It was an emotional evening for Paolo Maldini as the veteran played his 56th and final Derby della Madonnina. The veteran was hailed by supporters from both sides prior to the game and the Nerazzurri supporters even displayed a banner saying: "Per 20 anni nostro rivale, ma nella vita sempre leale" (For 20 years our opponent, but in life always loyal).
Only a true legend can earn that kind of apprasial from all fans.
Milan playmaker Ricardo Kaká watched his team from the stands due to his foot injury whereas his fellow Brazil teammate and Inter forward Adriano returned from his three match ban to partner Zlatan Ibrahimovic up front.
The game shot off at once as Zlatan Ibrahimovic created Inter’s first opportunity on goal in the opening minute. The Swede headed wide with no trace of his marker around.
It didn’t take long for Milan to start taking over possession and they quickly started to push Inter back on their side of the field. Alexandre Pato’s electrifying pace caused trouble for the Inter defense on more than one occasion but Cesar was merely a bystander as the rearguard did all the dirty work.
Inter’s next good opportunity on goal came ten minutes into the game. Unfortunately for Inter both Walter Samuel and Adriano went for the same ball and the latter accidentally pushed his team mate into the ground thus wasting a good chance.
Roughly 20 minutes into the game Inter created a golden opportunity to take the lead as the players charged forward on another counter attack. Ibrahimovic back heeled the ball to Cambiasso who set Dejan Stankovic free with a one-on-one with Christian Abbiati in the Milan goal. The Serbian waited a second too long and it was enough for Massimo Ambrosini to make a vital interception
Pato’s blistering pace continued to keep the Inter backline busy but the young starlet looked lonely up front at times although he had help from right back Gianluca Zambrotta. Milan again started to take up the possession whereas Inter created most of their chances on the counter attacks.
Despite Milan having the upper hand Adriano was able to give the “home side” the lead after 28 minutes of play. The “Emperor” escaped his marker to meet Maicon’s cross from the right hand side and headed the ball which defected off his arm before it went into the net behind Abbiati. A controversial goal indeed.
With three minutes remaining of the first half Ibrahimovic headed Muntari’s free kick to set up Stankovic. The Serbian didn’t make the same mistake again as he half volleyed in a clinical finish into the back of the net in order to extend Inter’s lead to 2-0.
Inter had a great opportunity add to the scoresheet directly after the restart as Kalazde gave away the ball rather cheaply. Adriano decided to try a shot from long range instead of passing it to a better positioned Ibrahimoic.
Milan soon started to mount real pressure on Inter and Seedorf came close to bring the “away side” back into the game but the Dutchman slipped at a very unfortunate moment.
Carlo Ancelotti made his first change at the hour mark as he substituted David Beckham who had picked up a muscular injury to bring on supersub Filippo Inzaghi in order to add extra firepower to the offense.
In the following minutes Inter created several chances through Adriano and Ibrahimovic as they cut the Milan defense wide open in their search for a third goal. While Adriano’s long range attempts went wide of the mark on both occasions, Abbiati had to use his fingertips to deny the Swede a venom strike.
Beckham’s exit seemed to leave the Rossoneri players in an unbalanced state as Inter kept piling players forward and coming close to scoring on every attack.
With 20 minutes remaining of the game Milan were given hopes to reduce their derby blushes as Pato put Milan back in the game with a beautiful build-up. Ronaldinho’s delightful pass to Marek Jankulovski cut open the Inter defense as the midfielder went on to pass the ball back to a forward charging Pato who made no mistake in front of Julio Cesar.
In the following minute Ronaldinho once again caused mayhem in the Inter rearguard as he tried to find his fellow country man, Pato. Inter once again went on a counter attack and Adriano suddenly found himself alone with only Abbiati in his way, but the shot stopper made another vital save as he denied the Brazilian of a brace.
In the 78th minute Superpippo half volleyed in what he thought was the equalizer but his celebration was cut short as the linesman raised his flag for offside. An outraged Inzaghi couldn’t believe his eyes but replays showed the linesman had been correct.
The game had picked up an incredible pace by this time as Milan tried desperately to cancel out Inter’s lead but Cesar parried away another attempt from Inzaghi.
Both coaches made changes in the final part of the game as Ancelotti went for offensive power by introducing Phillippe Senderos for Kaladze whereas Mourinho went for a tighter defense by bringing on Patrick Vieira for Adriano and Nicola Burdisso for Dejan Stankovic.
While Pato kept feeding balls into the box Mourinho went on the make his final change for the evening as he put in Maxwell instead of Sulley Muntari in the dying minutes of the game. Inzaghi had one last attempt on goal in the stoppages but was denied once again by Cesar—who was shown the yellow card for dragging out the time.
Inter Milan – AC Milan 2-1
1-0 (28) Adriano, 2-0 (48) Stankovic, 2-1 (70) Pato
Inter won the derby after showcasing a solid performance and although Milan came close to equalising on several occasions it was simply too little too late. The result will be a bitter one for captain Paolo Maldini who played his last Milan derby this evening but made sure to applaude the Nerazzuri supporters in addition to the club's own.
Three new points for Inter means that they now distance themselves from Juventus and city rivals AC Milan by nine and 11 points respectively. Is the Scudetto race over already?