AC Milan v Inter match review & reactions
Last night the derby didn’t go according to plan for the Nerazzurri, the match started badly when straight from the kick off Inter were caught sleeping as Milan flew out of the starting blocks and Pato hit the back of the net in just 45 seconds. After that Inter took about 30 minutes to start looking like they could reply but it wasn’t meant to be as in the second half Chivu got a red card after which Milan seemed to run rings around Inter which was shown when Pato netted his second, the kick in the teeth really came on 88 minutes when Zanetti gave away a penalty that Cassano put away finishing the game 3-0. All in all it was a terrible match for Inter with Sneijder & Eto’o hardly affecting the game, there were two positives though firstly Julio Cesar had a great game and was Inter’s man of the match for me as if it wasn’t for him it could have easily been 6-0 to Milan. The second is that the Guiseppe Meazza pitch looked much better after being returfed.
This was Inter skipper Javier Zanetti’s 35th consecutive Milan derby, and the first as a black-and-blue for Leonardo, Pazzini and Ranocchia. AC Milan v Inter was the big match in Week 31 of Serie A 2010/11 but it was more than just a six-pointer at the top of the table: this fixture is the meeting of two great histories and of many, many emotions. 80,000 people crammed into the Stadio Meazza but unfortunately this evening the emotions were greater for Rossoneri fans
FIRST HALF –
Lucio was ruled out of the game through suspension so Leonardo went for a central defensive pairing of Ranocchia and Chivu, and played captain Zanetti and Maicon in the full-back berths. Pazzini spearheaded the attack with Pandev, Sneijder and Eto’o in support. The Rossoneri, who had Ibrahimovic suspended, started with Robinho and Pato up front.
The match began in the worst possible way for Inter, as AC Milan took the lead after just 47 seconds. Pato began the move on the edge of the box: he laid off to Gattuso, whose pass put Robinho in with a shooting opportunity; Julio Cesar came out to block the shot but the rebound fell for Pato to fire home. For Inter, Pandev was the first to line up a shot down the other end, on 6 minutes, when his long-range effort was smothered by Abbiati. Milan soon threatened again themselves when Pato’s cross curled just too far ahead of Robinho (8 minutes). A minute later the Rossoneri had a penalty appeal turned down, after Seedorf’s venomous volley hit Maicon’s hand – the Brazilian accused of spreading his arms.
Sneijder was disturbed by laser beams as he waited to take his 30-yard free kick after Zambrotta had brought down Pandev, and the Dutchman’s attempt to catch Abbiati out sailed over the bar. Inter’s first real chance came in the 19th minute: Pandev played in Pazzini, who squeezed his way through two defenders and poked a shot towards goal, forcing Abbiati to make a great reflex save.
AC Milan turned the pressure up once more with a long-range drive from Zambrotta (25 mins), before Pato twice threatened again but was denied by Ranocchia (25) and Zanetti (27). Julio Cesar’s goal shook on 37 minutes, after Van Bommel’s 35-yard piledriver took a deflection off Chivu and came back off the bar. Soon after Thiago Motta thought he had scored when he nodded goalwards from Sneijder’s corner: Abbiati looked to be behind the goalline when he clawed away with two hands but the ball probably didn’t cross the line. If that wasn’t an equaliser, Inter should have found one 2 minutes before the break: Pandev’s cross flicked on by Cambiasso landed for Eto’o at the far post, yet, only yards out and with just the keeper to beat, he dragged his shot wide. No added time was played and the Nerazzurri went in a goal behind.
SECOND HALF –
The same 22 players came out after the interval, but Gattuso was forced off with a muscle injury 6 minutes into the half, Flamini coming on to replace him.
Another key moment in the match came in the 54th minute when Chivu was sent off for clipping Pato from behind as the last man. From the resulting free kick, Julio Cesar was well placed to parry a fierce strike from Thiago Silva (56 mins), but could do nothing to stop Pato making it 2-0: Seedorf found Abate in space on the right and the Rossoneri full-back hit an angled cross towards the back post where Pato was on hand to double the Rossoneri’s lead. That prompted Leonardo to bring on Milito for Pazzini but Julio Cesar remained Inter’s busiest man, denying Robinho from close range. Stankovic was brought on after 71 minutes yet it was the ‘home’ side that continued to pile on the pressure; Cordoba saved the day as he prevented Robinho, who had been one-on-one with Julio Cesar, from scoring. The Brazilian duel continued in the 77th minute, with the keeper sticking out a foot to block an angled shot and further frustrate the ex-Man City player. With one minute of normal time remaining Zanetti’s foul on Cassano inside the box gave the second-half substitute the chance to score from the spot, which he did to make it 3-0. However, he was booked for taking his shirt off in celebration, which in hindsight wasn’t a wise move because he picked up a second yellow for a high challenge almost immediately afterwards, meaning he had to leave the pitch 11 minutes after coming on. After 3 minutes of stoppage time, Rizzoli blew an end to the derby, with the honours going to the Rossoneri this time.
