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December 22, 2013
• Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milano
Referee: P. Mazzoleni
• Attendance: 79311
R. Palacio 86'
So, Palacio's clever finish gives Inter fans the perfect Christmas gift and the Nerazzurri are now unbeaten in their last five matches against Milan. Walter Mazzarri's side return to Serie A action on January 6 when they travel to Lazio while Milan will be hoping for a change of fortune in 2014 when they host Atalanta. Thanks for tuning in with me, Max Bentley, on this live commentary. Have a great Christmas and I'll see you for more Serie A action in the New Year!
That result leaves Milan in 13th position, just five points off the relegation places and 27 points behind leaders Juventus.
FT: Inter 1-0 Milan. Rodrigo Palacio's late strike gives the Nerazzurri a crucial victory over their fierce rivals to lift them up to fifth place. It was hardly a classic derby encounter with both sides demonstrating a lack of quality in the final third. The pressure continues to build on Max Allegri and I would be surprised if he was still in charge of the Rossoneri in the New Year.
90' + 4'
Yellow Card Hugo Campagnaro
90' + 3'
Red Card Sulley Muntari
MUNTARI SENT OFF! The Ghanaian was perhaps fortunate not to be sent off for a studs-up challenge on Jonathan in the first half but he receives his marching orders late on as he loses his cool to push Kuzmanovic to the floor. It's been a bad day for Milan.
90' + 2'
This Milan team look devoid of ideas and Palacio nearly doubles Inter's lead as he fires a left-footed shot over the bar from outside the box. Milan will have Keisuke Honda in their ranks when the Serie A season resumes in the New Year.
90' + 1'
The game enters the first minute of stoppage time and it is Inter who look the more likely to score the second but Jonathan's effort is deflected over the bar by Bonera.
Is time up for Allegri now? The Rossoneri are 13th in Serie A and 27 points off leaders Juventus.
The Inter supporters are bouncing here and they look set to extend their lead over Milan to twelve points and leapfrog Verona into fifth place. Milan throw on Pazzini in the search for a desperate late equaliser.
Yellow Card Mario Balotelli
Assist F. Guarín
Goal Rodrigo Palacio
PALACIO GIVES INTER THE LEAD! The deadlock has finally been broken and it is Inter's top goalscorer who has got it. Guarin plays a low cross into the box from the right and Palacio holds off Zapata to nonchalantly backheel the ball into the bottom corner. The pressure continues to mount on Max Allegri.
It remains goalless heading into the final six minutes but it is Inter who are doing all the pressing. Can they find a late winner to extend their lead over their rivals to twelve points?
Icardi has enjoyed a respectable start to his Inter career and he joins the action for the final eight minutes, replacing Cambiasso. Nagatomo takes the captain's armband.
CHANCES FOR INTER! The Nerazzurri are looking to steal the points late on and Palacio produces a neat turn to escape Bonera's surveillance before his low effort is parried by Abbiati. Kuzmanovic then tries his luck from the left corner of the box and Abbiati nervously scrambles the ball to safety.
Nagatomo has played higher up the field in the last 20 minutes or so and he finds space outside the Milan box but his tame right-footed effort is easily saved by Abbiati. I think these sides could play all night and we wouldn't see a goal.
Nagatomo is starting to enjoy some space down the left but his low cross into the middle is just too far ahead of Palacio. Kovacic then latches onto a loose ball on the edge of the box but he can only fire wildly over the crossbar. Christmas could not come sooner for these two sides.
Riccardo Saponara has not looked out of place on his first league start for Milan and he makes way for Alessandro Matri. Can the much-criticised striker make his mark today? The stage is certainly set.
It's not difficult to see why both these sides are so far behind Juventus in the Scudetto race as the lack of attacking quality has been evident for all to see. Who remembers the days of Van Basten, Vieri, Seedorf and Recoba?
Balotelli lines up the free kick from distance but he cannot hit the target as his fierce effort goes over the wall but wide of the top left-hand corner. I'm sure a few people will have fallen asleep in their armchairs now, it has not been a classic Milan derby.
Yellow Card Rolando
The cards are becoming more frequent now and Rolando is the next player to be cautioned after catching Balotelli.
Kuzmanovic looks to make an immediate impact as he receives Nagatomo's short corner but his bending effort cannot find the top corner and goes wide of the target.
This game has turned rather flat in the last 15 minutes or so and Mazzarri looks to liven things up by introducing Kuzmanovic in place of Zanetti. The Argentine veteran receives a warm reception as he wanders off the pitch.
Yellow Card Juan Jesus
Juan Jesus becomes the second Inter player to be cautioned after he brings down Balotelli.
Nagatomo has scored four goals in Serie A already this season and he cuts inside from the left onto his right foot before firing straight at Abbiati.
Milan nearly snatch the opening goal in bizarre circumstances as Muntari chests Kaka's cross towards Balotelli and the ball strikes Campagnaro before flashing inches wide of the post.
Yellow Card Nigel De Jong
Nigel De Jong is certainly no stranger to a booking and he is the next player to be cautioned after a late tackle on Kovacic.
An hour on the clock and the Milan derby remains goalless. It looks as though several of these players are already on their winter break.
