Preamble Evening. The derby is usually the fixture everyone looks forward to, but tonight Milan could be forgiven for wishing they were playing anyone but Internazionale. When you are a point behind the leaders with two games to play, the last thing you really want is the distraction and frenzy of a derby. Especially a derby of such intensity that it makes a grown man do this.
That's what Milan have to deal with against Internazionale, while the leaders Juventus go to Cagliari. If Milan don't win and Juve do win, the title race will be over and Juve will have their first scudetto since Calciopoli.
All Milan can do is win their last two games and hope Juventus do what they do, if not best then at least very well: draw. Fifteen of Juventus's 36 games in this amazing unbeaten season have been drawn. P36 W21 L15 D0 F63 A19. What a beautiful, so very Italian record that is. Not quite as good as Perugia in 1978-79 or Como in 1984-85 (just look at their home results), but still an endearing throwback.
A (very) brief history of this fixture Here's Mark Hateley scoring an immense winner in 1984-85. Although you have to ask: in what crazy sick kinda world is Mark Hateley scoring the winner in a Milan derby?
Internazionale (4-3-2-1) Julio Cesar; Maicon, Lucio, Samuel, Nagatomo; Guarin, Cambiasso, Zanetti; Sneijder, Alvarez; Milito.
Substitutes: Castellazzi, Cordoba, Pazzini, Palombo, Obi, Ranocchia, Zarate.
Milan (4-3-1-2): Abbiati; Abate, Nesta, Yepes, Bonera; Nocerino, Van Bommel, Muntari; Boateng; Ibrahimovic, Robinho.
Substitutes: Amelia, De Sciglio, Mexes, Gattuso, Aquilani, Maxi Lopez, Cassano.
Referee: Nicola Rizzoli.
7.34pm Has anyone seen American Pie: Reunion? If so, how many stars out of 64 would you give it? Insert your own joke about a group of thirtysomething trying to recapture the late 1990s in Milan tonight.
7.38pm "Actually the ones that are looking forward the least to this fixture are Inter fans," says Vincenzo Auteri. "There's only one thing we hate more than seeing Milan winning a title, and it's seeing Juventus doing so. Since Inter threw out the last chance of Champions League football last week, however this game ends there will be little reason to celebrate for us. That said, it's still a derby, and I fully expect the players to give their best, and try to make amends for an horrible season." Sir Les knows the feeling; well, sort of.
1 min Inter kick off from right to left. For those watching in black and white, they are in blue-and-black stripes; Milan are in red-and-black stripes.
2 min All Milan so far, albeit with everything played in front of Internazionale.
3 min "American Pie might be a successful, acclaimed franchise, but as teen-oriented 'wild rides' released in 1999 go, Go! is the real deal," says Phil Podolsky. "A few very fine actors (and Katie Holmes, who's pretty good there), in addition to everything. Haven't seen it since so it might be as bad as Human Traffic, which I liked at the time but etc..."
Go was of its time, definitely, with that whole late-1990s post-modernism,
but if you accept that it certainly stands up to scrutiny now. And much of the soundtrack was superb – nothing better than Natalie Imbruglia. Yep.
Human Traffic, though? Oof.
4 min Muntari gets a long talking-to for a bruising tackle on Sneijder, although he did take the ball. I know this doesn't always matter,
and to be honest I don't know the exact law so I'm making it up as I go along but this in case it seemed to be a decent challenge.
5 min Bad news for Milan: Juventus have taken an early lead at Cagliari, with a fine goal from Mirko Vucinic. If it stays like this in both games, Juventus will be champions tonight by virtue of their head-to-head record against Milan.
8 min It's been a frantic, bitty start. The universal language of the local derby.
9 min Muntari blooters one miles over the bar from long distance.
12 min What a chance for Ibrahimovic! The big man has lumped one over from six yards! The chance came when Robinho curled over a dipping, inswinging cross from a deepish position on the left. It was a beauty, demanding to be roofed with glee. Ibrahimovic looked set to do that when he got away from the left-back Nagamoto, but he stabbed it over the bar from six yards.
