AC Milan 3-2 Inter: Leao and Giroud star as the Rossoneri win a thrilling derby

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan took the share of the spoils from the derby as they beat Inter 3-2 in a thrilling game at San Siro on Saturday night.

It was Inter who took an early lead with Marcelo Brozovic capitalised on a defensive error to slot past Mike Maignan, but the equaliser came less than ten minutes later when Rafael Leao finished past Samir Handanovic.

The second half produced three more goals as Olivier Giroud finished first time to get yet another goal in the derby, and then Leao got another goal with a splendid run and finish with the game looking like it was put to bed at 3-1.

Edin Dzeko came off the bench to halve the deficit and make it a very nervous finish, but ultimately the three points would stay with the Rossoneri as they jumped above Inter into top spot for the time being.

AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli made five changes to the side that drew with Sassuolo in midweek as Davide Calabria, Pierre Kalulu, Sandro Tonali, Junior Messias and Charles De Ketelaere all came back into the side.

There was an absence of chances in the opening ten minutes but certainly no absence of tension, as Theo Hernandez and Dumfries got into another altercation – picking up from where they left off in the last league game – after the Dutchman had tumbled the left-back over.

The first real chance came in the 12th minute and it was for Inter. A cut-back from Dumfries found Brozovic just inside the box and the midfielder wound up a shot that was crucially blocked by Tonali.

Milan then thought they were inches away from taking the lead when Bastoni headed a cross onto his own crossbar, however the referee has whistled for a pull from Giroud.

Moments later Handanovic was called into action for the first time, producing a save at full stretch to deny a shot from Leao on the end of the box that was curling inside the far post.

It was Inter who took the lead in the 22nd minute, and it came from Brozovic after he had threatened before. Some good hold up play was followed by a feed into the Croatian midfielder whose run through the centre was not tracked, and he slotted past Maignan to open the scoring.

Milan went in search of an equaliser and had a couple of chances in quick succession. The first saw Calabria head over the bar from a Leao cross, and then Giroud turned and fired wide of the near post after bringing the ball down well.

The equaliser had been coming, and it came through Leao. Calhanoglu gave the ball away inside Inter’s half and Tonali seized possession, taking it to the edge of the box before feeding the Portugal international who hammered home first time into the far corner.

A flurry of chances then followed as the Rossoneri really grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck. Firstly Giroud again did well to let a ball drop and was unable to find the top corner from the left side of the box, then Theo Hernandez fizzed what would have been a stunning strike just over the bar, and De Ketelaere headed over from a corner when he should have done better.

The opportunities kept coming, with Giroud heading onto the roof of the net after a cross from quite far outside the box, and that came after a free-kick about 20 yards out failed to hit the wall when Tonali would have expected to do better.

No changes were made at the break, and the first big chance of the second half fell to Milan. A free-kick deflected and looped onto the head of Theo Hernandez near the penalty spot, but the Frenchman sent his header just wide of the post with Handanovic rooted.

Milan’s dominance in the game came to fruition as they took the lead nine minutes into the second half. Leao cut a ball back into the area where Giroud had dropped off and was waiting to receive it, and he finished first time with a shot across his body that rolled inside the far post.

The celebrations for the second goal hadn’t even died down by the time the third goal went in as Milan firmly took the ascendancy. A flick from Giroud was collected by Leao, and he got himself through on goal with a winding run that took De Vrij and Bastoni out of the game, finishing calmly past Handanovic to make it 3-1.

In the 67th minute, it was 3-2 as the game twisted once again. Edin Dzeko was brought off the bench and with virtually his first touch he got on the end of a low cross from Darmian to finish in off the post.

The open nature of the game very much continued as Inter began pushing for an equaliser, with Mike Maignan being called into action to deny a header from Lautaro Martinez that was heading in.

A double change was made by Pioli with Alexis Saelemaekers and Divock Origi coming on for Messias and Giroud, with Brahim Diaz having already replaced De Ketelaere.

