A Lautaro Martinez goal sealed a “Euroderby” victory for Inter against AC Milan, winning 1-0 on Tuesday to reach its first Champions League final in more than a decade.
Much better in both games of the tie, the Nerazzurri won 3–0 on aggregate. They will be playing in their first final in Europe’s top club tournament since a memorable treble of league titles, Italian Cup and ‘champions’ under Jose Mourinho in 2010.
The move to score the goal in the 74th minute was thought out by Inter’s strong pairing of Lautaro and Romelu Lukaku. The Argentine forward finished with a left-footed shot at the near post after receiving an assist from Lukaku and then climbed over the stadium fence to celebrate.
After the final whistle, players from both the teams broke down in tears for different reasons. Those from Inter, along with the coaching staff and fans, celebrated with singing and dancing in front of the Curva Nord of the San Siro, the stadium the two teams share.
“Obviously there’s great feeling. It’s a dream I’ve had with the boys since the draw,” said Inter coach Simone Inzaghi. “We had to believe in ourselves and we had to get here on merit. Nobody gave us anything.
“We had to go a long way with many difficulties, but I think we have earned it. I think maybe tomorrow we will realize more what we have done, but it will be with the fans, our families Have a wonderful night, we couldn’t have asked for anything more.
In search of a fourth European Cup, Inter will face either Real Madrid or Manchester City in Istanbul on June 10. That crossing’s return match will be played this Wednesday in Manchester after a 1-1 draw in the first leg.
“It doesn’t matter who we play, he is going to be a formidable opponent with incredible quality,” said Inzaghi. “I will watch tomorrow’s game, like I watched the first leg… Obviously we have to be careful”
The wait for matching continues. He has not reached the final of the tournament since 2007, when he captured the last of his seven titles.
“At the moment, there is only disappointment, because we were able to reach the final,” said Milan strategist Stefano Pioli. “But if we think that last year we were eliminated in the group stage and this year we have reached the semi-finals, then we should be proud.
“It is clear that we dreamed of reaching the final. We wanted the final and beat our rivals.
The Rossoneri get back Rafael Leao. The Portuguese forward missed last week’s game with a hamstring injury and Milan are confident his return will be a blow.
This gap can be seen in the sense that Milan grew in intensity during the frantic early stages, but Pioli’s team lacked clarity.
Brahim Díaz tested with a weak shot that Inter goalkeeper Andre Onana dislodged without problem. Leo showed some danger by overflowing onto the left wing of the box shortly before the break, but his angled shot went over the far post.
Inter also generated their own chances to score the tie-breaking goal, highlighting Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s shot that went over the crossbar. Furthermore, Rossonero goalkeeper Mike Magnan was required to deflect a header from Edin Dzeko at point blank range.
The hosts sealed their passport to the final when “Toro” Martínez opened up space on the left of the box and exchanged passes with Lukaku, who came on for Dzeko less than 10 minutes later – hitting Megan For.
The goal sent the Rossoneri out, with Pioli testing a number of changes that came too late to do anything productive. The last hour of an hour became friction, with five reprimands.
It is a defeat that leaves Milan empty-handed this season after winning the Serie A title last year. They will have to fight hard to at least qualify for the next edition of the Champions League.