13 min Emails please!
GOAL! Inter 1-0 Milan (Milito 14) The title may well be going to Turin. Diego Milito has put Inter ahead with a goal that, from Milan's point of view, is Andrex-soft. The move started when Sneidjer curled in a free-kick from a deep, narrow position on the right. It somehow went beyond a static defence to find Samuel beyond the far post. He miscontrolled it on the half volley, square across the face of goal, and the unmarked Milito scored with not inconsiderable glee from a few yards.
16 min Guarin, who knows how to hit a ball from range, booms a fantastic effort not far wide from 30 yards.
18 min Robinho gets cakey with the Inter bench when they are slow to give him the ball back. After a few seconds' macho posturing from all parties, life goes on.
20 min Lucio has a goal disallowed for offside. Sneijder warmed Abbiati's gloves with a vicious strike from 25 yards. Abbiati could only beat it back to Lucio, who lamped it back whence it came in emphatic style from the edge of the box, but he had been offside when Sneijder hit the original shot.
21 min Inter have pummelled Milan since Milito's goal, and Sneidjer's shot is deflected behind for a corner. Milan are in serious trouble here.
22 min Milan have had to replace the injured Daniele Bonera with Mattio De Sciglio, the teenager who is playing only his third game for Milan.
23 min "As long as we're on the subject of 1999 films featuring Sarah Polley," says Phil Podolsky, to the raw excitement of whose life on a Sunday evening we can all aspire, "have you seen Cronenberg's eXistenZ? I resisted it for the longest time, as the only things that bore me more than its genre (sci fi) are its subject matter (computer games) and its star (Jude Lowe); but its bill as 'weird' and 'Canadian' is really tempting." Nup. There was another Polley film I wanted to see too: Last Night. It's credited as 1998 here but I'm pretty sure it didn't come to England till 1999.
This is good chat.
24 min Robinho and Ibrahimovic. Where do you start?
25 min "You want emails?" says Ian Copestake. "Here's an email.The contrasting emotional displays of the pictured Milito and Boateng, suggest that Milito represents the inner-directed man, who discovers potential within himself to live and act not according to established norms, while Boateng is 'other-directed,' needing assurance that he is emotionally in tune with others." I was just making the exact same observation on Twitter.
27 min "We all know Jose Mourinho is a good manager, but look at Inter post-Mourinho," says Peter Crosby. "While I'll admit the constant managerial changes can't help, Inter are now not only a shadow of the Mourinho era, but also the pre-Mourinho era. I'd argue their slide has a lot to do with Mou's win-at-all-costs attitude, even if that means compromising his team's future. That's why he always gets out quick – the harder job would be to stay for ten years and really build a lasting legacy. In my eyes, Ferguson and Wenger and various others are far his superior for doing just that."
Without knowing too much about Inter, I think that's very harsh. Look at Chelsea, where he left a team that was set up to win cups and leagues for the next five years (and would have won many more with him there), and also the average age of the Madrid side thanks to signings like Khedira, Ozil and Coentrao. I do agree it's much easier to be a hired gun than to build a legacy, mind. It seems Mourinho knows this and wants him next job to be his last in club football.
29 min Milan have had a decent few minutes in terms of possession, but Robinho and Ibrahimovic have been at their most exasperatingly fitful. Ah look, I don't know why I bother: it's such a cliche typing that kind of thing about Robinho and Ibrahimovic, but it's also true. When they are bad they are immensely frustrating. It's just whether you accept that trade off for the good bits. If they're David Gower, you sure do. If they're Zlatan, I don't know.
32 min Abbiati makes a sensational save, almost a replica of Petr Cech's yesterday. But was the ball over the line? Sneijder's inswinging corner from the left was headed towards goal by Cambiasso in front of the near post, and Abbiati dived back towards his own goal to beat it away. That was a monstrous save. Replays aren't conclusive as to whether it was over the line or not; it's desperately tight. Either way, it was a marvellous reaction. I suspect it wasn't over the line, but it's hard to be certain.
