The latest Derby Della Madonnina provided entertainment and controversy but ultimately proved disappointing for both managers.
Milan were looking to move up to second and apply some pressure to Juventus and were seconds away from securing the local bragging rights when Ivan Perisic restored parity.
The draw means all the smart Serie A betting cash is on Juve to make it 6-in-a-row and lift their 33rd Scudetto, while the Milan clubs have plenty to contemplate.
A Fair Draw
Former Liverpool player Suso is becoming an important player for Milan and after receiving the ball from Giacomo Bonaventura he curled the ball home from about 16 yards out. It was a great winger’s goal to open the scoring in the 43rd minute and there was very little goalkeeper Samir could do to stop it.
The controversy came later as Milan were vehemently protesting a refereeing decision not to call a foul on Manuel Locatelli, Inter took advantage with a quick throw. Antonio Candreva was able to stroll across the edge of the Milan area and fire past Gianluigi Donnarumma with an outstanding shot into the top corner from 25 yards out.
Suso became the AC Milan derby hero with his second goal of the game after encouraging interplay with Carlos Bacca. After receiving the ball back from Bacca, Suso manoeuvred past two Inter defenders and poked the ball home for a memorable goal for the Spaniard.
Inter caused late drama by snatching an equaliser right at the death with even Handanovic leaving his goal-line to attack their late, late corner. Perisic, who was profligate with a number of missed chances, became the Inter hero after turning the ball in from close range. The equaliser was probably deserved and means Milan remain third and level on points with Roma and seven points behind leaders Juventus, while Inter move up to ninth.
What now for Milan?
AC Milan were briefly considered Scudetto challengers following their Juventus victory, but they lost to Genoa two days later. That 3-0 defeat at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris remains Milan’s heaviest of the season and the fact it happened immediately after their best result, highlights the inconsistency of this team.
With Juventus entrenching their domestic dominance, Milan manager Vincenzo Montella is unlikely to be dreaming of a title, but a spot in the Champions League would represent a good league season. Milan have the sixth youngest squad in Serie A and their progress offers hope for future challenges, but they simply lack the consistency to embark on a title challenge. Montella will be buoyed by his team’s ability to create chances and their resilience in often coming back from losing positions this season. Yet their inability to prevent crosses from the flanks and their defending at set-pieces could cost them.
What now for Inter?
After dispensing with the services of former Ajax boss Frank De Boer so quickly, Stefano Pioli becomes the 9th manager at the San Siro since Jose Mourinho left in 2010 after winning a Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League treble.
Pioli will be heartened by Inter’s tenacity in rescuing a point in his first game in charge but will be acutely aware of the problems that require his attention. Their key weakness appears to be finishing chances and striker Mauro Icardi was the main culprit against Milan, although several players spurned opportunities in a dominant first half.
Although there is still plenty of football to be played, this would appear to be a season of transition for Inter and they are unlikely to improve on last year’s 4th place finish. Whether the Inter hierarchy will give Pioli the time and money required to challenge Juventus in 2017/18 remains to be seen. Pioli will need to build on the set-piece and aerial strengths of his team as well as addressing their woeful finishing if Inter are to challenge for a European position this season.
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