No matter how a season is going for either Milanese club, when the Derby della Madonnina rolls around fans of both teams sit up and pay attention. Even though both Inter and Milan are having poor seasons this match was seen as very important, not just for local bragging rights. Some saw it as the potential springboard for either side's revival, or at least as a measuring stick to see which team's recovery project was going better. So fans and managers alike were expecting the best from the players.
With Mancini losing both Guarin and Brozovic to suspension, the starting lineup was a little unexpected. The midfield was made up of Hernanes playing in the trequartista role he did so well in against Hellas Verona (displacing Shaqiri again), Kovacic got a start in the deeper midfield 3 along with Medel and 18 year old Assane Gnoukouri. Mancini said that he got the start because he trained and plays with no fear, and he would need that characteristic getting his first Serie A start in a match like this.
Inter started the match at a whirlwind pace, taking advantage of the passion and energy provided by the home fans to push Milan back into their own half, with Hernanes at the heart of most of the Nerazzurri's best attacking plays. Milan tried to respond on the counter through Suso but Handanovic was able to handle it.
Milan did seem to take the lead against the run of play though. A Suso free kick found De Jong whose shot was parried into the path of Alex to put away but the offside flag had already been raised. Soon enough Inter were also denied a goal by the linesman. On the counter Hernanes found Icardi with a through ball that he crossed for Palacio to slam home but Icardi had been offside at the time of the pass.
The standout performers of the first half were Hernanes and Gnoukouri. Hernanes had another solid performance like he had in the prior week pulling the strings behind the strikers and this run of form has been very good to watch. Hopefully he can keep it up (though the fact that these good performances have come with him in the trequartista role leaves questions to if Shaqiri might have to be pushed back onto the wings to accommodate them both). Gnoukouri proved Mancini correct in his decision to give him his first start, braking up Milan attacks and playing confidently even though he was the youngest on the pitch. With Medel picking up a yellow card and will miss the Roma match next week, the young midfielder might get yet another start.
The second half started with Milan controlling the ball for a brief period of time but then the rest of the match was basically all Inter. Palacio had a chance to take the lead when he got passed Diego Lopez but Mexes was able to block the ball from entering the net. Inter then had a very legitimate penalty appeal at the 63rd minute. Hernanes controlled a cross and went for a shot that struck Antonelli's outstretched arm but referee Banti refused to point to the spot.
The referees had one more treat in store for Inter though. When Hernanes crossed the ball and Mexes put the ball into his own net fans and players alike celebrated the home side finally taking the lead. But the referees disallowed the goal due Antonelli going down from Palacio in the buildup to that goal.
In the remainder of the match Juan Jesus, Obi, Palacio, Icardi, and D'Ambrosio all came close to scoring but none of them were able to give Inter the lead. In the end the game ended 0-0 and both teams took a point that really did neither side any good.
Inter played much better than Milan, that cannot be questioned. The Inter players had much more aggression and drive to win the game than their opponents, and they truly deserved to win the game. While one point is not what anybody wanted, a performance like that is acceptable. With a little more luck on their side the game could have easily ended 2-0 or 3-0 in Inter's favor. Hopefully Inter can have a performance like this next week (and be a little more lucky) and take advantage of a Roma side that has recently been slipping.