Serie A: Zlatan Double Hands Milan Derby Delight

Inter Milan 1-2 AC Milan

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice in the span of three minutes to hand AC Milan a 2-1 win over rivals Inter in the Derby della Madonnina.

It was sensational return to the line-up for the 39-year-old Zlatan, who had missed Milan’s last few games due to COVID-19 but already recovered last week.

After Atalanta’s heavy defeat to Napoli, the Rossoneri are now in sole possession of first place in the Serie A standings with a perfect record of four wins out of four.

Their victory over Inter is a major boost to their credentials as legitimate title challengers this season, and their Serie A 2020 odds to win the championship could soon improve as a result.

 

Highlights of the game

As discussed in SBOTOP’s preview of the Milan derby, the big Serie A 2020 news for Inter was that they were significantly shorthanded due to COVID-19.

Inter had six players test positive, which included four key starters: centre-backs Alessandro Bastoni and Milan Skriniar, as well as wing-back Ashley Young and defensive midfielder Roberto Gagliardini. Inter were already looking quite shaky in defence in their first few games this season, and those absences certainly didn’t help matters.

It only took 11 minutes for Milan to take advantage of that makeshift Inter defence as Zlatan Ibrahimovic got in behind the backline and won a penalty after a clumsy challenge by replacement centre-back Aleksandar Kolarov.

Zlatan stepped up to take the spot kick, which was saved by Inter keeper Samir Handanovic. But the Milan striker reacted quickly to the rebound to hand Milan the early lead.

And Zlatan doubled Milan’s lead just three minutes later. Rafael Leao easily blew by Inter’s other replacement centre-back — Danilo D’Ambrosio — before delivering an inch-perfect cross for Zlatan, who blasted the ball past Handanovic.

But despite their problems at the back, Inter still had the attacking firepower to come back from a two-goal deficit, and they would pull a goal back just before the half-hour mark.

Romelu Lukaku scores a goal to lead Inter in equalising AC Milan during their recent Serie A match

Inter’s Romelu Lukaku celebrates after scoring a goal during their recent Serie A battle against rivals AC Milan

Kolarov helped make up for his early mistake by delivering a fine ball to Perisic, who pulled the ball back for a Romelu Lukaku tap-in.

Inter continued to pile on the pressure heading into half-time. Lautaro Martinez’s shot from the edge of the box forced a save from Milan keeper Gigi Donnarumma. And in first-half stoppage time, Lukaku had a great chance as he was completely unmarked for a header off a corner, but he sent it just wide.

Inter then had another great chance to equalise on the hour mark which went begging. Arturo Vidal delivered a perfect ball for Achraf Hakimi, but the young wing-back was unable to get his free header on target.

Milan also couldn’t take their chance to seal the win. Substitute Rade Krunic was able to get free for a shot, but he blasted the ball over the barU

The last piece of derby drama came on 73 minutes as Donnarumma brought Lukaku down in the area, and the referee awarded a penalty. But after a lengthy review by VAR, that decision was reversed as Lukaku was initially in an offside position when he received the ball.

With that bullet dodged, Milan were successfully able to weather the last 20 minutes to claim that much-awaited derby victory.

 

Key statistics

With Inter having to chase for much of the game, they finished with 55 per cent of possession and had 18 shots to Milan’s 11.

Lukaku and Lautaro combined for 13 of those 18 shots, five of which were on target. And on the Milan side, Ibrahimovic was also outstanding with five shots resulting in two goals.

Milan’s win was their first in the derby since 2016. They had gone eight league derbies without a win (three draws, five defeats).

Lukaku’s goal was the first Milan have conceded in the league this season. It was also the Belgian’s fourth in four Serie A matches.

 

What’s next?

Inter will begin their UEFA Champions League campaign in midweek as they host Borussia Monchengladbach at the San Siro. They then travel to Genoa when they return to Serie A on the weekend. They will be hoping some of their COVID-positive players will be recovered and ready to return by then.

As for Milan, they also have a European commitment coming up as they face Scottish champions Celtic in the Europa League. Meanwhile, their next Serie A assignment will be against AS Roma at home.

 

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