Inter Milan see off AC Milan but Champions League final is Man City or Real Madrid’s to lose
Inter Milan 1-0 AC Milan (aggregate 3-0) (Martinez 74′)
Inter Milan secured their place in the Champions League final for the first time since 2010 after a swing of Lautaro Martinez’s left boot condemned their city rivals AC to a 3-0 aggregate defeat in the San Siro.
Simone Inzaghi’s side were superior for much of the two-legged tie at San Siro and worthy winners despite an improved display from a youthful Milan team.
Milan’s misfiring players were given a public dressing down by the club’s ultras on Saturday after a 2-0 defeat against relegation-threatened Spezia left their hopes of qualifying for this competition via the league hanging by a thread.
Motivation through fear was clearly the plan and initially, it appeared to work. Theo Hernandez almost caught out Andre Onana with a shot that wobbled unpredictably through the air before Matteo Darmian cleared from under his own crossbar as Sandro Tonali loitered expectantly as the goal gaped.
Milan’s golden opportunity arrived after 11 minutes when Brahim Diaz found himself completely unmarked in the centre of the penalty area but could only telegraph a shot into Andre Onana’s gloves.
The returning Rafael Leao also came close after slaloming his way into a shooting position but slid his effort just wide.
Those missed chances sapped Milan’s belief and offered Inter encouragement. Edin Dzeko forced a stunning reaction stop from Mike Maignan just before half-time and after the break Inter took control of a tie that, at times, resembled a Sunday League slugfest rather than a European glamour tie.
When is the Champions League final?
- Date: Saturday 10 June
- Kick-off time: 8pm
- TV Channel: BT Sport
- Live stream: BT Sport website, app and YouTube
Francesco Acerbi’s devious stamp on Tonali’s toes was the most blatant act of gamesmanship in a second period defined by the dark arts.
Eventually, Inter got their goal to settle it. Substitute Romelu Lukaku teed up Martinez and the Argentine squeezed a shot in at Maignan’s near post before charging into the stands to celebrate. Lukaku, on loan from Chelsea, sunk to his knees as the final whistle sounded.
Inter, who trail Serie A champions Napoli by 17 points, are off the Istanbul. An impressive achievement, no doubt. But neither Pep Guardiola nor Carlo Ancelotti will lose sleep over them. The final is City’s or Real’s to lose.