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Italy - Serie A
4 May 2014
• Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milano
Referee: M. Bergonzi
• Attendance: 73855
N. de Jong 65'
That's my cue, bye for now.
De Jong's second half goal proved the difference here, settling the tightest of derbies. Milan move closer to edging into the Europa League places with the victory, as their players run off to applaud the fans. Inter miss a chance to lock up their own European place, but that matter still look good for the Nerazzurri with the season nearly over.
90' + 4'
And there goes the final whistle! Milan are the ones celebrating the win!
90' + 3'
Abbiati, on the ensuing goalkick from Milito's miss, gets a yellow card for taking his sweet time to get the ball back into play. Milan nearly there...
90' + 2'
Yellow Card Christian Abbiati
90' + 2'
Hernanes this time whips the ball into the box, and Milito gets his head to it...but comes nowhere close to finding the target.
90' + 1'
Into the first of four minutes of added time as Pazzini fouls Ranocchia, giving Inter another chance to pump the ball into the box. Bodies get forward in the box again...
Yellow Card Nigel De Jong
De Jong is booked for a steely challenge on Alvarez, who immediately gets up to take the free kick. Bodies pile into the box...but once again, the visitors fail to pick up anything meaningful and Abbiati is not troubled.
It's Milan in fact holding onto the ball in the final stages, as Inter struggle to get men forward in advanced positions. Looks to be slipping away from them.
Time for another sub folks. It's the last one this time though, I promise. Constant departs for Abate, who will slot right into that fullback role. Milan doing everything that they can to close out this narrow victory.
Inter continue to push for an equaliser, after a series of substitutions have prevented play from progressing much. The clock is ticking here for the Nerazzurri, and it's hoped that their substitutes can make an impact quick.
Final change for Inter as Icardi departs for his veteran compatriot Milito. That means no final appearance in the Derby della Madonnina for Javier Zanetti, who will stay on the bench.
Yellow Card Andrea Ranocchia
Now Inter make another change as Jonathan is sacrificed for Alvarez. This makes the Nerazzurri narrower but potentially more able to find a cutting through ball.
BALOTELLI HAS ONE RULED OUT! he struck a long range effort towards goal that took a deflection of Pazzini before rolling into the back of the net! The substitute was in an offside position though. Moments later, the game is delayed as a pitch-invading fan is escorted off the field.
Pazzini on and Kaka off for Milan now. The Brazilian came closest to breaking the deadlock before De Jong's goal with a blistering half-volley that struck the crossbar.
Yellow Card Walter Samuel
Moments after coming on the pitch, Muntari is caught late by Samuel, which immediately earns the veteran Argentine a yellow card.
Another sub quick in the offing, this time from Milan, with Poli departing after a relatively subdued game, with the more defensive presence of Muntari coming onto the field. Clearly a move to hold onto the lead from Seedorf.
And that's Cambiasso's last action of the game, as he is replaced by Guarin, in the first sub of the game for either side. The Colombian might provide some more drive on the ball to spark Inter forward.
PALACIO! The striker has a great chance to get his side back on level terms within minutes of going behind, but after running onto Cambiasso's feed, he angles a wild effort over the top of the bar!
Well, open play yielded a dozen barrels of nothing for both sides, so not quite a shock to see a set piece be the play that opened up this game! Hopefully it will spark an upturn in the tempo of proceedings as Inter look to get back in the game!
Assist Mario Balotelli
Goal Nigel De Jong
A crucial goal from an unlikely source! It's a splendid delivery from Balotelli from a free kick on the right hand side, whipped in with pace and accuracy. De Jong ghosts behind Cambiasso to get his head to the ball and steer it into the back of the net!
MILAN STRIKE FIRST!
There may be hope in the form of a few potential game-changers on the bench though. Milan can call on Robinho, Pazzini or Honda, or Seedorf may roll the dice with a not quite fit El Shaarawy off the bench in his first game since September. Inter have the likes of Milito, Guarin, Alvarez and Kuzmanovic in reserve as well. No shortage of attacking options for both sides, but who will pull the trigger on a sub first?
