Finishing the job on Thursday night, Inter Milan punched their Champions League final ticket as they eventually breezed past historic local rivals AC at their shared home of the San Siro.
Clinching a 1-0 victory here thanks to Lautaro Martinez’s clinical strike 16 minutes before the end, Simeone Inzaghi’s side largely didn’t have to get out of second gear and they stormed to a first Champions League final since 2010.
Sat firmly in pole position as they secured a routine 2-0 first-leg win last week, the Nerazzurri will undoubtedly be keeping a close eye on Manchester City’s heavyweight showdown against Real Madrid from the Etihad on Wednesday night.
Only continuing on what has been a stellar recent romp, Tuesday’s 1-0 win at the San Siro also means that Inter have won all four of their meetings against the Rossoneri since opening 2023.
Although Inzaghi’s side might have cruised their way to Turkey, AC Milan will take some time to recover from what has been a nightmare week for the now-former Italian champions.
Claiming just a pair of wins from their last nine appearances across all competitions, questions will certainly be asked of an AC squad who have shown a host of recent issues.
In what was the latest chapter from the Derby della Madonnina rivalry, what did we learn from Tuesday’s semi-final clash?
Inter will dream of springing a major Champions League upset
Although Inter Milan might know that a meeting against either Manchester City or Real Madrid will be a monumental challenge in Istanbul, Inzaghi’s high-flying squad have certainly found top gear at a crucial time.
Only continuing on what has been a remarkable flurry over the past month, the Nerazzurri have now won each of their last eight straight appearances across all competitions – a run that stems back to a 3-3 Champions League stalemate against Benfica on April 19th.
Almost completing their semi-final adventure last week as they claimed that first-leg 2-0 win, the one-time Lazio boss will certainly feel that his squad have made a statement that would have been heard in both Manchester and Madrid.
Now winning all four of their meetings against AC since opening 2023 by an aggregate score of 7-0, Inter really couldn’t have wished for a better occasion to pinch their first European final in 13 years.
Still the last Italian club to lift the Champions League trophy following their famous European success back in 2010, there is no doubt that the Nerazzurri will travel out to Istanbul riding what has been a stellar recent wave of momentum.
Martinez is the man
While Romelu Lukaku might have enjoyed an eye-catching run since returning from March’s international break, it has been Inter Milan’s attacking talisman who has spearheaded their famous Champions League adventure this season.
Eventually completing the Nerazzurri’s semi-final romp with a clinical finish 16 minutes before the end, Martinez has only continued to shine since being handed Inzaghi’s captain’s armband.
Cementing his spot as one of Inter’s most iconic modern-day stars, the 25-year-old has embarked on a free-scoring purple patch since opening 2023.
Now mustering 25 goals in all competitions this season, it is no surprise why many of Europe’s elite have been linked with a potential blockbuster swoop for Martinez this summer.
Likewise, along with finding the net in back-to-back appearances over the past few days, Martinez has also notched eight goals in just his previous nine outings.
Although Inter might know that they face a huge challenge when they travel out to Turkey next month, the Argentinian international certainly has a key role to play in the Nerazzurri’s charge for European history.
AC will know that they face a major backlash
Slumping to that 2-0 first-leg defeat last week and given a stern debrief by the Rossoneri support following, AC Milan would have known that plenty of improvements were needed on Thursday night.
However, failing to mount what would have been an iconic Champions League comeback here, there is no doubt that Stefano Pioli’s men are facing what will be a huge amount of scrutiny over the next few days.
While the Italian icons might have made real history last season as they clinched a first Serie A crown since 2011, AC have certainly come crashing back down to earth this time around and they’re really limping their way over the finish line.
Failing to pick up any momentum last weekend as they slumped to a toothless 2-0 loss away at Spezia, Pioli’s side have now managed to muster just a pair of victories from any of their last nine straight appearances across all competitions.
Slipping out of the Serie A top-four and now seeking a minor miracle in their bid to punch another Champions League ticket for next season, there will also be plenty of speculation over Pioli’s future past the summer.
Inter Milan: Onana, Darmian, Acerbi, Bastoni, Dumfries, Barella, Calhanoglu, Mkhitaryan, Dimarco, Martinez, Dzkeo
Subs: Lukaku, Brozovic, Gosens, Corream Gagliardini
AC Milan: Maignan, Calabria, Thiaw, Tomori, Hernandez, Krunic, Tonali, Messias, Diaz, Leao, Giroud
Subs: Kalulu, Origi, Saelemaekers
Goals: Martinez (74’)
Yellow Cards: Inter Milan: Barella, Martinez – AC Milan: Thiaw, Tonali, Tomori, Krunic
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Clement Turpin
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