Inter Milan are into the Champions League final after Lautaro Martinez’s goal secured a 1-0 win over AC Milan and a 3-0 aggregate victory at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.
With the onus on Milan to attack, the first half was their strongest of the tie, but they still could not break through the stubborn Inter backline.
Brahim Diaz squandered their best chance when he received a cutback unmarked and 12 yards from goal, but his tame effort was brilliantly saved by Andre Onana. The goalkeeper should never have been given a chance to make a stop, no matter how impressive.
The fit-again Rafael Leao also came close, but shot narrowly wide after reminding everyone what Milan missed in the first leg with a surging run.
Inter Milan took what little sting there was out of the match following the break and put the end result beyond doubt on 74 minutes when Martinez played a one-two with Romelu Lukaku and crashed in a near-post shot.
Mike Maignan, impressive throughout the tie, denied Martinez and Lukaku late on to stop it from becoming a rout, but that nor a flurry of yellow cards could take the gloss off a wonderful night for Inter.
Inter Milan have not reached the Champions League final since the 2009-10 season when they won the competition as part of a historic treble under Jose Mourinho, and a double could yet be on the cards this time around as they face Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia final a week tomorrow.
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Inter Milan Vice-President wants to avoid Madrid
After completing a 3-0 aggregate win over fierce rivals AC Milan, Inter Milan vice-president Javier Zanetti was quick to state his preference for avoiding record 14-time champions Real.
“I would like to avoid Real Madrid because the competition seems made for them,” former captain Zanetti said.
But, regardless of what happens in the final, football journalist Guillem Balague believes it is “a miracle” that three-time winners Inter have made it this far.
The Nerazzurri finished second to Bayern Munich in a group that also contained Barcelona, before going on to beat Portuguese clubs Porto and Benfica and prevailing in the first Milan derby in European competition for 20 years.
“In the next few days, we will realize what we did,” manager Simone Inzaghi said.
“For us, it was a dream but we have always believed in it.
“It was an extraordinary path and winning a derby in the semi-final like this brings great satisfaction.
“Madrid and City are two of the best teams in Europe.”
World Cup winner Lautaro Martinez, who scored the only goal in Tuesday’s second leg to begin the celebrations among the Inter supporters, echoed his manager’s sentiments.
“It is an incredible joy, I am delighted. I thank my family. This sport is the most beautiful thing in the world,” Martinez said.
“Playing in the Champions League final is a dream.”
While keen not to face serial-winners Real, Zanetti, part of Inter Milan’s 2010 Champions League-winning team, did not lose sight of what the club had achieved.
“It is a great emotion. The group deserved to play in a Champions League final after 13 years,” Zanetti told Sky Italia.
“We are waiting to know the name of our opponents, but what this group has done is very important.
“The most important thing is to get there; it was a difficult path.”
This game was won and lost in the first leg. Milan dug themselves too deep a hole to get out of, while Inter Milan got into a position of strength they were never likely to relinquish. Remember, they began this second leg having won three straight editions of the Derby della Madonnina, conceding no goals across those matches.
While the Rossoneri were better on the night, they still struggled to create chances and rarely stretched Inter before tailing off badly. Leao showed enough to suggest the first leg may have been different were he fit, but injuries are a part of football and Milan cannot pin their turgid first-leg showing entirely on the Portuguese’s absence.