AC Milan came from behind to claim a 3-2 Serie A win over local rivals Inter Milan in an entertaining Derby della Madonnina on Saturday evening.
It was a high-octane, high-drama contest at San Siro, as AC Milan defeated arch-rival Inter Milan 3-2 to win the first Derby della Madonnina of the campaign, climbing to the top of Serie A in the process with eleven points, two more than the Nerazzurri.
The first half was exciting and edgy, especially with Theo Hernandez wrestling Inter’s Denzel Dumfries up and down their flank, with both picking up early yellow cards to make the game even more open. The Nerazzurri got off to a terrific start, scoring the first goal of the game when Marcelo Brozovic spotted a gap in Milan’s defence and made a dart from deep before slotting into the bottom-left corner.
The assist was supplied by Joaquin Correa, who played the final pass after some excellent ball protection by Lautaro Martinez. Eight minutes later, Rafael Leao came up with Milan’s equaliser courtesy of a horrendous mistake from Hakan Calhanoglu; a left-footed shot that sniped across Samir Handanovic, who got a finger to the ball but could not keep it out of the bottom right.
As Milan picked up a gear before half-time, Sandro Tonali, Theo Hernandez, and Charles De Ketelaere all threatened to get on the scoresheet. But it was Olivier Giroud who put them in front in the 54th minute, with Leao’s cross finding the French striker, who sent a scuffed strike across and past Handanovic, who should have done better.
Advantage AC Milan 💥 pic.twitter.com/KiEu5zAZZe
— GOAL (@goal) September 3, 2022
At this point, Simone Inzaghi finally made the adjustments, withdrawing two of his centre-backs, which had an instant impact when Edin Dzeko clawed one back from Matteo Darmian’s cross. Inter rallied forward from then on, but Mike Maignan was immense in Milan’s goal and made sure the hosts came away with all three points. The Hard Tackle will now rate both sets of players after an enthralling contest at San Siro.
Mike Maignan: 8/10
In a game where both goalkeepers were extremely busy, Maignan made a spectacular save to deny Hakan Calhanoglu’s rocket of a shot late on and keep Milan in front. He also made a few other great saves in the dying embers of the game. He was generally solid and was also commanding in the air, albeit a tad sloppy on the ball with only 55% pass completion and only one of ten long passes completed. But he came out on top at a crucial point in the game.
Davide Calabria: 7/10
Calabria went about his business in a quiet manner, but his leadership style was there for everybody to see; he was constantly reminding his teammates to keep their heads cool and steady. While he struggled a few times defensively, notably for Edin Dzeko’s goal, he was generally solid if unspectacular.
Pierre Kalulu: 6.5/10
The Frenchman put up a strong defensive performance, and his main strengths were his aggression and high press. Strong in duels, Kalulu was highly proactive, and as a result, he was caught off-guard on occasions. He also lost track of Dzeko on a cross, allowing the striker to cut the deficit in half.
Fikayo Tomori: 8/10
The former Chelsea man performed admirably. Just like Kalulu, he was adept with the ball at his feet, won multiple challenges, and competed with his typical physicality against the skilled combo of Lautaro Martinez and Joaquin Correa. Tomori did, however, lose an important aerial battle with Dzeko on Inter’s second goal, which placed Milan in a tricky situation towards the end.
Theo Hernandez: 7/10
It was mission accomplished for Theo Hernandez, who got under the skin of Denzel Dumfries to nullify Inter’s most dynamic attacking threat. The two were embroiled in a physical battle that had no influence on the proceedings. He showed his attacking prowess at times by bombing up the left flank and crucially getting back to defend when called upon.
Sandro Tonali: 7/10
Tonali was in incredible form and looked lively as he surged forward with purpose and finesse, operating in a dynamic box-to-box role. He was instrumental in the central midfield, winning tackles and combing effectively with Rafael Leao on the right wing, but he somewhat faded as the game went on in the second period, perhaps fatigued.
Ismael Bennacer: 7/10
Bennacer looked sharp from the start and remained calm and composed, carving open Inter on a fair few occasions with his exciting runs and line-breaking passes. His accurate passes controlled possession, and he was the player pulling strings for Milan. His long switch passes were dangerous, and his presence helped his side remain undeterred.
Junior Messias: 6/10
Despite a difficult start to the season, Messias ultimately showed why he is still preferred over Alexis Saelemaekers. The Brazilian performed a solid, functional wing role, and his work rate kept the Milan provided the foundations for other players to express themselves more.
Charles De Ketelaere: 6.5/10
De Ketelaere has been a breath of fresh air at San Siro, but he had an average game here, with some bright moments in between the game. He was opening up spaces for others with his smart interplay and forays forward but was a bit off and could not quite match the intensity of the game in the second half, as he lost track of Marcelo Brozovic in Inter’s opening goal.
Rafael Leao: 10/10
The livewire in Milan’s attack. The 23-year-old Portuguese forward was sensational once again, and was unplayable at times as he marked his 100th Serie A appearance in style with a derby double. Leao’s searing, explosive runs, as well as his lightning-quick feet, were unstoppable. Both of his two goals were well-taken sublime finishes.
Rafael Leão's game by numbers vs. Inter:
7 touches in opp. box
5 accurate long balls
3 shots on target
2 chances created
Involved in all three goals. 👏 pic.twitter.com/v02DUKhGlU
— Squawka (@Squawka) September 3, 2022
It is easy to see why Chelsea were willing to thrash out a nine-figure bid to sign him, since he is no longer a maverick player who shows up against lesser sides and is rapidly becoming a clutch performer. A truly world-class talent, Leao demonstrated incredible chemistry with Olivier Giroud and Sandro Tonali, even assisting the former’s goal and stood out as the man of the match.
