Sunday, 15 February 2009

Passion and grace

Who said Italian football was defensive and dull? While not everything in Serie A compares to this, tonight's buzzing clash between Inter and Milan at the imposing Stadio Giuseppe Meazza provided a feast of entertainment and numerous discussion points - after a somewhat stop-go start laced with niggling fouls. Thankfully, though, the derby passion didn't boil over into long-term recrimination.

As a game, this was superior to almost anything I've seen in England's self-appointed "best league in the world" this season, notwithstanding sparkling moments from Manchester United and (earlier on) Arsenal. Fabulous technique, exquisite touches, robust challenges, flowing moves, really good goals, near misses and several fine saves. It had a bit of everything.

AC Milan can count themselves unlucky not to have claimed a point. They dominated periods of the match. But they were let down by a slightly square back four and failure to capitalise on neat build-ups from midfield. David Beckham was effective when he had the ball, but he had a relatively quiet night for Milan. He had to go off in the 57th minute with a hamstring complain, following his midweek injury. So that would be it, I guess.

Inter's first goal was clearly off Adriano's arm, which he was raising as the ball fell from his head. In my opinion it should have been disallowed. Pippo Inzaghi had three great chances for Milan. You would have expected him to claim one of them. The goal he 'scored' late in the second half was immediately ruled out by a yellow flag. This is a man who Alex Ferguson once described as "probably being born in an offside position." You can see why, and the AC support groaned. Not this neutral though. It was well worth the watch on BBC3 or (in my case) streamed online.

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