Napoli's defeat at Bologna made Udinese nearly sure of reaching the third place - a draw would be enough for Guidolin's team to secure their place in the 2012-13 Uefa Champions League. Inter, now 6th, at the moment are out of Europe, as Napoli (same points but better goal difference) and Lazio (one point ahead) are better placed.
Nerazzurri have to face Lazio in the last game of the season and a win would mean Europa League, which can be a little distracting but Inter without European football is something not very in line with the best tradition of this club. But that's future. Let's get back to the Derby.
Inter defeated AC Milan for the second time this season. Two wins out of two games are no fluke. But there's a huge difference between the first match win and the last one. Under Ranieri Inter chose to defend deep, allowing AC Milan to dictate game's tempo. Inter found the net on the counter and managed to survive many times. Nerazzurri showed resilience, pride and great personality but AC Milan had at least four clear opportunities to score. Very different stuff this time.
Stramaccioni chose to put aside the 4-3-3, opting for a 4-4-2 with a line of four in midfield (Zanetti, Cambiasso, Guarin, Alvarez) and Sneijder upfront with Milito. Changing scheme is regarded by many pundits as a sign of fear if you lose, a sign of cleverness if you win. Wrong approach to judge only on the outcome basis. Stramaccioni's ability was not confirmed by the final result, which was influenced by many independent factors, but far more by the initial 30 minutes. Inter's midfield was designed to match AC Milan dynamic diamond Van Bommel-Nocerino-Muntari-Boateng: many muscles, no brain. Rossoneri's offensive play relies on Ibra and Robinho winning one vs ones, the all-muscles midfield has just to provide them the bullets. So it was very clever to put Sneijder not in the centre of the battlefield, in order to keep him fresher and sharper where it really mattered (between AC Milan's two lines).
An early miss from Ibrahimovic was immediately punished by Milito who scored at the minute 14. Lucio scored the second five minutes later but he was rightly judged offside. At this stage Guarin was the player creating more problems to AC Milan. The former Porto midfielder still lacks an acceptable condition but it is also plain to see how he adds a new dimension to Inter's game. The first save of the game for Julio Cesar arrived at the minute 29, when he had to control a 25 yard Van Bommel shot. Four minutes later Abbiati saved a là Cech on Cambiasso's header - the tv replay suggested the ball crossed the line. At the minute 35 Ibrahimovic failed to score from a very easy position. Despite this chance AC Milan looked really in confusion. Without direction. Then at the minute 42 the referee came to the rescue: Julio Cesar stopped Boateng, touching the ball with such a good timing that it was hard to believe Rizzoli's decision to punish Inter goalkeeper's play. From the penalty spot Ibra scored the equalizer.
In the very first minute of the second half the former Inter striker gave AC Milan the lead. At the minute 49 Wesley Sneijder came close to draw with a fantastic shot from 40 yards saved by Amelia. One minute later Samuel was clearly fouled by Muntari in the penalty box but Rizzoli didn't see it. It's unbelievable how many mistakes a referee can make in a single game. The list kept going at the minute 51 when Milito was awarded a penalty for a soft touch by Abate. From the spot il Principe made 2-2. At the minute 54 Muntari missed an easy chance to score the third for AC Milan. Both teams struggled to keep their shape and Rossoneri looked now less tired than Nerazzurri.
Stramaccioni realised it too and chose Obi to replace Guarin. With 12 minutes to play, Rizzoli awarded another penalty to Inter to sanction Nesta's hand ball - Milito completed his hat-trick scoring the 3-2 from the penalty spot.
The last ten minutes did not record AC Milan's reaction but only three more gems for Interisti. The first came at the minute 81: one superb coast-to-coast from Javier Zanetti. Unstoppable. Really outstanding. The second, two minutes later, when Sneijder was replaced by Ivan Ramiro Cordoba: last game at San Siro for the Colombian centreback, who will always be remembered as a model pro. A moment to be treasured and celebrated adequately - that must have been Maicon's idea as the Brazilian invented the 4-2 with a thunderous shot which transformed a win in a triumph. Impossible to think of a better way to salute his team mate farewell and to end such an entertaining game (that confirmed Andrea Stramaccioni is someone who has the potential to do wonders for Inter).
Serie A 2011-12 / Day 37
Inter: Julio Cesar; Maicon, Lucio, Samuel, Nagatomo; Zanetti, Guarin (62' Obi), Cambiasso, Alvarez (75' Pazzini); Milito, Sneijder (84' Cordoba), Milito. Coach: Stramaccioni
Milan: Abbiati (35' Amelia); Abate, Nesta, Yepes, Bonera (21' De Sciglio); Nocerino, Van Bommel, Muntari (77' Cassano); Boateng; Robinho, Ibrahimovic. Coach: Allegri
Goals: Milito 14', 52' pen, 79' pen, Maicon 87'; Ibrahimovic 44' pen, 46'
Yellow cards: Zanetti, Nocerino, Julio Cesar, Abate, Alvarez, Van Bommel, Maicon