AC Milan 3-2 Inter: Player ratings as Rafael Leao inspires derby triumph

Rafael Leao (centre) had a hand in all three of Milan's goals against Inter
Rafael Leao (centre) had a hand in all three of Milan's goals against Inter / Marco Luzzani/GettyImages

Milan came from behind to claim a 3-2 victory against their city rivals Inter in a helter-skelter contest on Saturday evening, climbing to the summit of Serie A.

In an encounter where everyone was running to stand still, the Rossoneri fell behind to Marcelo Brozovic's well-worked opener. Rafael Leao swiftly fired Milan level before the break, and Serie A's reigning MVP teed up Olivier Giroud and nabbed his second inside an hour as Milan were well on top.

However, Inter didn't lie down, hitting back through Edin Dzeko to spark a breathless finale to a match which didn't ebb and flow so much as crash from one end of the pitch to the other.

Simone Inzaghi had to fend off suggestions that his Inter side were too open coming into the derby but it was Milan who were left exposed while trying to press. Receiving a line-breaking vertical pass from Samir Handanovic, Joaquin Correa played a one-two with Lautaro Martinez around the recklessly advanced Pierre Kalulu.

With Milan's aggressive backline strewn across the San Siro turf, Correa rolled the ball ahead of Brozovic, charging into the yawning chasm that was once a back-four and slipping the ball past Mike Maignan in the 21st minute.

Inter rapidly sunk back, subconsciously or otherwise, once they had taken the lead. Hakan Calhanoglu - a former Rossonero - swung a blind pass across Inter's half which Sandro Tonali snapped up, quickly shovelling it into the path of Leao. Letting the ball roll across his body, Leao fired a crisp left-footed shot into the top corner to ensure Milan only trailed for seven minutes.

Milan bombarded Inter's goal either side of the interval, deservedly edging ahead in the 54th minute through the hero of February's derby, Giroud. Inter initially dozed from a throw-in, letting Leao receive the ball on the byline and pick out the Frenchman in ample space inside the box. Unmarked by all three centre-backs, Giroud bobbled Milan into the lead.

The pair combined again six minutes later. Giroud delicately cushioned a back-heeled volley into the path of Leao. Smothered by three Inter players, the effervescent 23-year-old wriggled out of the cul-de-sac, opening his body to slot in his second and Milan's third of the night.

With his side second best and seeking a reaction, Inzaghi made a triple change after falling 3-1 down. One of that trio, Dzeko, fired the Nerazzurri back into the contest within three minutes of his arrival, converting Matteo Darmian's cross at the near post.

Dzeko's goal saw the pendulum of this utterly enthralling affair swing back in Inter's favour. Maignan was forced into a flurry of saves, rebuffing Lautaro from close range and tipping over Calhanoglu's blistering drive.

Milan vs Inter player ratings

1. Milan (4-2-3-1)

GK: Mike Maignan - 8/10 - Left exposed by his backline for the opener, Maignan bailed his defence out with a couple of superb stops after the break.

RB: Davide Calabria - 6/10 - The Milan-born skipper on derby day managed to keep a cool head as he went about his business professionally.

CB: Pierre Kalulu - 4/10 - Outrageously proactive, Kalulu couldn't afford to be held off by Lautaro for the opening goal.

CB: Fikayo Tomori - 5/10 - Utterly lost in the swirl of stripes for Inter's opener, Tomori managed to recover his composure thereafter.

LB: Theo Hernandez - 6/10 - Charging up and down the left half - because he cannot be limited to the touchline - of the pitch.

CM: Ismael Bennacer - 6/10 - Scurrying around midfield, mopping up a raft of loose balls. His influence faded as the game became increasingly stretched.

CM: Sandro Tonali - 6/10 - Steaming around midfield with fury and finesse. the Milan fan tired after the break.

AM: Charles De Ketelaere - 6/10 - A nagging threat lurking off Brozovic's shoulder.

RW: Junior Messias - 5/10 - Skirted around the fringes of a frenetic game.

ST: Olivier Giroud - 8/10 - Grew into the fast-paced contest, often finding space by standing still.

LW: Rafael Leao - 9/10 - Unplayable at times, two goals and an assist on derby day is the foundation for mythic figures.

SUB: Brahim Diaz (63' for De Ketelaere) - 5/10

SUB: Divock Origi (73' for Giroud) - N/A

SUB: Alexis Saelemaekers (73' for Messias) - N/A

SUB: Tommaso Pobega (83' for Tonali) - N/A

SUB: Simon Kjaer (84' for Calabria) - N/A

Manager: Stefano Pioli - 6/10 - Milan certainly upheld their pressing principles but almost to their own detriment at times.

2. Inter (3-5-2)

GK: Samir Handanovic - 5/10 - Unable to do much about Leao's superb strike.

CB: Milan Skriniar - 5/10 - Clumsy as he clattered around in both boxes.

CB: Stefan de Vrij - 3/10 - Giroud isn't hard to miss, but De Vrij and co all managed to fail to close the Frenchman down.

CB: Alessandro Bastoni - 4/10 - The after-effects of the illness he was struggling with during the week clearly hadn't fully subsided by Saturday.

RWB: Denzel Dumfries - 5/10 - Locked in an engaging battle with Hernandez from the opening exchanges when the pair clashed and both received a yellow card.

CM: Nicolo Barella - 4/10 - Had his abundant threat going forward muted by Milan's famed and feared left flank.

CM: Marcelo Brozovic - 7/10 - Chose his moment to surge forward cleverly - which was how he conducted himself through the derby.

CM: Hakan Calhanoglu - 4/10 - Recklessly swung the ball into the path of the red and black stripes he used to wear.

LWB: Matteo Darmian - 5/10 - Rarely got forward but did provide the assist for Dzeko on a sporadic surge up the pitch.

ST: Lautaro Martinez - 4/10 - Painfully anonymous for large swathes of the match.

ST: Joaquin Correa - 6/10 - Dovetailed brilliantly with his compatriot for the opener but faded from the contest afterwards.

SUB: Henrikh Mkhitaryan (64' for Barella) - 5/10

SUB: Federico Dimarco (64' for Bastoni) - 5/10

SUB: Edin Dzeko (64' for Correa) - 6/10 - Provided more of a focal point up front for Inter.

SUB: Danilo D'Ambrosio (84' for De Vrij) - N/A

SUB: Robin Gosens (85' for Darmian) - N/A

Manager: Simone Inzaghi - 5/10 - Acknowledged the errors of his starting XI with his triple substitution which did swing the tide of the contest - but a little too late.

Player of the Match - Rafael Leao