Inter advance to Champions League final

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Inter booked their spot in the 2023 Champions League final with a 1-0 victory and dominant 3-0 aggregate win over city rivals AC Milan.

Having started far too slowly in the first leg, Milan had a glorious chance to put Inter under pressure early on in the second, but Brahim Diaz couldn’t beat Andre Onana following a square ball. The Nerazzurri grew into the game, limiting their opponents and protecting their aggregate lead, but lost Henrikh Mkhitaryan through injury and then breathed a sigh of relief when Rafael Leao whipped a vicious shot narrowly past the post just before half-time.

Failing to make a dent in the 2-0 aggregate deficit before half-time seemed to trouble Milan, who struggled to break down Inter after the break. Simone Inzaghi’s side kept their city rivals at arm’s length inside a rampant San Siro. The stadium – this week filled with Inter fans – completely erupted when Lautaro Martinez fired a low shot through the hand of Mike Maignan to extend his side’s lead, ultimately securing their place in the final.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. On a night where it was time for heroes, Martinez stole away the spotlight from AC Milan and sealed Inter’s spot in the Champions League final just as the game headed towards what could’ve been a cagey final 15 minutes. The Argentine didn’t have too much joy on the whole, but ran hard and showed a clinical edge that he has sometimes lacked to ensure the Nerazzurri would be packing their bags for Istanbul.

On his return to fitness, Leao was thrust straight back into the starting XI – and understandably so with Milan two goals down on aggregate. But their talisman was unable to really get into the game like he has done so often over the last two years, his slaloming runs and fantastic efforts on goal kept to an absolute minimum by Inter’s right flank. Much like the first leg, with Leao not involved, Stefano Pioli’s side lacked any consistent threat to hurt Inter with, or disrupt their shape enough to force a goal.


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