Maignan made another incredible save to keep out Calhanoglu who took advantage of some confusion with another ball on the pitch to fire from 25 yards with a venomous effort that was flying into the top right corner.

With seven minutes left on the clock, Pioli made his final two changes as Calabria and Tonali were withdrawn in place of Simon Kjaer and Tommaso Pobega, with the team then having a three-man defence.

Leao had his eyes on a hat-trick and he will have wanted the chance back after spinning on the edge of the box and firing well over the bar when there was also the possibility of passing to Pobega.

Tags AC Milan Milan Inter


  1. Scores two, Assist one in a Derby, how lazy can Leao be? He should be scoring 10 and making 5 assists per game. MOTM no doubt… Derby Hero!!!

    Our defence didn’t was awful to say the least. Calabria was terrible… And the CBs for Inter’s first goal were dreadful….A lot more work is needed from our defence if we are to best the league’s offensive teams. Hats of to Maignan for making some incredible saves.

    For the love of Milan, what was the Brahmin – CDK change for??? Brahmin immediately showed his inefficiencies so after coming on.

    Our RW is non-existent… So painful to watch, attacking opportunities wasted by Calabria and Messias… At this rate, I’ll throw in Dest at RW. He can’t be worse than the potatoes we already have in that position 🤦🏽‍♂️. Origi wasted a couple of great chances too. We need to see him do better.

    The Theo-Dumfries rivalry is hilarious, but they started too early with it😂😂. It could have been worse..

    Tonali’s grit has to be applauded… He is gradually getting back to last season’s form….. And Bennacer is still a beast in MF.

    Guys there’s no need to panic just yet. This team can do great things. They just need the right motivation and the players need to regain their best form… It’s still early in the season, but the signs are there.

    Let’s enjoy the win guys. Good job by PIOLI and the team…  Forza Milan!!!

    @Z this one’s for you 🖕🏽

    1. I disagree the defence were awful, I think it’s the job Kessie was doing last season that’s missing – they’re suddenly open to having attacking midfielders running at them more – we saw Tomori in particular, but also Calabria, filling a midfield hole in front of the defence when one of Inter’s players stepped up.

      Also, credit where it’s due, they addressed the issue after the Brozovic goal and covered that space better, but that’s why more room opened on the flanks.

    2. “Scores two, Assist one in a Derby, how lazy can Leao be? ”

      I don’t think you know what the word lazy means. You can score 5 goals in a match and still be lazy.

      1. I guess you don’t understand pure sarcasm… That phrase was for the Leao haters… Please don’t be too quick to reply comments, understand them first.

    3. Leao’s fan boys have their 5 minutes.
      Great game by him and his fans.
      Great Victory by Milan and Milan fans
      We’ll see if he can stay consistent with his performance and effort.
      Something that fans and media has criticized him for. Only the fans with Leao blinders on couldn’t see that.
      Leao will have one good game and his fans will come out ” oh who is lazy now 2 goal 1 assist.” Great players perform week in week out . That’s what we want from Leao. You want only 1 good game a month, good for You.

  2. where is thouse ownership fans that keep calling Rafael Leao lazy and he doesn’t deserve his 7 million demand show your faces now after he save the derby against merda
    i say it for the million time players have different value and they deserve different salary depends on their value , salary cap is dumb idea

  3. Just one more fvckin time, for the Leão moronic bashers: wanna really get rid of Rafa Leão??? You make me laugh!!!


    1. One word for you: consistency. If you don’t know what it means, look it up. That’s what 7 Million Dollar Men need.

      But it’s a good starting point. Now ten similar games before Xmas break and he’s earned his 7M€.

        1. Still has played more bad games than good ones this season. I’ll stop once he plays more good games than bad ones. We’re not there yet. Time will tell if we’ll get there.

  4. Well, this game showed that our starting XI is stronger than Inter’s but our subs suck. Still need more training. Inter could spoil our night using their subs properly.

