Inter Milan: Derby Victory Puts Nerazzurri Back in Title Race

Nate KahnContributor IIIJanuary 16, 2012

MILAN, ITALY - JANUARY 15:  Yuto Nagatomo #55, Esteban Cambiasso #19, Lucio #6 of FC Internazionale Milano and team-mates celebrate during the Serie A match between AC Milan and FC Internazionale Milano at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on January 15, 2012 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Diego Milito’s goal gave Inter a vital win over their city rivals Sunday. 

The goal came in the 54th minute after Javier Zanetti played a pass to the left in search of Milito.  AC Milan defender Ignazio Abate tried to cut off the pass, but missed the ball, leaving Milito one-on-one with only goalkeeper Christian Abbiati to beat. 

Milito tucked the ball in nicely to the far post to give Inter the lead.  The goal would hold up as the only one of the match. 

With Inter’s victory and Juventus drawing against Cagliari, the Nerazzurri are just six points off the top of the table.

Inter looked like they had gotten an early breakthrough after Thiago Motta had headed in a free kick, however, the linesman ruled out his goal for offsides. 

For the rest of the first half, AC Milan controlled the play and should have gone in front.  Wesley Sneijder was able to return after a thigh injury, but only played the last 15 minutes of the game.

His absence badly hurt Inter, as they could barely get a touch on the ball without their midfield talisman.  Late in the first half, the possession totals were 65 percent AC Milan to just 35 percent for Inter. 

As a result of all this possession, AC Milan created several good chances.

In the 11th minute Prince Boateng fizzed in a shot from outside of the box that was deflected and fell to Alexandre Pato.  Somehow, from point-blank range, Pato blazed the ball over the net.

The next great chance came about 10 minutes later from an AC Milan corner. 

The Rossoneri worked it well and Boateng had a great chance to give them the lead, but once again the shot was blazed over the bar.

Inter would then have a golden chance to take the lead when a cross found Ricardo Alvarez unmarked in the box.  He controlled the ball, but his shot was saved by the feat of Abbiati.

The last close call of the first half came right before halftime and again to AC Milan.  Pato cut inside from the right and laid the ball off to Mark van Bommel who had a shot from the top of the box. 

His shot blasted against the crossbar, luckily for the Nerazzurri.

After Milito put Inter in front, the players worked their socks off to keep the lead.  Inter’s defense in the second half was suffocating; the Rossoneri hardly created any clear-cut openings.

Javier Zanetti had yet another excellent game in his storied career for Inter.  Not only did he help set up the goal, but he also defended brilliantly all night. 

When the full-time whistle was blown, the Inter fans and players celebrated the triumph exuberantly.

Inter will enjoy the victory for a while, but will soon set their sights on another important match, as Lazio visits the San Siro next weekend. 

A victory for Inter will see them leapfrog Lazio in the standings and would be their seventh in a row.