Moments later, Inter almost made it 2-0 anyway. After a scramble in the box, Sneijder's sidefooted shot from a tight angle to the left of the six-yard box was fingertipped wide by Abbiati. He injured himself in the process and is going to be replaced by the substitute goalkeeper Marco Amelia. That's Milan's second substitution already.
36 min This is breathless stuff, and now Ibrahimovic has been denied by Julio Cesar at the other end. He pulled a long cross down in the box, escaped a couple of defenders and poked a shot towards goal from six yards. It was blocked very well by Cesar, who made himself big.
40 min Muntari's 20-yard shot is blocked superbly by Samuel. This is Milan's best spell of the match, and moments later Abate's cross is headed behind for a corner.
41 min "Gambling-wise," begins Al Whyte. "Does being at home or away matter in this particular game? My theory is that it probably matters 20% as much as in a normal game. I didn't do much maths to come up with that figure, the cider I've been drinking did that for me."
It's a good question, and I've no idea. One of my Betfair-friendly colleagues might know, mind. More importantly, when did the suffix '-wise' become so commonplace? Was it when Tony Soprano said 'No matter how it affects anybody ... personal safety-wise, financially-wise, whatever'? It does sound a bit, well, naff, no?
42 min: WHAT A JOKE OF A PENALTY DECISION! Julio Cesar springs from his line to make a brilliant interception as Kevin-Prince Boateng breaks into the box – but the referee gives a penalty! Refereeing-wise, that's a shocker. Boateng's touch took him towards the left corner of the six-yard box. He tried to nick it around Cesar, who plunged to his right and clearly palmed the ball away. It was immaculate goalkeeping, but the referee thought otherwise and gave a penalty. Milan didn't even appeal for a penalty. Cesar is livid. He's really on one here! He has walked alone to the edge of the box screaming "FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU". I'll let you guess the last two letters. What an awful decision.
GOAL! Inter 1-1 Milan (Ibrahimovic 44 pen) Cesar does his best to psyche Ibrahimovic out, getting right in his face, whispering sweet nothings. Ibrahimovic shoves him away, so Cesar backpedalls towards his goal, sticking his tongue out and smiling. Will it work? Will it heck. Ibrahimovic scores with a storming penalty! That was unsaveable. He absolutely creamed it, low to his left and into the side netting. Cesar went the right way but had no chance. Ibrahimovic points at Cesar and shouts something or other. What is Italian for 'hard luck, old chap'? Ibrahimovic really is a quite magnificent bastard.
45+3 min Zanetti and Nocerino are booked for some unspecified off-the-ball fun, and now Milito and Nocerino are going head to head over something. There's a delicious edge to this game, and Mark Van Bommel hasn't really got into the thick of it yet.
Half time: Inter 1-1 Milan That was a pulsating half of football. That's all I have to say. Boateng has a chat with the Inter bench on the way off. I don't think they are discussing the merits of the new American Pie film.
8.42pm Juventus lead 1-0 at half-time away to Cagliari, so as things stand they will be champions tonight. But a goal for Cagliari and a goal for Milan would give Milan control of the title race.
8.46pm "Would have been harsh following the ludicrous penalty decision," begins Jonatan Smith-Isaksen, "but shouldn't Cesar receive a second yellow for his ridiculous antics towards Zlatan? Xoxo"
He could easily have done, yep. Fabien Barthez was booked at least once for pre-penalty timewasting back in the day.
8.51pm "Seeing Juventus' record this year takes me back to a piece of A-Level statistics coursework I did on the 1999-2000 Serie A season (a thrilling read, I assure you)," says Ciaran Neeson. "I remember thinking Juve were pretty boring under Ancelotti at the time, but they still managed to finish second anyway, conceding a ridiculously low amount of goals (a quick check on Wikipedia shows they only let in 20 all season – half the amount conceded by Milan, who finished third). So, a good defence, but they only scored 46 all year which was worse than every other team in the division all the way down to Hellas Verona in 9th. For a team containing Zidane and Del Piero, that seems pretty shocking to me."