  5. Hands up, I was in the ‘sell Leao’ camp but what a performance that was. Giroud and Messias too. Messias’ performance will no doubt be overlooked but he ran himself into the ground for the team and often spread the play, bringing Leao in.

    This performance made me think “actually, this is a really good team” instead of thinking of them as overperforming. Not just the coaching, the discipline, the lack of ego, the work rate (from the substitutes like Diaz making lots of tackles on the edge of the box) but actually “you know, these players are really good”. And paid a lot less than their Inter counterparts.

    Even if the result had been a draw, it was a performs to make any Milan fan proud, well done guys.

  6. A great derby 👍

    Anyone who still say Leao lazy, overrated, etc, you kids should shut the f up and just go watch other clubs.

    Big salute also for Super Mike. If that’s Dollaruma, i bet we already lost like 5 goals.

  7. Finally Leao did what a 7 Million Dollar Men should. Although the match lasts 90mins and it would be nice to see him defend until the final whistle but I’ll let it slide this time as Maignan did the rest.

    Forza Milan!

      1. When you lead 3-2 and the opponent is inches away from scoring… You need to defend. If Inter would have scored one, they would have scored another too as they gained the momentum. Thank God for Maignan tough.

        1. Defenders defend. If inter had scored jr was because Tomori and Kalulu went to sleep on several occasions, even Maignan said this on the pitch. It’s not Leao’s job to prevent goals, but to create them.

          1. Two good scoring chances to Inter came after Leao’s sloppy plays. If those would have ended up in the Milan goal, Milan wouldn’t have won it and yet you would have praised that Leao did everything right and blamed the others for a goal that would have come from his error. So yeah, match lasts for 90mins (or more) and everyone needs to defend/play until the final whistle.

          2. “Defenders defend.”

            No club will ever win anything with that strategy. There’s 10 men on the pitch. 3-5 defending isn’t enough. It’s a team effort.

            I though that was obvious to anyone who follows football.

        2. If we conceded a third goal it would have been because Tomori and Kalulu became disorganized. Maignan seven said on the lotich they went to sleep. Defenders prevent goals, towards create them. Leao had a damn near PERFECT match.

  8. I disagree the defence were awful, I think it’s the job Kessie was doing last season that’s missing – they’re suddenly open to having attacking midfielders running at them more – we saw Tomori in particular, but also Calabria, filling a midfield hole in front of the defence when one of Inter’s players stepped up.

    Also, credit where it’s due, they addressed the issue after the Brozovic goal and covered that space better, but that’s why more room opened on the flanks.

  9. Anyone said Leao didn’t deserve MVP last year? Anyone said he is just good for several weeks at the end of last season? I did say it last season and I say it again, anyone can leave for free, as long as we get the second star before merda. Like kessie did, like romagnoli did. I dont care, players can come and go, but Milan glory is above everything. If we won silverware, money and sponsor will come. and it is not impossible if we keep winning trophy, we can pay a fair salary for those players

    1. Yep. Milan above anything. And it really is now or never to get the 2nd star before Inter.

      Winning means more money. More money mean better players. Just as you said.

  10. Its too much of difference attitude between the big game and low level team game, in the game against Sassuolo i dont see this kind of hunger from milan,
    And i see that Calhanoglu is still love milan, he help milan for whole 90minute with his $hit a$$ performance 🤣🤣

  11. Verry happy for the win and kudos to the boys. Pioli was about to cost us the game because after the introduction of Diaz Inter dominated the game, against Sasuolo he opted the wrong line up and we were saved by King Mike

  12. I wonder where the people who were disparaging Rafa will hide now. 3 superb crosses, 1 fabulous shot on target saved by their goalie, 2 goals (the second one a golazo) and one assist!

    He was a bit rusty and preoccupied with the transfer window and Chelsea’s push for him. Now with his mind at ease, he recovered his form pretty quickly and demonstrated to the doubters why he’s our best player. Forza Leão!