Yellow Card F. Guarín
Guarin's work rate has been impressive in this game but he is perhaps a little too energetic as he brings down Saponara to receive a booking. I wonder if there are any Chelsea scouts in the stands this evening.
Walter Mazzarri has seen enough and he decides to make his first change, introducing Kovacic in place of Taider. Can the Croatian prodigy make his mark on this derby stalemate?
ANOTHER CHANCE FOR BALOTELLI! The Milan No.45 seems to have sprung to life here and he makes a smart run to meet Muntari's pass inside the box but his outside-of-the-foot effort flashes just past the post. That would have been a special goal.
GOOD EFFORT FROM BALOTELLI! The Italy striker has not enjoyed the best of evenings against his former club so far but he nearly opens the scoring as he races onto a ball down the left before his curling effort is tipped away from the far corner by Handanovic.
We've seen some fantastic Milan derbies over the years but this game does not seem as though it will be one of them as both teams are struggling to find that cutting edge in the final third. A goal would really open up this contest as both teams look afraid to lose.
There is a sense of urgency about Inter at the beginning of this second half and Campagnaro rises highest to meet a cross from the right but his firm header is well blocked by Zapata.
Inter have made a good start to the second half but the first goal continues to elude us as Guarin cannot direct his header from Cambiasso's corner towards goal.
Palacio was quiet in the first half but he uses his strength to hold off two Milan midfielders before picking out Jonathan on the right corner of the box. The Brazilian has teammates in the middle but opts to go for goal and his shot is well held by Abbiati. I'm not sure he chose the right option there.
The teams re-emerge from the tunnel for the second half and Milan, in their christmas tree formation, get the game back underway. Allegri has been forced into a substitution as Kevin Constant has picked up an ankle injury and he is replaced by Urby Emanuelson.
HT: Inter 0-0 Milan. It's hardly been a vintage Derby della Madonnina as the two sides head into the break goalless. Milan have enjoyed the better of the first half and have dominated the midfield battle but they have failed to regularly test Samir Handanovic in the Nerazzurri net. Walter Mazzarri will no doubt have some strict words for his side at the break.
45' + 2'
CAMBIASSO GOES CLOSE! Inter go extremely close to scoring on the stroke of half time as Cambiasso meets Taider's free kick from the right, only to see his header glance agonisingly wide of the top left-hand corner.
45' + 1'
Yellow Card Kevin Constant
This game has lost its fluidity in the last ten minutes or so and Constant becomes the second Milan player to be booked after he hauls Guarin to the floor. Can Inter take advantage from this set piece?
There is another break in play here and Muntari is extremely fortunate not to receive a card after a nasty challenge on Jonathan. The Ghanaian went over the ball before catching the Brazilian with his studs and is lucky that the referee did not spot that.
There is a stoppage in play here as Constant receives treatment after tangling with Guarin. Milan have certainly enjoyed the better of this first half but it seems that we will be heading into the break goalless.
The Inter players scream for a penalty when Palacio goes down in the box under a challenge from Zapata but the referee waves away the appeals. On second viewing, that does seem a clumsy tackle from the Colombian defender.
Handanovic made a howler in the recent game against Parma and he has certainly looked shaky from set pieces tonight. The Slovenian goalkeeper races off his line and attempts to punch Kaka's corner to safety but gets absolutely nowhere near it and is fortunate that there is no red and black shirt to take advantage.
GOOD SAVE FROM ABBIATI! The Milan goalkeeper has not had much to do in this first half but he stays alert to palm away Taider's fizzing drive from outside the box.
Saponara has looked tidy on his first league start for Milan and he spreads the play out wide to Poli. The midfielder's cross is cleared to the edge of the box by Juan Jesus where De Jong's stinging volley is well blocked by Guarin. Milan's pressing has been very impressive in this first half and Palacio has hardly touched the ball.
Milan are dominating the midfield battle at the moment but they cannot make their pressure count. Muntari bursts forward from deep and jinks past Cambiasso before firing a shot high and wide of the target.
WHAT A CHANCE FOR POLI! Handanovic flaps at Kaka's corner from the left and Bonera's effort falls kindly to Poli inside the box. However, the former Inter midfielder cannot open the scoring as he wastefully blasts over the crossbar.
Inter are struggling to penetrate the Milan backline and Nagatomo opts to try his luck from distance, only to see his ambitious right-footed shot slice high over the crossbar. Will we see a goal before the half-time whistle?
Yellow Card Mattia De Sciglio
Mattia De Sciglio picks up the first booking of the game after a cynical trip on Guarin. In truth, it's been a well-mannered derby so far.
Cambiasso concedes a foul on Balotelli outside the box but the Italy striker cannot replicate his effort against Livorno from two weeks ago as his powerful effort strikes Guarin in the wall.
CHANCE FOR INTER! The Nerazzurri finally manage to get up the other end to attack and they come extremely close to scoring the opener when Nagatomo meets Taider's teasing cross at the back post before heading narrowly over.
Inter are finding it hard to cope with Milan's pressing game and the Rossoneri again steal possession back before Muntari drills a low right-footed effort inches wide of the post. It is not clicking for Mazzarri's men at the moment.
