Inter reaches the Champions League final after 13 years
Inter defeated Milan 1-0 in the second leg on the evening of May 16th, and 3-0 on aggregate. This victory sends Inter to the Champions League final for the first time since 2010.
The last time Inter reached the Champions League final was in the historic 2009-2010 season under the guidance of manager Jose Mourinho. Back then, they defeated Bayern in the Champions League final, clinched the Serie A title, and won the Italian Cup, becoming the first Italian club to achieve a treble in a single season.
Despite the return of key striker Rafael Leao, Milan couldn’t find their form to stage a miraculous comeback at San Siro, and they accept their elimination from the top continental competition. Going forward, Stefano Pioli’s team will shift their focus to securing a top-four finish in Serie A, where they currently sit in fifth place with 61 points, trailing Lazio by four points.
Yesterday, Milan had Leao available, but they were without Ismael Bennacer, Rade Krunic, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic due to injuries. Malick Thiaw and Junior Messias were selected to start in place of Simon Kjaer and Alexis Saelemaekers. On the other side, Inter only had Milan Skriniar absent and maintained their starting lineup from the previous week’s 2-0 victory in the first leg.
The Milan derby in the second leg didn’t live up to expectations. Milan pushed forward with their lineup to find an early goal but only managed a few notable moments in the first half. In the 5th minute, Theo Hernandez unleashed a powerful shot from a distance of over 30 meters, but the ball hit the crossbar.
Six minutes later, Sandro Tonali accelerated down the left and delivered a perfectly timed pass to Brahim Diaz, who took a first-time shot from a tight angle, but goalkeeper Andre Onana made a save.
The most dangerous opportunity came in the 38th minute when Leao gained an advantage in an aerial duel with Matteo Darmian, accelerated past Francesco Acerbi, and took a left-footed shot that hit the post. Inter players believed that Leao had fouled Darmian in the process, but the referee did not blow the whistle.
With a two-goal advantage, Inter played a cautious game and delivered a decisive blow in the 74th minute. Receiving the ball from Romelu Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez controlled it and unleashed a left-footed shot into the near corner, beating goalkeeper Mike Maignan. Martinez became the third Argentine player for Inter to reach the milestone of ten goals in the UEFA Champions League, following Julio Cruz (13) and Hernan Crespo (11).
Immediately after conceding the goal, Coach Stefano Pioli went all-out, bringing on Alexis Saelemaekers and Divock Origi. However, it didn’t help Milan regain their form.
By defeating their city rivals with an aggregate score of 3-0, Inter will face the winner of the remaining semi-final between Manchester City and Real Madrid in the final at Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul on June 10th.
Inzaghi becomes the second Italian coach in history to lead Inter to the UEFA Champions League final, following Giovanni Invernizzi in 1972. Goalkeeper Onana also extended his record with his eighth clean sheet in the Champions League this season.
Reaching the Champions League final, Inter now has the opportunity to achieve a treble this season. They have already defeated Milan 3-0 in the Italian Super Cup final, advanced to the Champions League final, and will also face Fiorentina in the Italian Cup final on May 24th in Rome.
Inter will compete in three finals this season, including the Italian Super Cup, Italian Cup, and Champions League. The last time they accomplished this feat was in the 2010-2011 season when they reached four finals, winning three of them: the Italian Super Cup, Italian Cup, and FIFA Club World Cup.
This is also the fourth consecutive time Inter has defeated Milan in three different competitions this season, following their 2-0 victory in the first leg, the 3-0 win in the Italian Super Cup final, and the 1-0 win in Serie A.
It is the second time in Inter’s history that they have beaten their city rivals four times in a single season, with the previous occurrence happening in the 1973-1974 season when they won two matches in Serie A and two matches in the Italian Cup.
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