Inter beat Milan to take control of semi-final tie
Inter Milan took a big step towards reaching the Champions League final as they beat their city rivals in a thrilling Milan derby at San Siro.
In a game that had been anticipated for weeks in Italy and was witnessed at the ground by a vocal and passionate 80,000-strong crowd, Inter made the perfect start when Edin Dzeko volleyed home in the eighth minute.
The goal silenced the Milan fans – the designated home side for this tie in the stadium the two sides share – as they significantly outnumbered the Inter supporters.
And the hosts were stunned further three minutes later when Henrikh Mkhitaryan swept a shot beyond Mike Maignan after being set up by Federico Dimarco.
Hakan Calhanoglu hit the woodwork as Inter threatened to get a third, but there was hope for AC Milan when referee Jesus Gil Manzano reversed a decision to award the visitors a penalty, deeming Lautaro Martinez to have dived after consulting the pitchside monitor.
Inter dropped their tempo in the second half as they looked to protect their two-goal advantage and it almost presented AC Milan with a lifeline as Sandro Tonali struck the post with a shot from the edge of the box.
But Inter held firm and are in a strong position to reach the final – where they will face either Manchester City or Real Madrid – when the two sides meet again at San Siro for the second leg on Tuesday, 16 May (20:00 BST).
Inter take big step to end long wait
Inter Milan are three times winners of the European Cup or Champions League, but have not reached the final since they last lifted the trophy 13 years ago.
This is the furthest they have been in the competition since then and, despite the intimidating atmosphere created by the overwhelming number of AC Milan fans, they were determined to push on.
Inter boss Simone Inzaghi opted for the 37-year-old Dzeko to lead the attack, with Romelu Lukaku on the bench, and it didn’t take long for that decision to be vindicated as the former Manchester City striker steered home a brilliant finish from a corner.
AC Milan knocked Tottenham and Serie A champions Napoli out of the Champions League on their way to the semi-finals but looked capable of being opened up by Inter with every attack and would have been pleased to reach half time just 2-0 down.
They were better after the break but did not manage a shot on target until the 81st minute – a deflected Junior Messias effort – and will need to be much, much better if they are to deny Inter a place in the Champions League final.