It was yet another Milan Derby at the San Siro and this time around the contest was a fiery one! In the age of El Clasico and the battle of supremacy between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, a couple of derbies lost their shine – meanwhile, the downfall of AC Milan and Inter played a role in killing the charm of the Milan Derbies.
But nevertheless, after a long time, the heat is felt at the iconic San Siro Stadium, and in the quarterfinals of the Coppa Italia – Inter got past their arch-rivals in another contest to remember.
Stefano Pioli made a number of changes to the starting XI from Saturday as Ciprian Tatarusanu, Diogo Dalot, Alessio Romagnoli, Alexis Saelemaekers, and Brahim Diaz all came into the line-up.
31': Zlatan scores
44': Zlatan, Lukaku get into it
58': Zlatan gets sent off
71': Lukaku scores
90+7': Eriksen winner
— cricketsoccer (@cricketsoccer) January 27, 2021
It was Milan who had the first decent chance of the game as Theo Hernandez’s driving run ended with Ibrahimovic feeding Leao who dragged his shot narrowly wide of the left post from around 20 yards out.
Inter then began to get their wing-backs into the game more and twice whipped in dangerous balls that had to be cleared by Kjaer in what was a fairly open start to the game considering the changes made by both sides.
Milan were inches away from taking the lead 13 minutes in when Leao crossed deep into the box and found the onrushing Ibrahimovic, who didn’t get a clean connection but ended up shouldering the ball just wide of the far post, narrowly evading a late run from Brahim Diaz.
There was a moment of confusion inside the box as Brahim Diaz blocked a free-kick in the wall and then booted his clearance at Alexis Sanchez’s back, which resulted somehow in the ball being directed on target but being caught by Tatarusanu.
⚽️ Zlatan opening the scoring.
? Lukaku & Zlatan squaring up.
? Zlatan sent off.
? Lukaku equalising.
? Eriksen scoring a 97th minute winner.
? The Milan derby had it all! pic.twitter.com/7ZTIkJQMSU
— SPORF (@Sporf) January 26, 2021
Straight after the incident, Simon Kjaer came off injured and that allowed new signing Fikayo Tomori to make his debut for the club.
Lukaku was causing problems for Milan’s now reshuffled backline, and Tatarusanu was called into action to deny the Belgian with a strong save with his boot after he got separation from Romagnoli to shoot, and second, later Romagnoli did well to block an effort from Inter’s number nine.
Despite the pressure from the Nerazzurri, it was Milan who took the lead just after the half-hour mark and it was the man for the big occasion again as Ibrahimovic scored. The 39-year-old brought the second ball down after a free-kick wasn’t cleared, manufacturing some shooting distance from Kolarov and firing a low effort between his legs and in off the far post.
? Ibrahimovic nutmegs Kolarov and plants it in off the far post The man for the big occasion…pic.twitter.com/6a7R9VtvB3
— SempreMilan (@SempreMilanCom) January 26, 2021
Theo Hernandez was on hand to rescue Milan eight minutes before the break clearing an effort off the line as a cross was stood up to Alexis Sanchez at the far post.
Tempers flared up just before the break after Lukaku took exception to a foul by Milan defender Alessio Romagnoli. Ibrahimovic stepped in and squared up to the furious Belgian, with the pair going head to head while exchanging heated words.
Lukaku could clearly be heard by the on-pitch microphone saying to the Swede, ”Well let’s go inside you b*tch!” in an invitation to engage in a further confrontation in the tunnel.
Referee Paolo Valeri attempted to regain some semblance of control by issuing both players a yellow card.
Lukaku is now set to miss out on the first leg of the semi-final against Juventus or SPAL.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku went head-to-head ? pic.twitter.com/8U7nMpH4kH
— Goal (@goal) January 26, 2021
Lukaku and Ibrahimovic were team-mates at one point, playing together at Manchester United during the 2017-18 campaign.
Last year, Lukaku spoke of his admiration for the Swede, saying he was impressed by his ability to remain in such good form at an age when most players have already retired.