The fans, to their credit, have kept up the noise in the stands, even when the football on show has been well short of a feast. I guess you can give credit to the defensive effort from both teams, but the offensive deficiencies of Milan and Inter were well known beforehand. Not exactly a surprise, this.
CLOSE! But no cigar in the end from the Milan corner, which is whipped into the six yard area, met well by Mexes but headed narrowly wide! No one in an Inter shirt picked him up there - the chance to score was certainly on the cards!
Chances continue to be at a premium in this second half. Inter get another corner, but Constant is easily able to clear at the near post. It's just not clicking in the attacking third, especially for the Nerazzurri.
Hernanes, moments after that good play, gets bailed out by the referee's whistle after he was robbed of possession by Montolivo, who is infuriated that he was whistled for what looked like a legal foul.
Hernanes, invisible throughout the first half, pulls off a tidy one two with Kovacic at the top of the box, but the latter can't get his bearings in time to find the target, instead drilling the ball into Icardi.
There was a glimpse of an opening there for Icardi, who nearly got on the end of a Palacio feed following a corner. He cannot make good contact on the ball though, and slides it high and wide.
Milan pick up where they left off at the end of the first half, causing most of the danger on the offensive end. Montolivo nearly gets on the end of a Kaka feed, but Handanovic is off his line quickly to smother the ball.
Here we go again!
Inter started as the better side, but Milan hit back with a series of chances in the latter stages of the half - not least Kaka's half-volley that cracked against the crossbar. No goals yet in the derby. Stay tuned for the restart in just a bit.
Kaka slams another attempt over the bar at the end of a swift attack, and that's just about it for the first half. The referee signals for the break.
Both Balo and Kaka flash long range efforts over the bar, as Milan look to make a late push for a goal before the half time break. Not long left now, and I don't think that there will be much injury time either.
It's been a far more even game in the latter stages of the half after spells of both Milan and Inter dominance. Balotelli has a chance to cause danger from a free kick, but gets nothing good on the effort and it goes off target.
Yellow Card Esteban Cambiasso
Balotelli is tripped up by Cambiasso, with a really poor retaliatory challenge. There's no yellow card forthcoming, and the ball is kicked out of play to allow Balotelli to get looked at. This gives the Rossoneri players a chance to swarm the referee.
NEARLY A KAKA SPECIAL! A long ball out from the back finds Kaka isolated against two defenders. He does exceptionally well to bring the ball under his control and square up to goal, and even better to lash a half-volley towards the net that leaves the crossbar rattling. Would have been a stunner!
It's starting to get a little better for Milan. De Sciglio again gets free down the right hand side on the overlap, this time latching onto a through ball from Balotelli. He's impeded before he can get into the box though.
The attacking ascendancy continues from the Rossoneri, who are controlling the majority of possession now. But there's still precious little to suggest that an opener is on the cards anytime soon.
We've seen precious little from Milan in an attacking sense following that earlier De Sciglio opening. I mentioned that they lack the correct players to attack at pace, well, it also seems like they're going nowhere trying to patiently create an opening from the edge of the area.
Not a whole lot is happening out on the pitch in terms of chances. Inter are still controlling most of the ball, but aren't finding many gaps to create danger. Milan are looking to hit on the counter, but they lack the personnel to really force a breakneck tempo.
Now Montolivo and Balotelli are jawing at each other, following a failed link up at the top of the box, where Balotelli's first touch let the ball run away from him, allowing Inter to clear the danger.
Oh dear. De Sciglio, who has already been on the receiving end of some groans from the crowd, has a great opportunity to cause some danger for Handanovic after latching onto an excellent ball from Taarabt on the overlap, but he fails to get a shot in or pick out a teammate, slamming the ball into the side netting. Needs to do better.
A sizzling counter attack from Inter is led by Kovacic, who advances with the ball against a backpedaling defence. Icardi had made a good run down the centre, but he is ignored in favour of Palacio cutting in from the left. He's tackled excellently by Mexes, and Icardi is furious with Kovacic for not getting him the ball.
