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Edin Dzeko is timeless! Inter striker leads Champions League semi-final first leg victory over AC Milan

  • Two early goals kill AC Milan
  • Inter capitalise on calamitous defending
  • Nerazzurri put one foot in final

TELL ME MORE: A nightmare start for Stefano Pioli's side saw them completely undone by Inter in the opening stages of a historic Champions League semi-final, which they ultimately failed to recover from. Early goals from Edin Dzeko and Henrikh Mkhitaryan put Inter in cruise control, before a penalty for a foul on Lautaro Martinez threatened to effectively end the tie before half-time.

Thankfully for Milan, the spot-kick decision was overturned, but the Rossoneri were unable to consistently threaten Inter's goal at any point throughout the evening and lacked any conviction with Rafael Leao absent, while never looking solid defensively and losing Ismael Bennacer to an injury.

THE MVP: Ageing like a fine wine, Dzeko came up with the goods after just eight minutes and set the tone for a brilliant Inter performance. His vicious volley was taken in the way only an elite player could in the semi-final of the Champions League. At 37, many believe his best days are behind him and they might still be. But there's life in the old dog yet, and his contribution against Inter's fiercest rivals on such a big stage is testament to that. Timeless.

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THE BIG LOSER: While Inter's veteran striker propelled them to success thanks to a fast start, AC Milan's veteran centre-back Simon Kjaer put in a performance of stark contrast, looking off the pace from the first whistle. His defensive colleague Fikayo Tomori didn't cover himself in glory, but it was Kjaer's shaky performance which epitomised a timid performance from Pioli's men and could ultimately end up costing them a spot in the Champions League final. Kjaer was positionally poor, slow to react, didn't take responsibility and was only saved from conceding a penalty thanks to the aid of VAR. A very underwhelming showing.

MATCH IN THREE PHOTOS:

Dzeko Milan Inter Champions League 2022-23.Getty ImagesHenrikh Mkhitaryan Inter AC Milan Champions League 2022-23GettyKjaer Milan InterGetty Images

WHAT NEXT? AC Milan need to unlock several new levels to their game if they are to force a turnaround in the second leg. And with the San Siro set to be swallowed up by seas of blue and the fierce sound of Inter's Curva Nord next week, the task looks mountainous.

The potential return of Rafael Leao alone will not on its own be enough to fire them to victory. A huge improvement throughout the squad is needed from the Rossoneri.

MATCH RATING (OUT OF FIVE):

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