The most anticipated match of the round had a clear winner, as Inter came out on top with a two-nil result, but it was still pretty intense and entertaining.
The Nerazzurri came into the game having won the three previous matches against Lecce, Cagliari and Udinese, but had to bounce back from lackadaisical and costly performance in Champions League against Slavia Prague. Milan had scraped by Verona and Brescia in the last two. Antonio Conte kept Antonio Candreva on the bench since he suffered a knock in the most recent fixture, picking Danilo D’Ambrosio to man right flank, while the rest of the XI was the standard one, with Lautaro Martinez partnering Romelu Lukaku up front and Nicolò Barella in the midfield. Marco Giampaolo changed his selection again as he fielded Rafael Leao up front, next to Krzysztof Piatek and Suso, while Andrea Conti filled in for the suspended Davide Calabria at right back. Lucas Paqueta and Ismael Bennacer were again left on the bench.
The Devil had a scare ten minutes into the game as Ricardo Rodriguez had a poor backwards pass that Martinez almost managed to nudge home with a slide before it got to Gianluigi Donnarumma. Seven minutes later, Lukaku wiggled free past the back-line but the goalie slapped away his cross-shot. The young prodigy also batted away a surefire attempt by Martinez from close range, then D’Ambrosio hit the post on the tap-in. The fullback then pulled off an overhead kick, again saved by Donnarumma, where Martinez scored on the rebound, but it was ruled an offside.
Milan finally managed to create a chance at the 40th minute as Suso went almost the length of the pitch on a counter, but his shot got thwarted by Kwadwo Asamoah and he probably should have passed to a better-positioned teammate. Moments later, Leao sent in a good cross after bamboozling D’Ambrosio, but Piatek misaimed his header and put it over the bar.
Just as the opponents were getting into a groove, Inter broke the deadlock after half time, as Marcelo Brozovic was allowed to shoot freely from the edge of the box and a big deflection by Leao wrong-footed Donnarumma.
The Rossoneri did not really manage to respond and the Beneamata continued to bomb away and broke through again with 13 minutes to go as Barella found Lukaku with a soft delivery and the Belgian striker knocked it on goal with a well-directed header on the far post.
In the last ten minutes, Matteo Politano rattled the crossbar on an attempt from distance and another sub, Theo Hernandez, barged his way into the Inter’s box but struck the woodwork from improbable position. Candreva almost made it three-nothing in the stoppage time, but his rerouted effort hit the base of the post as well.
In the fantasy game, Samir Handanovic collected seven points thank to the clean sheet, which gave five also to the whole rearguard but D’Ambrosio, who was booked, and allowed the midfielders to tack on two to their tallies. Brozovic corralled six for scoring, Stefano Sensi and Barella four thanks to their assists. No point-getters for the Rossoneri and Hernandez, Ante Rebic, Mateo Musacchio and Alessio Romagnoli were docked one due to yellow guards, Donnarumma and Conti two.
Inter stay top of the league heading into the midweek round, where they will square off against Lazio, while Milan, who now have a 2-2 record and squarely in the middle of the table, are left with more questions than answers as they will travel to Turin to face the Granata on Thursday.
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