“Ibra is a champion, I respect him,” Lukaku told Tiki Taka. “In Manchester, I could train every day with him that was the most beautiful thing for me. It will be nice to play against him. He is a great champion and professional.”
“For me, it’s not normal that he can do those things at the age of 38. He works a lot; he always gave me advice when we played together in Manchester United.
The match went on and Inter started to search the way for an equalizer.
"And now he gets his own back!"
Romelu Lukaku converts from the penalty spot to equalise for Inter after Zlatan's first-half opener…
Never in doubt ❄️ pic.twitter.com/6yHsNm4WSi
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) January 26, 2021
Inter made a change at the break as Hakimi came on in place of Darmian, with Tatarusanu forced into immediate action – firstly, from a Kolarov free-kick and then from the resulting corner as Sanchez nearly snuck one in at the near post.
Tomori was tested by a fired-up Lukaku, he blocked the effort of Lukaku from inside the box after Hakimi’s cut-back.
Romelu Lukaku kicked that penalty like it was the most important thing he will ever do. pic.twitter.com/AOHATo6dlF
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) January 26, 2021
The game was almost one hour old as the referee made a huge call and handed Ibrahimovic a second yellow card having been adjudged to have brought down Kolarov.
Pioli made an instant change as Ante Rebic came on in place of Brahim Diaz.
Red card for Zlatan!
After getting booked for a confrontation with Romelu Lukaku in the first half, Milan's goalscorer receives a second yellow for a clumsy challenge ? pic.twitter.com/IdQbgYm2oK
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) January 26, 2021
Perisic’s last involvement for Inter came when he headed a Vidal cross onto the roof of the net from close range, and on came Lautaro Martinez was brought on.
Inter were then given a very debatable penalty in the second half as Nicolo Barella threw himself to the floor, Lukaku dispatched it.
Inter as expected with their numerical advantage began to get on top in the game, and Tatarusanu made another excellent low save to deny Hakimi who got a shot off inside the box.
? | FOCUS
Although Milan lost, Ciprian Tătărușanu can be very proud of his performance today:
— SofaScore (@SofaScoreINT) January 26, 2021
Tatarusanu’s inspired form continued with two more fantastic saves, first of all, to deny Lautaro who had been put through on goal but checked back to shoot, and secondly to deny a close-range effort from Lukaku with a superb reaction save.
With six minutes left on the clock, Pioli made a double change – Rade Krunic and Samu Castillejo came on in place of Saelemaekers and Leao.
A sense of the inevitable: Cristian Eriksen ⚫️? pic.twitter.com/2TjnHOLTWu
— Marco ??? (@marchinovox) January 26, 2021
It would be Inter who got the winner in the seventh minute of 10 added as Meite gave away a free-kick around 20 yards out, and Christian Eriksen stepped up to curl an effort over the wall and past a stranded Tatarusanu. Replays showed that it was a very contestable free-kick.
The Rossoneri were out, but still, Pioli sounded confident.
Pioli was interviewed by Rai Sport after the game, with his comments transcribed by MilanNews and translated below.
“We are sorry to have gone out; we were keen on the competition. The game told us that we can keep up with a very strong team, having ten men has complicated the situation.”
On the Ibra-Lukaku incident, he said, “It influenced [the game], the first warning caused the sending off. They are adults and vaccinated, I don’t know what they said, it can happen, you have to get over it and think about the next one.”
? | GOOD NIGHT, INTER FANS!
— Inter (@Inter_en) January 26, 2021
“With ten it became even more difficult; we became a little naive about the penalty foul. It’s a good performance; I come out of this defeat very confident about our future.”
“The difference was only the fact that there were ten of us left, in eleven against eleven the game was open to any result and we were ahead.”
“He (Zlatan) got a bit caught up in the desire to help the team, he could slow down the game a bit but he can stay on.”
In the Italian Serie A, the Rossoneri are still on top and they are expected to give their very best to keep the top spot secured enough.