A late goal from Rodrigo Palacio gave Inter a narrow but deserved win, in a scrappy game that characterised the travails of both sides
Inter just about deserved that - though they weren't much better than Milan in the first half, had the referee got the crucial decisions right, they'd have been a goal and a man up. Then, in the second, they were significantly better, and Rodrigo Palacio's finish was worthy of winning any game. They move up to fifth place, and Milan continue inhabiting the "up-and-coming" section of the table.
90+3 min Kaka nips around the outside of Jonathan, who dives to bundle him to the floor. This causes Muntari to experience significant warmth of the temper, and he dashes into Kuzmanovic, who flings himself to the floor. Muntari is sent off, and scrunches his face in outrage.
Then, Balotelli whooshes the free-kick towards the back post, where the merest touch would take it in - but no one is quite able to impart it.
90+1 min Jonathan streaks away down the right, and with Nagatomo imploring him to pass, crosses aimlessly to earn a corner that comes to nowt.
90 min There shall be a minimum of four added minutes.
89 min Time for time wasting, Jonathan writhing with alleged cramp - which should never be tolerated by referees, no different from wanting things stopped because of a stitch.
Jonathan slides a ball down the right for Guarin, who's pulled free of his man, and he spins into a shot that he'll call a cross, which is met perfectly by Palacio, who flicks with his right foot, the ball travelling behind his left, across Abbiati, and in at the far corner. Those two have been the most lively players on the pitch, and that was a very smart finish.
It looks like a slower version of this:
84 min It's all Inter now, but their passing is imprecise, and they're unable to offer any sustained threat.
82 min Icardi replaces Cambiasso - but not before Palacio narrowly fails to connect with Nagatomo's cross.
81 min This is lovely from Palacio, who, by the penalty spot, spins to greet the arrival of Guarin's pass. This loses Zapata and allows him to shoot, but Abbiati scoops the ball away, and then, when it's returned, immediately, Zapata does enough to block the second effort.
79 min Nagatomo skips away from goal to evade Emanuelson and turns, now at inside-left, and with various others desperately beseeching him for a pass, tries to bend a finish in at the far post. Of course, he fails miserably.
77 min A break! Yes, really! I know! Inter dash forwards, Palacio wearing Zapata and sliding a through-ball for Guarin - but it's ever so slightly overhit, allowing De Sciglio to slide in and avert the danger.
76 min Matri shall come on for Saponara. Matri is on for Saponara.
75 min Nothing, really.
72 min "It's been highly tactical" says Derek Ray, which is a rather lovely euphemism, but for the fact that it wasn't meant is such. However, feel free to incorporate it into your daily patter, for example:
"You're wearing an ironic mustache and LMFAO glasses? Don't give me that highly tactical nonsense, you lump of highly tactical tactics."
70 min Palacio has played fairly well, dashing hither and thither to offer an option, the problem being that once he's found, he's no one to pass to. Perhaps Inter's most recent change will allow Guarin to get a little closer to him - it could do with doing.
69 min The Portrait of Javier Zanetti departs, and Kuzmanovic takes his place.
68 min Jonathan pulls back Balotelli and is booked.
66 min A long, searching lump finds Palacio mooching around on the right, and eventually, he smuggles the ball back, and Zanetti transfers to Nagatomo, in off the other touchline. He pauses, moves, pauses, and shoots hard a low towards the near post, where Abbiati falls to gather.
64 min Kaka, wh's been quiet so far, drifts a ball into Muntari, on the edge of the box, and he turns into a chest for Balotelli. But Juan is on hand to clear by mistake, or, put another way, nothing is continuing to happen.
62 min Kovacic nutmegs De Jong, who takes care to scissor both of his legs and knee him in the head as he gets up. This earns him a booking.
60 min Kovacic, who looks lively, wriggles infield from the right and escapes a challenge or two, unloading for Guarin to slide a pass down the side of Bonera to meet the run of Palacio. But it's too strong, and Abbiati collects.
59 min Guarin is booked for a tackle - on whom, I did not see.
57 min Change for Inter: Taider ambles off, Kovacic slinks on.
55 min Lovely improvisation from Balotelli, who, moving right to left inside the box, meets a low ball in from Poli to flick hard and first time with his right laces, sending the ball only just wide of the near post.
52 min Milan hustle into their first serious attack of the half, Balotelli set free at inside-left, and espying no assistance in the box, unfurls a curler across goal that Handanovic does well to shove out, Nagatomo doing just enough to prevent Kaka for running home the loose ball.
50 min Inter have started the second half like the mean it, and when Cambiasso whips over a cross from the right, Campagnaro vaults above his man to headbutt powerfully back across goal towards the far corner - but the effort is blocked by Zapata.
49 min Guarin has been easily the best player on the pitch so far tonight, but he still doesn't look like the kind of player Chelsea need; a strong, all-round midfielder. But he might be the kind of player Jose Mourinho needs; a strong, all-round competitor.
47 min Guarin wanders in off the right and chips in towards Palacio, but too high for him to control. Instead, the ball is shovelled back right, and Jonathan advances, slamming a cross-shot straight at Abbiati. That might be his first save of the eventide.
46 min Milan kick-off.
Substitution: Kevin Constant is less so, off with an sprained ankle and replaced by Emanuelson.
And one more; here are Ekker and Paolo.
It's half-time! It's half-term! Small world, and all that. So as such, here is a pencil case suggestion for the resumption, courtesy of Milan.
