Inter Take Revenge And Advance In The Coppa Italia

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Played at San Siro in Milan on January 26th, this Derby Della Madonnina was worth a spot in the semi-finals of the Coppa Italian competition, and it was Inter who took the win in the late evening. 

 

The teams started slow and composed without leaving spaces open for either of the oppositions to exploit. Around the 25th minute, Inter shifted gears and created a couple of chances that were handled well by the Milan defence. This shift left Inter vulnerable in the back and at the 31st minute Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s shot rang the post and sunk in the back of the net, after Inter failed to clear the ball from the danger zone. 

 

Inter looked for a response immediately, but the tension was high and the nerves hot. After a poor challenge from Milan’s captain and center back Alessio Romagnoli on Lukaku, the Belgian giant was unhappy and faced off to the Italian centre back to let him know a thing or two. 

 

The veteran Zlatan Ibrahimovic also jumped in the mix and the two leading men for Inter and Milan squared off head to head in what is now an iconic picture of this night. The two were both booked by the referee, who then called for half-time, as the players had lost their cool and were out of control. 

 

Apparently, Ibrahimovic irritated Lukaku by insulting his mother, to which the Belgian responded with a meeting in the tunnel at the end of the match. As the teams headed for the entrance of the tunnel, cameras pointed at Lukaku picked up the out of control Belgian monster yelling “you want to talk about my mother?” repeatedly, and having to be held back by teammate Alessandro Bastoni and members of the Inter staff.

 

I imagine Inter’s coach Antonio Conte spent much of his 15 minute break cooling Lukaku down, as he much needed the striker on the pitch to lead the team. The same can’t be said for Zlatan Ibrahimovic. As the game restarted in the second half, it only took the veteran 13 minutes to foul Kolarov from behind and pick up his second yellow, forcing him to leave the pitch. 

 

From here on out, it was downhill for Inter, who picked up a penalty in the 70th minute after a challenge from Rafael Leao swept the feet from underneath Barella. After the VAR check confirmed the penalty, Lukaku banged his penalty off the bar and into the net, equalizing the game for Inter. 

 

By now, Conte had brought on Lautaro Martinez to add another threat against the already wounded Milan. The Argentine combined well with Lukaku and had a chance himself on a breakaway after a mistake from the Milan defence let him through to goal, but goalkeeper Tatarusanu was able to deflect his shot. 

 

There were 10 added minutes of extra-time as there was a long break during the second half to switch referees. Paolo Valeri pulled a muscle in his tight and could no longer continue officiating the match, so the fourth official present took his spot. 

 

Inter kept a relentless pressure on Milan in the last 20 minutes and had plenty of chances to score. Conte was looking to close the game, and brought on Ashley Young, Achraf Hakimi and Christian Eriksen. After Lautaro Martinez won a free kick just outside the box in the 97th minute, courtesy of a poor tackle by Meite, Christian Eriksen transformed it with an inch perfect freekick that left Tatarusanu glued on the spot, unable to answer to such precise finish. 

 

As the ball sunk into the Milan net, Inter’s players ran to Eriksen in joy and celebrated the completion of the comeback. The happiest of men however, was Antonio Conte, who will feel he has brought Eriksen out of a long slump and finally integrated him into a squad where he can shine like the talented player he is.