Mourinho on top as Inter hold out

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by Andy Blair, Chief Sports Correspondent INTER  2-1 MILAN As the on-off saga of David Beckham’s move to Milan continued, it was Inter who took the spoils, bragging rights and, most importantly, a 9 point lead at the top of the table.

Inter made the better start to the game and a free kick mid way inside the Milan half was floated into the box where an unmarked Ibrahimovic had a free header, but was unable to keep it down. The game, known for its passion, was stopped momentarily when a flare was thrown onto the pitch in front of the Milan goal which is a fairly common occurrence and which led to this fixture being abandoned a couple of years ago when the Milan keeper, Dida, was smacked on the head with one.

[caption id=”attachment_1787” align=”aligncenter” width=”300” caption=”The ‘special one’ is clearly not missing life at Chelsea”][/caption]

The opening quarter of a hour was a fairly even game with both teams not really creating any clear cut chances but both having an even amount of possession. Inter had a great chance to take the lead with good link up play between Ibrahimovic and Cambiasson ending with the Argentine playing a ball across the box for Stankovic who, with just the keeper to beat, pauses too long and is tackled excellently by Ambrosini. It was Milan who had the next chance when Ronaldinho played a ball in for fellow Brazilian Pato whose flick was well saved by Julio Cesar.

Then Inter that struck the first blow when an excellent cross from the right back Maicon was converted by Adriano somewhat unconventionally. The Brazilian’s header came back off his own arm and past the helpless Abbiati in the Milan goal. The much maligned Ronaldinho, back to playing with a smile on his face, was creating chances for Milan with his jinking runs. It was his cross that fell to Seedorf, whose effort was blocked and the ball looped out for a Milan corner.

But again it was Inter that stuck again, Stankovic making up for his earlier miss running onto a knock down by Ibrahimovic from a Muntari cross and slotting the ball comfortably into the bottom right hand corner of the goal. The goal was a big blow for Milan coming just two minutes before the end of the first half.

Both teams lined up the same for the start of the second half and almost immediately from a long ball forward Adriano was clean through on goal after a slip from Kaladze, but his shot was tame and went wide. But still inter pushed; another long ball up to the two big forwards created another chance after Kaladze missed the possible interception, allowing Ibrahimovic to race to the by line, but his cross had too much power on it for Adriano to get any contact.

Milan pushed up and, with Inter sitting back, had a couple of half chances. A free kick given away 30 yards out provided Milan’s expert set piece takers a chance to shine, but Pirlo squandered the chance to test the keeper.

Milan had a good penalty call waved away when Ambrosini was barged over in the box. He was lucky to escape a second yellow with a mistimed challenge on the edge of his own box a couple of minutes later, the resulting free kick was wasted by Ibrahimovic. David Beckam’s first taste of the Milan derby was ended 10 minutes into the second half when grimacing holding his hamstring he hobbled off to be replaced by forward Inzaghi as Milan switch to a 4-3-3 in an attempt to claw back the deficit. But it was city rivals Inter who have the better chances with both strikers coming close on a number of occasions to put the result well beyond Milan.

Then, the game opened up and both teams had good chances to score. A reverse pass from Ronaldinho set Jankulovski free in the Inter box and his cut back was converted by the teenager Pato to reduce the lead to 2-1. With that, Milan seemed revitalised and were pushing their city rivals. Adriano wriggled away from Maldini on the left and was clean through but his effort was well saved by Milan’s keeper. Milan then had the ball in the net for a second time. Inzaghi, the man ‘born offside’, was again offside as a wonderful cross from Pato came in from the right which he finished brilliantly but to no avail. Inter then switched to a more defensive style swapping goal scorer Adriano with the former arsenal midfielder Patrick Viera. Again Inzaghi went close, this time with a header which was just over, but again he was offside.

Both teams had chances to add to their tally but it was Milan who finished the stronger of the two with Inzaghi again coming close. It was Mourinho’s Inter side who won this thrilling encounter in typical Mourinho fashion, disciplined, hard working and unspectacular. For all Milan’s pretty football they were unable to win out and now trail Inter by 11 points.

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