan clubs finished in the top four was in 2010/11. It’s been a long time coming.

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