Inter Milan took a giant step toward returning to the Champions League final for the first time since 2010, defeating cross-city rival AC Milan 2-0 in the first leg of their semi-final at San Siro on Wednesday.
The Nerazzurri overwhelmed their opponents early on, with goals from Edin Džeko and Henrikh Mkhitaryan within three minutes putting them in control. The second leg is set to take place on Tuesday, with the winner facing either Real Madrid or Manchester City in the final.
Milan, who were missing key forward Rafael Leão due to injury, struggled to find their rhythm in the face of Inter’s early onslaught. Džeko opened the scoring in the eighth minute, getting in front of Davide Calabria to hook in Hakan Çalhanoğlu’s corner.
Mkhitaryan then made it 2-0 soon after, expertly lifting the ball over Mike Maignan after being set up by Federico Dimarco.
Milan had only conceded one goal in their past six Champions League matches but were unable to keep up with Inter’s high tempo. Çalhanoğlu came agonisingly close to making it 3-0 in the 13th minute, hitting the post with a long-range effort.
The Rossoneri had a chance to get back into the game in the 63rd minute but Sandro Tonali’s shot hit the post and bounced out.
Despite the defeat, Milan manager Stefano Pioli remained upbeat, saying: “It’s not over yet. We need to go into the second leg with the belief that we can turn this around.” His Inter counterpart Antonio Conte, meanwhile, hailed his side’s performance, saying: “We put in a great display, but we know that the tie is not over yet. We need to be just as focused and determined in the second leg.”
The match, dubbed the “Euroderby” in Italy, was played in front of a packed San Siro crowd, with both sets of supporters creating an electric atmosphere.
The second leg promises to be just as intense, as Milan look to overturn the deficit and keep their hopes of reaching the final alive.