Since the 2005-06 season, Inter have lost just one and won six of the last eight league editions of the derby where they have been the designated home side.
Milan are looking the more comfortable in possession at the moment and Allegri will be very pleased with his side's performance so far. Inter have looked defensively vulnerable in recent matches, conceding nine goals in their previous three matches. Can Milan turn their pressure into a goal?
Kevin Constant produces a neat piece of skill to get past Taider down the left but he cannot produce the cross to match as he overhits the ball for a goal kick. The tempo is showing no signs of slowing down here.
GREAT EFFORT FROM GUARIN! The Colombian has been linked with a move to Chelsea in January and he comes close to scoring a spectacular opener when his ambitious long-range half-volley bounces narrowly past the post. Abbiati looks particularly relieved to see that one go wide.
Milan continue to keep up the pressure and De Sciglio is enjoying plenty of room down the right. His cross finds its way to Kaka on the edge of the box but the Brazilian's effort is well blocked by Taider.
GOOD EFFORT FROM KAKA! This is a brilliant spell for Allegri's side and Kaka forces Handanovic into a fine low save when he sends a shot through Rolando's legs from the left corner of the box. A win for Milan tonight would help them to reduce the gap on Inter to six points.
BALOTELLI GOES CLOSE! Milan are starting to make their mark on this derby and Cambiasso struggles to clear De Sciglio's cross from the right before Balotelli steers a shot narrowly over the crossbar. The Milan striker has not scored a league goal on this ground for over three months.
Palacio has enjoyed a good season for Inter so far and he attempts to break the deadlock, only to see his curling effort well saved by Abbiati. Milan then attack down the other end and Saponara plays a neat ball out wide to Balotelli who sees his shot deflected behind for a corner.
Balotelli's first touch invites a chorus of jeers from the Inter supporters but he has the ball stolen off his toes by Cambiasso's well-timed interception. Balotelli scored 28 goals in 86 games during his three-year spell at Inter.
Incidentally, Kaka has been handed the Milan armband in Montolivo's absence tonight and he is searching for his 100th goal for the club.
It's a positive start from Inter and Zanetti has the first shot of the game but sees his low effort well blocked by Zapata. There's a quick tempo to the start of this one.
The Milan derby is a typically feisty encounter and within the first 90 seconds, De Jong feels he should be awarded a free kick when he is nearly caught by Cambiasso's high boot before Muntari cynically trips Guarin to deny an Inter counter attack.
The referee blows his whistle and Inter get the ball rolling in the 181st league meeting of the Derby della Madonnina. Who will be crowned as the kings of Milan tonight?
Captains Javier Zanetti and Kaka walk the two sides out of the tunnel and onto the Giuseppe Meazza pitch. Inter are in their traditional black and blue jerseys with Milan in their famous red and black strip. The final Serie A game of 2013 is about to kick-off, let's hope for a Christmas cracker!
The last time these two fierce rivals met was back in February when Ezequiel Schelotto cancelled out Stephan El Shaarawy's opener to earn Inter a 1-1 draw.
Milan have played 162 Serie A matches against Inter: 51 wins, 50 draws and 61 defeats. However, they have taken only one point in their last four meetings between the sides.
Massimiliano Allegri also makes two changes to the side which snatched a 2-2 draw with Roma on Monday. Riccardo Saponara is the surprise inclusion for the Rossoneri and he replaces the suspended Riccardo Montolivo in midfield while Kevin Constant comes into the side for Urby Emanuelson. Mario Balotelli starts up front against his former club.
Walter Mazzarri makes two changes to the team which lost 4-2 to Napoli last weekend. Ricky Alvarez is suspended after picking up a red card in that match and he is replaced by the evergreen Javier Zanetti who makes his 47th appearance in the Derby della Madonnina. Juan Jesus is the only other change, replacing Andrea Ranocchia in the back three.
MILAN (4-3-2-1): Abbiati; De Sciglio, Bonera, Zapata, Constant; Poli, De Jong, Muntari; Saponara, Kaka; Balotelli.
INTER (3-5-1-1): Handanovic; Campagnaro, Rolando, Juan Jesus; Jonathan, Taider, Cambiasso, Zanetti, Nagatomo; Guarin; Palacio.
Without further ado, here are today's lineups and Mario Balotelli can expect a frosty reception from the 'home' Inter support as he lines up against his former employers...
With Juventus earning a ninth straight league win, Inter now find themselves 18 points behind the Serie A leaders in sixth place with Milan struggling nine points further back in 13th position. Defeat to Inter today may well seal the fate of Milan head coach Massimiliano Allegri who is coming under increasing pressure despite their progress in the UEFA Champions League.
The Derby della Madonnina is always one of the first matches that football fans look out for when the Serie A fixtures are released and today's encounter is another huge affair for both Inter and Milan. It has traditionally been billed as a top-of-the-table clash but both teams find themselves a long way behind leaders Juventus and in desperate need of points. Who will seal the three points and the bragging rights this evening? Bringing you all the action from the Giuseppe Meazza, my name is Max Bentley.
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