Milito 10, Pandev 66
This was supposed to be a balanced encounter, considering the contrasting forms of the two Milanese sides in the last few weeks. But the way Inter destroyed Milan while playing with a man down for most of the match confirms that no Serie A team is close to challenging Inter for the Scudetto.
Inter dominated the game until the sending off of Wesley Sneijder midway through the first half. Their swift, powerful counter-attacking play proved to be too much for the Rossoneri. Diego Milito’s deadly finishing prowess was there for everyone to see as he caught up with Antonio Di Natale for Capocannoniere title. It is incredible that Lazio had to release a player of Goran Pandev’s caliber for zero compensation. The Macedonian hit-man was not intimidated by the Derby and capped a glorious night with an assist and a goal. Javier Zanetti lived up to his nickname il Trattore as he put in an inspired captain’s performance. Maicon seemed to be back to his marauding best after a few dodgy games. Given the commanding performance of Sneijder when he was on the pitch, the Nerazzurri would have inflicted even more damage on Milan had they finished with 11 men.
The Rossoneri did get a huge share of the possession after being a man up, but could not do anything with it. Inter’s defence and midfield seemed to be reinforced with steel. Milan sorely missed Alessandro Nesta as his substitute Giuseppe Favalli had a nightmare of a game. None of the Milan players rose to the occasion. Marco Borriello suddenly seemed to be an average striker. Ronaldinho’s poor night was rounded up by Julio Cesar who saved his penalty in the dying minutes of the match. Coach Leonardo will be questioned as to why Filippo Inzaghi was not introduced sooner.
There were a number of talking points in the match. Referee Gianluca Rocchi made several questionable decisions throughout the match. He booked Lucio on 25th minute for an apparent dive. The question of whether it was indeed a dive was overshadowed by what happened next as Sneijder sarcastically applauded the referee in his face. Rocchi did not find this amusing and showed a straight red card to the Dutchman, sparking furious protests from Inter players and the bench. In the second half, Favalli’s foul on Maicon which led to Pandev’s goal was questionable. Lastly, in the dying minutes of second half, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s shot was blocked by Lucio with his arm for which he received a second yellow, reducing Inter to nine men. However, the handball was probably unavoidable and inadvertent as the powerful shot was directed at Lucio’s hand.
It is well established Jose Mourinho is a sore loser. That he is graceless in victory was proved by his post-match comments in which he said that Inter could have won with seven men on the pitch. Marco Materazzi added salt to Milan’s wounds by celebrating on the pitch wearing Silvio Berlusconi’s mask, thereby taking away minuscule of grace left. To see that class and success can coexist, Mourinho and Co should take a look at Barcelona.