Inter Milan, the last Italian club to conquer the Champions League in 2010, beat AC Milan again (1-0), after the 2-0 first leg, to bring the country of Calcio back to the final. .
Rafael Leao, who the Rossoneri were counting on to turn around a badly embarked situation, struggled to find spaces against a disciplined Nerazzurri. And it was Lautaro Martinez who emerged to extinguish the last Milanese hopes with a dry strike (74th) after a closed and chopped match.
Inter Milan will obviously be the outsider in the final against the stainless Real Madrid with 14 coronations (the record) or the hungry Manchester City in search of a first crown in C1.
But the Nerazzurri, who did not hope for such an end to the European season after inheriting Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona in the group stage, will try to assert their character and their defensive solidarity, which was enough against the Rossoneri.
As against FC Porto (1-0, 0-0) in the eighth then Benfica (2-0, 3-3) in the quarters, Inter Milan knew how to manage their first leg advantage to ensure their qualification for a sixth final and a possible fourth coronation after those of 1964, 1965 and 2010.
Leao next door
If they did not have the weapons to fight with Naples this season in Serie A, the Nerazzurri can end the season with three titles in their pocket since they will also play the final of the Italian Cup on May 24, against Fiorentina , after having already won the Italian Super Cup in January, already against AC Milan (3-0).
Against Milan, they took great European revenge after falling against the Rossoneri in C1 during their two previous confrontations, in 2003 in the semi-finals and in 2005 in the quarter-finals.
A year after their title of Italian champions, Olivier Giroud, very discreet on Tuesday evening, and his partners end the season with low morale, already beaten four times by Inter in as many matches in 2023.
The long-awaited return of Rafael Leao, absent in the first leg, will therefore not have been enough to accomplish this almost impossible mission: to go up two goals to an Inter in full confidence, which remains on eight consecutive victories.
The Portuguese seemed to be looking for his marks for a long time, starting by losing a ball and going down low, even if he still almost changed the face of this match blocked on one of the accelerations of which he has the secret, concluded with a shot from just next door (38th).
Turpin whistled a lot
This acceleration was the best opportunity for the Rossoneri of the first period with that missed by Brahim Diaz, who struck far too softly on a center back from Sandro Tonali. André Onana went to bed without a problem (11th), after almost being surprised on a long shot from Theo Hernandez (5th).
Inter, in place, was generally wait-and-see, determined to “manage” contrary to what his coach Simone Inzaghi said the day before.
In this committed match, Clément Turpin was for a long time the most prominent Frenchman on the field, with no less than 22 whistled fouls during a choppy first period where the game never picked up speed.
The Blues goalkeeper Mike Maignan, however, gave him competition by releasing a new miracle save on a deviation from the head of Edin Dzeko just before the break (41st), while Inter was finally enterprising.
Same closed match and same impotence of the Milanese attackers in the second half.
A helplessness that turned into frustration when Inter Milan extinguished the last rossoneri hopes with a tight shot at the near post from Lautaro Martinez that Mike Maignan could only graze (74th).
The Argentinian “Toro” can dream of lifting the Champions League a few months after winning the World Cup. Maignan and Milan will have to whip to get fourth place in the league now, to hope to find the C1 next season.