A Nerazzurri Triumph! Inter Claim Milan Derby with Lautaro and Lukaku

Inter have grown up. The Nerazzurri claimed the most important Derby della Madonnina in a decade with a sounding 3-0 over Milan, powered by a Lautaro Martinez brace and a Romelu Lukaku brutal finish. The triumph in the stracittadina puts them four point ahead of the Rossoneri in the Serie A table and in pole position to capture the title.   

In the most important game of the season, Antonio Conte showed that his side has managed to master their weaknesses. The Nerazzurri were concrete, clinical, and kept their head on focus – which they had failed to do many times earlier in the season. 

After going down early in the game, Milan seemed to have weathered Inter’s storm but were punished by the Nerazzurri during their best moment. From then on, it was child’s play for the black-and-blues to wrap their win. Milan were beaten but not humiliated as, all in all, the derby was decided by a few key episodes. 

However, their second campionato loss in a row may take a heavy toll on their morale as the Rossoneri‘s form and condition also seem to be declining. Stefano Pioli needs some new ideas fast or he will risk compromising everything good Milan have done so far. 

Five minutes into the game, Antonio Conte steered the match into his direction as Inter drew first blood from their very first chance. Simon Kjaer neutralized Romelu Lukaku’s pass in the box, but the Belgian didn’t give up and picked up Lautaro Martinez with a perfectly-timed cross. The Argentine had an easy task in sneaking past the two Rossoneri center backs and heading the ball home to set the derby on fire.

Inter built up on their pressure and started to peg the cross-town rivals into their own half. Milan looked scared and nervous and Kjaer had to spend a yellow card to stop a Lautaro breakaway. On 15 minutes, however, they managed to break the Nerazzurri‘s momentum and showed themselves around Samir Handanovic’s area for the first time – though with no effect.

The much-awaited battle between Achraf Hakimi and Theo Hernandez caught fire on 22 minutes as the Moroccan body-checked the French left-back and scored a yellow card in the process.

Milan tried to resort to ball possession to break Inter’s pace, but Conte’s side appeared overly dangerous every time they crossed the midfield line. On 26 minutes, Ivan Perisic broke away on the left flank and whipped in a cross on which Lukaku arrived a split second too late.

The Rossoneri‘s spider web of passes produced a good chance for Theo Hernandez, who failed to hit the target from a favorable spot in the middle of the box. For Inter, Perisic continued to  be lethal from the left side and, on 36 minutes, he tested Gianluigi Donnarumma’s reflexes, with Lautaro Martinez failing to tap in from the Milan keeper’s save.

The last part of the first period saw Milan gaining confidence and getting closer to draw level, though still to no avail. The match seemed well open, even if Inter went close to double their lead with a tricky Milan Skriniar header just before referee Daniele Doveri blew for half time.

The second half opened with a triple masterpiece from Samir Handanovic, who first denied Zlatan Ibrahimovic twice in a row and then also pushed away a Sandro Tonali left-foot effort. Inter’s captain literally saved the Nerazzurri, who were caught by surprise by Milan’s relentless assault.

But  right when the Rossoneri seemed to be in control, Inter’s reaction was sudden and deadly like a snake bite. It all started with an Achraf Hakimi fast break on the right side. The Moroccan sent the ball in for Christian Eriksen, who delivered it to El Toro via Perisic on the opposite flank. The Argentine was served another easy chance to slot the ball home and made no mistake.

Inter smelled blood and went for the KO. Donnarumma managed to deny Lukaku after the Belgian disposed of his marker Kjaer and released a violent but central shot. But the goalie couldn’t do anything on 65 minutes, when Lukaku came up with a devastating run on the left flank and released a screamer that found the right spot into Gigio‘s the near post.

Stefano Pioli pulling out Ibrahimovic on 74 minutes looked like a declaration to surrender. Milan understood that they better avoid conceding any more goals as they were already being punished more than they deserved.

There were more changes on both sides that fragmented the final stages of the game. Nothing more happened, except for an Ante Rebic snapshot denied once again by a monumental Handanovic. It was a Nerazzurri triumph. The view from the top of the table, now four points ahead of the cross-town rivals, must be so beautiful.



February 21, 2021 – Serie A 2020-2021 Round 23

SCORERS: 4′ Lautaro Martinez, 56′ Lautaro Martinez, 65′ Lukaku

MILAN (4-2-3-1): G. Donnarumma; Calabria, Kjaer, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Tonali (66′ Meité), Kessié; Saelemaekers (66′ Rafael Leao), Calhanoglu, Rebic; Ibrahimovic (74′ Castillejo) (Tatarusanu, A. Donnarumma, Kalulu, Diogo Dalot, Tomori, Hauge, Krunic, Gabbia, Brahim Diaz) Coach: Pioli
INTER (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni; Hakimi (82′ Young), Barella (85′ Vidal), Eriksen (77′ Gagliardini), Brozovic, Perisic (77′ Darmian); Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez (77′ Sanchez) (Padelli, Radu, D’Ambrosio, Kolarov, Ranocchia, Vecino, Pinamonti) Coach: Conte

REFEREE: Mr. Doveri from Rome
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Kjaer, Saelemaekers (M), Hakimi (I); Extra Time: 1st Half 1′, 2nd Half 3′