Samuel shows good awareness to get in front of a free kick attempt by Montolivo, which looked pre-designed to get Kaka in the clear. No opening there for the Rossoneri though.
ABBIATI! He's able to grab the ball just ahead of Palacio! Nagatomo used some electric footwork to evade the attentions of De Sciglio on the left hand side, who really should have done better defending his flank. He slides a pass across the face of goal, but it's within the reach of the keeper.
Mexes with a real late, clumsy challenge on Icardi, who has taken a bit of a beating from Milan so far. He goes into the back of the striker and completely misses the ball, swiping his leg out from under him. The referee duly obliges with a yellow card to a player who has already been sent off twice against Inter.
Yellow Card Philippe Mexes
Montolivo attempts to squeeze a pass through to Balotelli and punish the Inter back line, which has pushed up almost to the halfway line. The striker spins around Ranocchia, but is fouled by the Inter defender before he can establish a run towards the ball.
Rami gets away from conceding a free kick after he basically climbed on top of Icardi on the left hand side. As time progresses, the game is getting scrappier, with both sides looking a little bereft of ideas in attack.
The Inter fullbacks are taking advantage of the narrow setup of the Milan midfield. They have overlapped well down the flanks, and are providing the only visible signs of width in this game. De Jong already has had to bail out his side from one such run.
The ball is moving nicely across the San Siro pitch, but De Jong breaks it up almost instantly with a hefty - but legal - challenge on Jonathan that leaves the defender in a heap and snuffs out a potential overlap.
The whistle had already gone for a foul on Cambiasso, but that doesn't stop Balotelli from cracking a 30-yarder at goal, which Handanovic pushes wide well. Hopefully a sign of things to come, even though the play counts for naught.
It's been almost all Inter since the first whistle, as the Nerazzurri have been dominating the ball, already putting the defence under a little pressure. De Sciglio already had to react quickly to snuff out Jonathan's cross which was aimed for Icardi.
Early signs that Milan, the designated home team tonight, are pushing Kaka forward almost directly level with Balotelli in the attack. Of course, you would expect the Brazilian to constantly shift his position roaming around the offensive lines.
Here we go!
Recent Derby della Madonnina results have swung squarely into the blue corner of the city. The Rossoneri have not won a single one of the previous five clashes in this fixture - with Inter taking maximum points during that spell.
Both sides have been in decent late-season form results wise. Milan had won five straight games in the league until last weekend's 3-0 loss to Roma, but that run put what looked like a mid-table season into position for potential European qualification. Inter have not lost a single game in their last 13, but there has been too many draws in that spell, and indeed all season. Inter have tied 15 games, most in the league.
Neither side are challenging for the Champions League places, to say nothing of the title. However, like I said, it's still one of the most hotly-contested derbies on the planet - with a lot still at stake. The Rossoneri can move to within a point of a Europa League place with a win here tonight. Inter, already in the European places, can all but wrap up a berth in Europe's secondary competition for next season with three points tonight.
Inter wecome back central defenders Walter Samuel and Rolando, who both return from one-game bans and immediately jump back to the starting lineup. Rodrigo Palacio was the man to strike the winner between the two sides in the reverse fixture back in December, and he once again leads the line for the visitors alongside compatriot Mauro Icardi.
The big news for Milan heading into this game concerned the potential return of Stephan El Shaarawy from a foot injury. The young forward has not played since September, and his absence has been sorely felt by the Rossoneri. He's back in the team, but Clarence Seedorf has decided to start with him on the bench. Therefore, Andrea Poli is the man handed a start in attacking midfield.
INTER: Handanovic; Ranocchia, Samuel, Rolando; Jonathan, Hernanes, Cambiasso, Kovacic, Nagatomo; Palacio, Icardi.
MILAN: Abbiati; De Sciglio, Rami, Mexes, Constant; De Jong, Montolivo; Poli, Kaka, Taarabt; Balotelli.
Greetings everyone, it's Derby della Madonnina time. The clash is lacking the gravitas of previous years, with both teams performing well below expectations, but it's still one of the fiercest rivalries out there. I'm Keeghann Sinanan, your guide for all the action.
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