Olivier Giroud: 8/10
Giroud had multiple chances on crosses and corners in the first half, but he could not guide anything on goal. However, he sprung to life in the second half, producing a deft one-touch finish to put AC Milan ahead. It was an expertly-taken finish to complete the comeback.
Brahim Diaz: 6/10
Introduced after an hour and caused Inter a fair few problems with his nifty footwork, elusiveness and some bursts through the middle.
Alexis Saelemaekers: 6/10
Saelemaekers added fresh legs down the right, but he was required to defend quite a lot when AC Milan switched to a back-three system, with him being the right wing-back.
Divock Origi: 6/10
Origi used his pace to drive forward and gave the Rossoneri some breathing room when Inter piled on the pressure.
Simon Kjaer: N/A
Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Tommaso Pobega: N/A
Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Samir Handanovic: 5/10
Handanovic was called into action quite a lot and had a mixed game. The Inter Milan skipper made a couple of nice saves early on, but he was eventually unable to stop a rampant, in-form AC Milan attack. He could not have done much to prevent the first goal, but eyebrows will be raised about the second goal, where he clearly should have done much better.
Milan Skriniar: 6/10
A sub-par performance from Skriniar. While he was not quite as culpable for the defensive issues in the match, he was caught out by the pace of Leao frequently.
Stefan de Vrij: 3/10
Stefan de Vrij had a forgettable night. It was easily his poorest performance in an Inter shirt for a long while, and it looked like it was coming in his recent performances because of his error-prone nature and reduced athleticism at 30 years old. He was not efficient in winning duels; he did not do a great job of tackling, intercepting the passing lanes or clearing his lines.
He did not contribute much to the attack either, with zero long balls attempted. Not to mention, de Vrij’s positioning was all over the place, and he was another central defender out of the back three to be hooked off by Inzaghi.
Alessandro Bastoni: 3/10
Bastoni was effective with passing, completing over 92% of his passes in the match. However, he was at fault for two of Milan’s goals, while his positioning was questionable when he allowed Giroud far too much space in the box, and the French striker man made Inter pay. Hooked rightfully off the pitch after a poor 60 minutes.
Denzel Dumfries: 5/10
Dumfries struggled to produce the goods on the right wing, as he was involved in a heated battle with Hernandez, whose physicality and persistent fouling stifled his pace and inventiveness. He was on a tightrope following a yellow card and rarely tracked back to help out de Vrij and let Hernandez get the better of him.
Nicolo Barella: 6/10
His potent offensive threat was neutralised by Milan’s famous and fearsome left flank. Barella played well in the first half, but he was unable to create many chances for his team as he was pinned back by Leao and the other AC Milan attackers.
Marcelo Brozovic: 7.5/10
Brozovic was by far the best Inter Milan player on the pitch, and he turned in a world-class performance despite his side struggling for large parts of the game. He broke play after play, both in attack and in the defensive third, as Milan’s central midfielders sought to control possession. Scored the opening goal as he split the Milan defence with an intelligent run before converting a simple opening.
Hakan Calhanoglu: 5/10
At times, Calhanoglu was hit or miss throughout the match, at times working hard and winning duels to create opportunities. At other times, he looked lackadaisical and ineffective in the final third.
He became almost anonymous following his mistake that led to Milan’s opener, but he did look a bit lively after the substitutions and put a solid attempt on goal in the second half, forcing a magical save by Maignan. However, that does not take away from the fact that it was a dismal overall display against his former club.
Matteo Darmian: 7/10
Darmian was actually one of the better performers for Inter on the night. He got forward well to give Calabria plenty of problems in the channel and was involved in a few nice interplays as he provided the assist for Dzeko after an intelligent run. He may not be Ivan Perisic, but still, Inter could have used him more in the attacking third.
Joaquin Correa: 6/10
Correa started off decently and got an assist for the opening goal. But he fell off a cliff after that, as he was another player who went missing until he was hooked off. He needs to be more consistent to nail down a spot in the starting XI.
Lautaro Martinez: 6/10
Martinez was anonymous for a big chunk of the match as, without the presence of a Dzeko or Lukaku, he looked like a lost cause. He struggled to keep possession in the first half and could not deal with the physicality of Kalulu and Tomori. He looked much more dangerous after Edin Dzeko’s introduction. Had one good opportunity, which he skied well over.
Federico Dimarco: 6/10
In the 64th minute, Dimarco came on to replace a horrible Alessandro Bastoni, and the impact was evident. He defended aggressively, made dynamic runs, and played teasing balls into the opponent’s box. Should have started the game with that type of performance.
Edin Dzeko: 7/10
Dzeko came on for Joaquin Correa in the 64th minute, and he provided more of a focal point up front for Inter. He not only got a good goal but helped Inter create all sorts of problems for AC Milan in the second half, nearly securing a smash-and-grab draw.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan: 6/10
The Armenian playmaker managed a shot, won most of his duels, and snapped into a couple of tackles in his brief cameo, as he continues to knock on Inzaghi’s door for a starting berth.
Robin Gosens: N/A
Did not play long enough to be rated.
Danilo D’Ambrosio: N/A
Did not play long enough to be rated.