Inter Milan and AC Milan played out a 0-0 draw in their final derby of the Serie A season, with the performance by both sides largely proving why they both lie in mid-table this term. The second San Siro showdown of the Serie A season was not without incident, however, with both sides feeling the pain of having goals disallowed. Both Alex and Rodrigo Palacio had goals ruled out as the whistle had gone for infringements in the build-up. There were few real moments of quality at either end, and a draw always seemed the likely outcome. Milan defender Philippe Mexes breathed the deepest sigh of relief after his second-half own goal was chalked off due to a controversial foul from Inter striker Rodrigo Palacio. The draw shuffles the Rossoneri and Nerazzurri onto 43 and 42 points respectively although their lowly league positions of ninth and 10th are unchanged. Fifth place, the nearest European berth, is seven points beyond Milan’s reach with seven games left.
Ita s likely neither side will qualify for Europe, so local pride had become more important than ever and 75,000 packed into San Siro for the derby. Fredy Guarin and Marcelo Brozovic were suspended with Zdravko Kuzmanovic, Jonathan, Dodo and Hugo Campagnaro injured. Roberto Mancini surprisingly gave 18-year-old Assane Gnoukouri his full debut, having played only 12 minutes against Verona last week. Pippo Inzaghi gave Suso his first Serie A start in a new trident, while Alex stepped in for Gabriel Paletta.
Hernanes had the first chance after 10 minutes, unleashing a long-range screamer that Diego Lopez palmed out from under the bar. Mateo Kovacic fired over from distance, while Jeremy Menez rolled across with nobody ready to tap in and Susoa s snapshot stung the gloves of Samir Handanovic. Hernanes wasted a promising free kick and Gary Medel was booked, meaning he will be suspended against Roma. Milan had the ball in the net on the half-hour mark with Alex after a Suso free kick almost turned into a Danilo Da Ambrosio own goal, but the offside flag was raised. Giacomo Bonaventura rolled across for Marco van Ginkel, intercepted crucially by Andrea Ranocchia, then Handanovic did the same to stop Meneza s low cross. Diego Lopez had to hoof clear under pressure from Mauro Icardi.
The game was there to be seized when play resumed and Inter looked the team most likely to do so with Luca Antonelli forced into a desperate goal-line clearance when Rodrigo Palacio came knocking. The Argentinian was heavily involved in the next move, sweeping up Mateo Kovavic’s ball and delivering a first-time cross that Hernanes saw deflect off Antonelli and loop wide from close range. It was one-way traffic by the time Icardi tried to turn Palacio’s pass beyond Lopez in the 68th minute and moments later the ball was in the back of Milan’s net. Mexes appeared to clumsily knock the ball into his own net, but referee Luca Banti ruled the goal out for Palacio’s pull on Marco van Ginkel. Spurred on to cover for the disappointment, Inter kept plundering forward and Ranocchia really should have clipped home from two yards out during a defensive scramble. Lopez had to be at full stretch to repel Jesus’ left-footer from the edge of the box and it seemed only a matter of time until Inter would make the breakthrough. Milan, however, managed to break out of their own half during the final exchanges. They failed to threaten Handanovic again but Inter’s siege fizzled and full-time signalled the points would be shared.
Making his first start for AC Milan in competitive action, Spanish playmaker Suso impressed in the first half. From the right side of the attack, he showed good composure and skill on the ball to drift infield, take on his man and get a few crosses or shots away, one of which troubled Samir Handanovic. When things were looking difficult for both teams to create chances, both managers opted for a few offensive substitutions but neither had the quality to impact the game. Xherdan Shaqiri hasn’t really made the big impact yet. Mattia Destro had no effect on the game, and Alessio Cerci barely received time to affect the flow of the fixture. One Milan player who certainly came out of the match with some credit was AC goalkeeper Diego Lopez. The Spanish stopper made a string of interceptions and close-range saves in the second half. Twice he made one-handed stops to deny Inter after set pieces had not been properly cleared. Late in the match, Lopez came up with some big aerial claims to relieve the pressure off his defence as a succession of crosses came in from the Inter flanks. Another clean sheet for Lopez underlined his status as one of the top performers for Milan this term. The hugely impressive Gnoukouri also made a positive impact last night.
Pippo Inzaghi and Roberto Mancini are both big figures at their respective clubs, and perhaps they can take their teams to greater heights next term. European football for neither team next season would be historic, but perhaps it would let both rebuild with more time and less fixture congestion.