AC Milan 3-0 Inter (HT: 1-0)
Scorers: Pato 1, Pato 62, Cassano 89 (pen).
AC Milan: 1 Abbiati; 20 Abate, 13 Nesta, 33 Thiago Silva, 19 Zambrotta; 8 Gattuso (16 Flamini, 51), 4 Van Bommel, 10 Seedorf; 27 Boateng; 70 Robinho (99 Cassano, 80), 7 Pato (18 Emanuelson, 84).
Subs: 12 Amelia, 15 Papastathopoulos, 76 Yepes, 77 Antonini.
Coach: Massimiliano Allegri.
Inter: 1 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 15 Ranocchia, 26 Chivu, 4 Zanetti; 8 Thiago Motta, 19 Cambiasso (5 Stankovic, 71); 27 Pandev (2 Cordoba, 54), 10 Sneijder, 9 Eto’o; 10 Pazzini (22 Milito, 62)
Subs: 12 Castellazzi, 14 Kharja, 23 Materazzi, 55 Nagatomo.
Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (Bologna).
Booked: Robinho 26, Maicon 41, Van Bommel 53, Zambrotta 65, Zanetti 88, Cassano 90.
Sent off: Chivu 54, Cassano 90+2.
Added time: 0+3 mins.
“I don’t consider it a surrender, even if five points are a lot,” said Leonardo as he commented on the defeat against AC Milan. “The match was conditioned by the goal in the 1st minute. It upset the tactics of the game and conditioned us psychologically. If just one of those two chances we had at the end of the first half had gone in, we would have come out after half time with a different attitude; then after ten minutes of the second half came the sending-off which made it all more difficult, even if AC Milan deserved it, too. We didn’t manage to get into our stride, going one nil down in the first minute put us off our game.
“In theory we had the right formation to make up the goal we conceded, but the other episodes near the end of the first half wouldn’t let us. However, I repeat, the battle for the Scudetto is by no means over, although 5 points out of a possible 21 won’t be easy to make up. It’ll be a fight to the finish because Napoli and Udinese are involved too. The team is mature enough not to worry too much about today’s match.
“The referee’s decisions? I’m not going to talk about those. Whether Gattuso insulted me? I didn’t see it. What did he say? I don’t know. Anyway no one killed anyone else today. They showed their opinion of me and expressed a feeling. I respect that, although I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong.”
Leonardo was asked about how the AC Milan fans reacted to him: “I’ve already said this. I respect everyone’s feelings, but I know what I’ve been through and what I’m going through now. I heard and I saw, but I respect their feelings,” he added.
“We weren’t able to set our forwards off and had difficulty creating spaces. We weren’t able to make many chances even if we could have at the end of the first half. Pato? I know him well, I wasn’t surprised at all. Anyway even if it was an important game to lose, I’m not too disappointed. There’s still a long way to go, and let’s not forget that on Tuesday we have a quarter-final tie in the Champions League waiting for us,” he said.
Javier Zanetti is the first of the Nerazzurri to appear on Inter Channel to analyse the defeat against AC Milan: “I don’t know what anyone else thinks, but I know what we think. It’s true, we could have done without losing tonight, but we have to look ahead. There are still seven matches to play this season, we’re in the quarter-finals of the Champions League and in the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia. That’s football, and “bravo” to Cassano for diving in the area.
“We had a few chances to equalise, especially in the first half. AC Milan defended well in the second half and after Chivu was sent off things became more complicated. They held onto the ball well and kept their lead and that’s why we didn’t score. No one likes to lose a match like this, we’re all disappointed, but as I said, we must look ahead.”
“We feel a bit disappointed about losing, but that’s football. We had been making up ground on the leaders in the league until now, but today it all went wrong.” It was Andrea Ranocchia’s first derby for Inter and unfortunately things didn’t go the way he had hoped. “It was a great match,” said the defender. “Unfortunately it didn’t go our way, but it isn’t all over yet. Last year Inter won everything there was to win and we can’t back down now.”
Then Ranocchia reassured viewers about the condition of his knee: “It’s improving. The medical staff have reassured me and I’m going ahead. These ten days of therapy and rest have done me a lot of good.”
So that was the derby and it really didn’t go to plan for us but we’re still in the running for the Scudetto, it’s going to be hard to make up the 5 point difference in the remaining matches but with a little bit of luck it can happen. All focus must now be on the Champions League quarter finals on Tuesday against Shalke and something really needs to be done about our inconsistent defending, hurry up back Walter Samuel we need you, at least we’ve got Lucio back for Tuesday