    The naysayers are ungrateful and forgetful. Leão was the league’s MVP last season and today he picked up where he left things last year. Superb Leão!

    1. No need to hide. I can say Leao did well tonight.

      Now let’s see if we can see similar displays more often and let him earn his 7M€ or will he fade back into shadows next week. Time will tell.

  13. Magic Eagle Maignan-the Saviour. 2 goals against him were not his fault. And the fact that he protected our goal for more threatening chances was clear for me to choose him as this match MOTM.

  14. we won today but the game could have gone alot better
    mister pioli should learn and apply 433 system like the system used by liverpool and manchester city to control or to apply fast counterattack and to help the two wide defender get more cover and to help Rafael Leao get less defensive responsibility because he has low stamina in the second half and to help players like Tommaso Pobega and Yacine Adli get some playing time using them in the current system two midfielder is asking for trouble ,
    today is good game by everyone except by calabria he doesn’t deserve to be a starter his to slow and often get beat by fast players he is great defender but he is just to slow and pierre Kalulu is just way better defensively and attacking

    1. Im of that opinion too, it would be very good to always switch to other formations durimg the later stages of every game, because our subs dont perfectly fit into the 4231 system, if we played 433 in 2nd half, we would be able to rest either of tonali or bennacer, while 2 other midfielders come for 433, we have many of them that suit perfectly into the 3 man midfield, bakayoko, krunic, vrancx, adli, even salaemakers and we would have the chance to rest one of the wingers too, either leao or messias.
      another switch is the 352 where leao becomes the2nd striker or bringing in origi/laztic/ibrahimovic/rebic, the 3 midfielders would remain the combination in the 433 and the 3 man defence can tomori/kjaer/gabbia/thiaw/kalulu, the wingers would be ballo/theo/dest/salae/florenzi/calabria.
      the rotation could make us survive the strenous fixtures season long, it would also confuse our opponents and open up games for us.
      for the coach, he meeds to also encourage long range shooting and train leao on bending in-swinger shots, imagine if he had mastered the art like insigne, he would score tons of goals for us, imagine if tonali, salae, brahim etc perfected their shooting, we would be surprising GKs from every angle

  15. Wow. Leao has Ballon D’or potential if he stays on track man. WHAT A PERFORMANCE. Maignan and Giroud were great as well. Theo lucky not to get sent off. Pobega looked decent as well in the few minutes he played.
    This match turned when INTER made those 3 subs and we did not make adjustments quickly enough. Luckily we survived that spell.
    It feels like our midfield is still a little too open and weirdly CDK played like a 6 today..I mean the guy was pushing guys off the ball and when he was removed, you could see how more open we became. I think Vrancx should get more game time just to add Muscle to the midfield man. But I am so happy with the win..needed that. Now we kick on and start UCL

    1. If we forget about Saele & Messias, pretty much all the Milan-players looked pretty solid. Inter was barely in the game for 60mins (and the rest they were dominating though). But Milan should have killed the game during that 60min run.

      1. Messias had a superb game. Work rate top notch, passing was excellent, decisions were good, crosses weren’t bad. He’s been poor so far this season but this was by far his best display, proper team performance from the lad IMO.

  16. Congrats to Milan! I have predicted if Inzaghi put Handa in starting eleven, then Inter will conceded a lot of goals. But our coach seems relucted to give Onana his chance.

  17. It was a great performance overall. We’re definitely better as a team than Inter. 4-2 or 3-1 would have been a more correct score.

  18. I’m one of those who wanted us to sell Leao, not because i hate him or something else, but i just dont wanna us having another Cashie,Dollaruma and Calhanoclue cases all over again getting 0 money from them, if Leao wanted to renew then good but as i see it now there’s no sign of it and it will be difficult to sell it next year, even if by any chance Redbird willing to accept his wage demand im pretty sure his agent will try to raise it again to 10M or something like it was with Raiola on Dollaruma, i hope im wrong and he will renew but we’ll see.

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