Sometimes you get strange seasons like that for no real reason. The Arsenal side containing Ian Wright and, er, Ian Wright were the highest scorers in the league in 1991-92 – and the lowest scorers in the first season of the Premier League a year later.
GOAL! Inter 1-2 Milan (Ibrahimovic 46) Zlatan has scored after 34 seconds of the second half! What a player! Of course the bad stuff is worth it, because when he is good he is sensational. And he's an inadvertent comic genius as well. This was a gorgeous goal. Nocerino played an angled ball in from the right, Boateng ran over it, and it came to Ibrahimovic on the edge of the box, with his back to goal. He turned Lucio with his first touch and then dinked it sweely over the advancing Cesar with his second.
49 min Sneijder almost scores with a 40-yard volley! It was an exceptional effort. Nothing much seemed to be happening as the ball looped towards him, but he spotted Amelia fractionally off his line and swooshed a brilliant lobbed volley towards goal. Amelia got back just in time to pat it down from under the bar. Moments later Inter have a huge appeal for a penalty turned down following a corner. Samuel went down after a challenge from Yepes, although it's hard to see on the first reply whether there was a foul.
51 min: PENALTY TO INTER! This one is definitely a penalty. That was a staggeringly inept piece of defending from Abate. Milito was put through on the left side of the box, and Abate simply draped both arms around his neck to pull him back. Lord knows what he was thinking. Milito didn't even have a clear shot as he was in a wide position; because of that, Abate is only booked.
GOAL! Inter 2-2 Milan (Milito 52 pen) It's all square! This is another cracking penalty, rifled emphatically into the top left corner as Amelia dived the other way.
54 min What a game!
55 min "Ibra, KPB, Van Bommel..." says Phil Podolsky. "Is Milan, Robinho aside, the last team you want to pick a fight with?" Ah, this one's easy. The Birmingham side of the mid-1980s are surely the hardest team ever. Mick Harford. Martin Kuhl. Mick Harford. Mick Dennis. Mick Harford. Noel Blake. Mick Harford. Pat Van Den Hauwe. Mick Harford. MICK HARFORD.
56 min What a chance for Muntari, who is on loan at Milan from Inter! An outswinging corner from the right was headed down towards goal by Ibrahimovic. It might have been going on at the far post, but Muntari somehow shovelled it wide of the other post.
57 min It's going off again, this time after a zesty but (I think) fair tackle from Di Scigilo on Zanetti. This is gold: primal, retro gold. Alvarez was booked a minute ago. If this ends 11-a-side, I'll enter Britain's Got Talent next year.
59 min "That Guarin goal is just stupendous," says Chris Lambert. "Newton himself couldn't have tracked the flight of that ball." The Jabulani would definitely have been Newton's Kryptonite.
60 min To recap:
Italian football is bloody boring as things stand, Juventus are champions because of their head-to-head record against Milan.
61 min Robinho twists Nagatomo's blood on the right of the box and drills a firm shot that is beaten away by Cesar at the near post. This is wonderful stuff. Inter have replaced Freddy Guarin with Joel Obi.
63 min A superb right-wing cross from Boateng is headed wide by Yepes, who was all the way upfield in open play for some reason. That was a decent chance. Meanwhile, there's plenty of controversy at Cagliari: Giorgio Chiellini could have been sent off twice in the space of a first few minutes. He was booked for a nasty hack and then got away with what would have been a clear second yellow had the referee given a foul. Few Juventus titles are complete without a Turone moment.
64 min "I'm thinking of buying a fire engine," announces Al Whyte. "Dennis-wise, which would be the best?"
