Serie A - Milan pip Inter in feisty derby

Sun, 14 Nov 21:42:00 2010

Milan overcame rivals Internazionale 1-0 in a feisty derby at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza despite being reduced to 10 men as they reassumed top spot in the Serie A table.

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In what was the first Derby della Madonnina for both Rafael Benitez and Massimiliano Allegri, the visitors knew that they could leapfrog Lazio to the top of the league table with a win, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic's fifth-minute spot kick got them off to the perfect start.

The Nerazzurri have won the past three Milan derbies, but even after Ignazio Abate was sent off for a petulant second yellow card in the second half, Rafael Benitez's side could not muster a response as the champions saw their 52-match unbeaten home run ended by their rivals.

Both sides had injury setbacks, with the hosts without Walter Samuel, Maicon, Sulley Muntari, Thiago Motta, and keeper Julio Cesar, while Milan were without Daniele Bonera and Massimo Oddo.

Milan were straight on the attack from the outset, and when Ibrahimovic was hauled down by Marco Materazzi just inside the Inter box, the Swede was presented a golden opportunity to open the scoring, which he seized and dispatched with aplomb, before declining to celebrate.

The former Inter striker almost doubled his tally in the 20th minute as he lashed a sweetly-struck volley beyond Luca Castellazzi, only for the ball to dip narrowly over the crossbar.

Two minutes later, Robinho had the ball in the back of the net after finding a composed finish from Ibrahimovic's incisive through ball, but the Brazilian was greeted with the offside flag as he wheeled away to celebrate.

Joel Obi was forced off with a hamstring injury eight minutes before the break and, after initially deciding to introduce Esteban Cambiasso, Benitez swiftly changed his mind and threw on Coutinho in his place.

Milan could easily have been reduced to 10 men on the stroke of half time as Gennaro Gattuso, who had already been booked earlier in the half, scythed down Wesley Sneijder cynically and could only thinly veil his relief at the referee's leniency.

Inter continued to be devoid of ideas going forward in open play, and it was left to Sneijder to force Abbiati to parry the ball wide with a rasping drive from a 30-yard free kick.

Milan made life extremely difficult for themselves just after the hour mark as Abate engaged in a petulant and entirely unnecessary bout of handbags with Goran Pandev on halfway, with both players earning a yellow card - a second in the midfielder's case, and he was dismissed.

But Allegri's side were undeterred by their numerical disadvantage, and Inter were unable to break their opponents down in a scrappy and frustrating second half.

The defeat sees Benitez's side fail to build on their fifth-place, while rivals Milan assume a one-point lead at the top of the Serie A table above Lazio.

Dan Quarrell / Eurosport

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