Serie A Fixtures/Results
Serie A leaders Inter were looking to strengthen their grip at the top of the standings as they hosted city rivals Milan in the Derby della Madonnina.
The Nerazzurri started impeccably and took an early lead when Diego Milito fired home following a wonderful assist over the top from Goran Pandev. The game swung in the Rossoneri’s favour when Wesley Sneijder was shown red for insulting the referee.
After the break Milan came out on top but Inter doubled their lead against the run of play when Pandev floated home a free kick on the hour mark. Despite throwing everything forward in the closing stages, there was no way back for the Rossoneri as they failed to breakthrough Mourinho’s stronghold.
The game started at an electric pace and the Nerazzurri created the first goal scoring chance of the game when Sneijder attempted a wonderful strike from outside the box after just 120 seconds. Nelson Dida saw it late, but the Brazilian breathed a sigh of relief as the ball came crashing off the post.
Milan quickly hit back and shortly after Marco Borriello had a great chance to test Julio Cesar when Luca Antonini cut a low cross along the box. Unfortunately the hitman snapped at his shot on the turn, and the effort finished over the bar.
The game was swinging from one end to another at a frightening pace, and seconds later Sneijder again went close when he smashed a shot at the legs of Dida from close range. The Nerazzurri had begun the brighter and they were unlucky not to have taken the lead.
Just minutes later Jose Mourinho’s men did exactly that, when Pandev served a wonderful ball over the top for Milito to carry into the box. ‘El Principe’ wasted nothing as he picked his spot, and he buried the ball in the bottom corner to give the Beneamata a deserved lead.
The home side could smell blood and they continued to push forward in a bid to pick off Il Diavolo without allowing time for a reaction. Pandev once again fed Milito in on goal, but this time the Argentine’s shot was blocked at the near post by an alert Dida.
Inter were utilising the counter attack to frightening effect, and Milan simply couldn’t keep up with the pace of the Nerazzurri who looked ready to cause damage on every break forward.
The game took an incredible twist on 25 minutes when Gianluca Rocchi awarded Sneijder a straight red card for an ironic applause directed in his direction. The Dutchman had looked to show his discord towards an earlier decision regarding Lucio, but the referee didn’t think twice in letting the midfielder know who was in charge.
The numerical advantage proved an instant boost for the Rossoneri, and Mourinho’s men looked rattled as their nerves got the better of them momentarily.
Milan went close on 38 minutes when Andrea Pirlo’s deflected free kick fizzed just wide. After being tricked by his wall, Julio Cesar breathed as massive sigh of relief as he stood in no-man’s-land to watch the ball fly out for a corner.
After the re-start Milan looked to take the early initiative and they almost levelled when Borriello’s headed effort was palmed away by Julio Cesar. Leonardo had introduced Clarence Seedorf during the break, and the Dutchman seemed to have given the Rossoneri more synergy going forward.
The Rossoneri looked re-born and Borriello again headed on target when Giuseppe Favalli whipped in a first time ball on 57 minutes. The ever present Julio Cesar again showed why he is so highly regarded as he blocked the ball expertly at the near post.
60 seconds later David Beckham put an inch-perfect ball into the danger zone and Borriello once again met the cross in the air just yards from goal. This time the towering hitman couldn’t find the target however and Milan were left wondering how they were still a goal behind.
Inter were dropping alarmingly deep but they still managed to break forward on the counter attack when Milito served Pandev on the hour mark. The Macedonian entered the box with just the ‘keeper to beat and after producing an expert chip over Dida’s shoulder, the hitman was then denied by the outside of the post.
Shortly after however, Pandev was rewarded for his fine display when he whipped a free kick over the wall to double the Nerazzurri’s lead. Mourinho had indicated from the sidelines that the Macedonian was to take the shot, and the hitman repaid his coach with a wonderful strike.
As the clock began to run down Milan pressed forward insistent on re-opening the tie. Given their position with a double lead however, Inter were more than happy to sit back and soak up the pressure.
Despite throwing everything and more at the Nerazzurri, Leonardo’s men just could blow Mourinho’s house down. In the dying seconds Il Diavolo were awarded a penalty kick for a Lucio handball and the defender was sent off, but Julio Cesar saved the day as he palmed Ronaldinho’s attempt wide of the post.
Inter stretched their lead at the top to nine points whilst Milan’s title hopes were left hanging in the balance.