65 min "In that Birmingham mid-80's side, which was managed by hardman Ron Saunders and had all those other teak-tough sods there was a chap called Robert Hopkins who played on the wing," says Jack Howes. "Hopkins was a boyhood Blues fan who ended played for Villa before moving to Birmingham. In his last game for Villa he replaced the Villa badge with a Birmingham badge, went to take a corner, got a whole load of abuse from the crowd for daring to wear a Birmingham badge on the Villa shirt and he responded with a V-sign and a puff of smoke as he legged it from the angry fans. Tough indeed." That is magnificent. Imagine the Twitter outcry if that happened now.
67 min Milan are the better side now, with their desperate need for victory driving them on. Robinho, stretching and on the turn, spanks a half volley over the bar from 10 yards.
70 min It's all Milan now. Abate receives a pass from Nocerino just inside the box, uses Nocerino's off-the-ball run by not using him, and then turns to hit a good shot that is palmed over by the leaping Cesar.
72 min Sneijder's 25-yard curler is well held by Amelia.
74 min Another long-range from Sneijder is held by Amelia. This has been about eight different matches in one, such has been the number of wild swings in momentum.
75 min: CAGLIARI 0-2 JUVENTUS Marco Borriello has doubled Juventus's lead away to Cagliari. They rode their luck with Chiellini earlier in the half, but that will surely give them the points. It also means that Milan must score in the last 15 minutes.
76 min Mark Van Bommel is booked. Of course he is. This one was for a high foot on Joel Obi.
78 min Muntari is replaced by Antonio Cassano. He's booed by the Inter fans, and brushes the Milan badge in response.
78 min: PENALTY TO INTER! The third penalty of the match, and it's another bad decision. A flicked header from Pazzini* hit the raised arm of Nesta, who was barely a yard away. How was he supposed to get out the way of that? That seems a really harsh decision.
* When did Pazzini come on? Errr
GOAL! Inter 3-2 Milan (Milito 79 pen) Milito completes his hat-trick, and surely gives Juventus the title! It was another emphatic penalty, this one thrashed high down the middle as Amelia dived to his right. A hat-trick in a Milan derby! Not even Mark Hateley managed that.
81 min Now Milan appeal for a penalty for handball. Was it handball? Between me and you, I barely know what day it is. This is crazily frantic, and we haven't seen a replay yet anyway.
82 min Having now seen a replay, that probably was a penalty – certainly more so than the Inter penalty moments earlier. Cambiasso leant into Ibrahimovic's cross with his shoulder, and it hit him somewhere around the bicep. While I was typing that, Zanetti went on a crazy 60-yard slalom that ended with Inter winning a corner. "What a man" says the co-commentator David Pleat. He's 38 years old!
84 min Wesley Sneijder is replaced by Ivan Cordoba, who is making his last appearance at the San Siro after 13 years with Inter.
85 min Milan knows it's over now. Even Ibra – even Ibra – seems to have given up. "Pupi Zanetti, what a man," says Ceci Marjakangas. "And true to his nickname, he looks eternally youthful. Sheer class. Argentina have the best captains: Mascherano and Messi also have been brilliant." I still haven't forgiven Zanetti for turning down a move to Gillingham on Championship Manager 2000-01.
GOAL! Inter 4-2 Milan (Maicon 87); JUVENTUS ARE CHAMPIONS Maicon settles the match with a screamer, Josimaring the ball into the far top corner from 25 yards, and it's definitely all over now for Milan. That is an outrageous goal. He received the ball from Zanetti, marauded forward and then creamed it across and over Amelia with the outside of the foot. Add that to the video of storming goals scored by Brazilian right-backs, which is almost as good as the video of storming goals scored by English right-backs.
90 min Milito's hat-trick is the first in a Milan derby since 1953.
90+1 min Lucio's wildly deflected free-kick spins just wide of the far post.
90+3 min Cambiasso drags a volley wide from the edge of the box. Milan have gone completely.
Full time: Internazionale 4-2 Milan That's it! Juventus are champions for the first time since the Calciopoli scandal. They won 2-0 at Cagliari, while Milan were beaten in a raucous derby. Inter end their miserable season on a high, and – for the first time since 2002-03 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic's team have not won the title. Thanks for your emails; night.