Inter Milan fans prepared for the Derby Della Madonnina not really sure what to expect. A new coach following the international break meant things would certainly be different, but in a game like this anything could happen.
Stefano Pioli with with a 4-3-3 for his debut as Inter manager. Gary Medel started in defense partnering Miranda with Danilo D’Ambrosio and Cristian Ansaldi out wide. Geoffrey Kondogbia got a fresh start with his new coach alongside Joao Mario and Marcelo Brozovic. Up top Mauro Icardi looked to end his dry streak against Milan with Antonio Candreva and Ivan Perisic flanking him.
Inter started off with a heavy press which seemed to confuse Milan especially when they tried to reset the ball out the back. Another unexpected move was the decision to push Joao Mario extremely far forward almost next to Icardi at times. Milan still could trouble Inter with the pace of M'Baye Niang though and early on he put Medel under a lot of pressure with the two of them grappling each other to the ground in the box. The pace of Milan wingers out wide was an avenue the home side would try to exploit throughout the match.
The high press ensured that Inter kept the ball throughout the opening 10 minutes but the Nerazzurri weren’t able to create many chances. In the 14th minute Joao Mario sent in a low cross that Icardi nudged into the path of Perisic yet the Croatian’s shot was straight at Gianluigi Donnarumma. Kondogbia and D’Ambrosio stepped up the pressure on Niang and began denying him the space to move around. The Frenchman in particular was showing up making challenges everywhere but his tenacity earned him a yellow card in the 19th minute.
In the 24th minute Perisic had another chance. Candreva played in D’Ambrosio and his early cross went over Icardi but Perisic got a head to the ball but it went wide. Kondogbia also flashed a header wide from a corner as Inter continued to search for the first goal. Perisic had another header that went wide before Medel had to come off with an apparent ankle injury and was replaced by Jeison Murillo. In the 38th minute Candreva fooled all the Milan players with a pass when they expected a shot and Icardi had timed a run to stay onside perfectly but was unable to control the ball in order to score. Samir Handanovic finally had to make a save in the 40th minute from a Mattia De Sciglio shot from distance. The home side had another chance a minute later on the counter but Bacca’s shot was saved as well. They took advantage with their third chance in less than 30 seconds later, Bonaventura found Suso on the counter and he got just an inch of space inside Ansaldi to curl his shot past Handanovic. Despite Inter having the majority of possession and chances throughout the half, the away side was behind at the halftime whistle.
Both teams looked for goals early in the second half, Giacomo Bonaventura and Candreva both challenging their opposing keepers. The Inter winger would not be denied though and in the 53rd minute he leveled the scoreline. A quick throw in while the Milan players were complaining gave Candreva space and he blasted home from distance. Suso refused to let Inter stay level and made sure Milan retook the lead 5 minutes later. Bacca picked him out on the counter and Suso beat Miranda and then Handanovic to make it 2-1. With Ansaldi already booked and risking a second with an uncomfortable amount of fouls, Pioli was forced to make another unwanted substitution pulling Ansaldi for Yuto Nagatomo.
In the 67th minute Candreva gave Perisic a chance with a delightful chip and his volley barely went past the post. In the 69th minute Icardi was played through but he scuffed his shot when handed a freebie when the offside flag wasn’t raised. The pressing wasn’t seen as much in the first part of the second half which allowed more time for Milan to breathe. In the 75th minute Pioli made his last change pulling Brozovic for Stevan Jovetic to switch to a more standard 4-2-3-1. In the 84th minute Perisic sent in a low cross and Icardi got a foot to it but Donnarumma made the save.
In the final few minutes Inter kept a hold of possession but the away side was unable to break down a Milan side hellbent on preserving their lead. Inter kept pushing and pushing and finally got their reward in stoppage time. Even Samir Handanovic came forward for a corner in the 93rd minute and Kondogbia/Murillo got a head to it pushing the ball to the far post where Perisic was on hand to tap home. The away fans exploded in joy as their team walked away with a point.
Though the honors were shared in this game Inter fans should be proud of their team. They performed well for a majority of the match and Stefano Pioli and his men should hold their heads high. Let’s see if the boys can pull out a win next time around!