Milan have done a reasonably decent job of frustrating Inter, for whom Guarin has been liveliest. But they're rather fortunate to have conceded neither a penalty nor a red card, and will need to provide Balotelli with better service in the second half.
45+2 min Guarin takes the long way around Kevin Constant, who pulls him back and is booked. Taider whips over the free-kick from the right, close to the right edge of the box, and Cambiasso acquaints pate with ball, his effort spinning just wide of the far post.
45 min There shall be two additional minutes.
45 min Ooooh, ugh, tyyy, gnnnk, and other guttural reactions. Jonathan slides into the tackle, and Muntari dives over the top, stamping on ankle and shin as hard as his little legs will permit. The referee allows this to pass.
42 min How can anyone expect a referee not to be biased against this man, pathologically?
40 min Great challenge, Zapata. Guarin, free enough on the right, turns into a cross that Palacio turns on too, shielding it from his man - who snakes a leg through and around him, to see the ball to safety. Which, on second, third and fourth viewing, was a clear penalty.
38 min Would this game be better if Richard Stilgoe was co-commentator? I submit aye.
36 min Saponara, who appears to have mooched over to the right for a soiree, races onto De Sciglio's ball down the line and wallops an attempted cross into the lost city of Atlantis.
34 min Saponara and Poli manufacture some space along the right, Poli's cross headed away directly onto the laces of De Jong on the edge of the box. He lashes a volley at goal - and it might well have been on target - but it travels approximately 0.53mm, before encountering Rolando's block.
33 min More wild thrashing.
30 min After Kaka zones down the left and wins a corner, the kick is swung in and Handanovic dashes out, managing only to slice knuckle across leather - the sort that of contact that might have opened a cut, were this MMA and not football, and the football a face, not a football. In the event, Zapata stepped away to shoot and managed little and Handanonvic flung himself in his path, but the ball then dropped at the feet of Poli, perhaps eight yards out and left of centre. He duly smashed over the bar with minimum care and maximum force.
29 min This game is not so good. Also, the hue of Inter's blue stripe is far too dark and the configuration of the whole arrangement most peculiar.
28 min Nagatomo is trying hard, buzzing along the left before cutting in so that he might larrup a hack at somewhere other than goal.
26 min Guarin moseys across the pitch but can find nothing with which to entertain himself, until De Sciglio swipes at him, for which he is booked.
24 min Decentish chance for Inter in the context, that being no decent chances in the previous 23 minutes. Taider, who thus far has accomplished a lot of nothing, swings over a cross from the right, seeking Palacio. It's too strong, but Zapata allows it to bounce, which allows it to skip away from him to the back post, where Nagatomo dashes in, bundling an effort behind.
22 min Muntari accepts a pass from Constant and slithers through midfield, revving up a left-footed pea-roller that zoots wide across Handanovic (who has a splendid name for a goalkeeper, and an even better one for a rugby player).
22 min Talking of footballese, this game is "fascinating".
20 min "Our announcer here in the US, Ian Joy, has just told us that 'As soon as Handanovic spilled that ball Balotelli was in and around him', reports JR of Illinois (who I hope hates Nazis). "Surely that would have to be a foul, no? I am hip to all kinds of British lingo but am just starting to notice the frequency of 'in and around'. Is it gaining popularity in England or has it always been?"
It's yet another facet of footballese, and yes, roughly, it's tautological - it means "near to", rather than "inside" = unfortunately.
18 min Kevin Constant turns Jonathan along the left touchline, then spanks a something high, wide and behind.
15 min Inter attempt and attack, and send the ball in towards Guarin from the left. It's a little behind him, so he adjusts his body as it drops to get behind it, allows it to bounce, rise and fall, and then hooks an effort that drops just wide of the left-hand post.
13 min These last few minutes have been better for Milan, and De Sciglio crosses again, high again, this time the ball hitting someone else before reaching Kaka. He shapes to shoot from the edge of the box, left-hand side, but the effort is quickly blocked.
12 min If one side had a colourblind player, would they cease wearing stripes for the derby and Juventus and Atalanta games?
10 min Another dash by Milan, this time down the right, De Sciglio crossing towards Kaka, whom the ball hits - and this sets it for Balotelli, but the bounce is too much. He can only slice underneath the ball with instep and shin, forcing it high over the top.
8 min First flash of Saponara, who turns sharply and nutmegs Campagnaro, nashing clear to find Balotelli, drifting right and inside the box. He shoots hard, and though he can't rustle up suitable accuracy, will be heartened by the ease with which his little trequartisting friend made space for himself.
7 min Kevin Constant is an exceptional name, and he really is a kevin constant. Are there any other players who are their names, or any who are oxymoronic, like Shane Long, say.
5 min Inter continue knocking the ball around, but Milan harry them into passing back to Handanovic, then harry him into kicking long. Eventually, though, they find an out ball, to Guarin on the right, and his cross, aimed for Palacio, is headed clear.
3 min Inter muster light pressure - both sides are pressurising the opposing keeper and defence in possession - but nothing of particular note.
1 min Slight heat, as De Jong goes with a head and Cambiasso some studs, poor Nigel enduring a tickle which he bears with characteristic evenness.
1 min Yo DJ pump this party.
Stewart Robson. He doesn't like Arsene Wenger, you know.
So, no Montolivio for Milan, but yes Kaka for Milan, as well as "young trequartista" Saponara. Which begs a question: is it acceptable to use the term when describing an Italian?*
Inter field Chelsea's Guarin, and will be pleased to be missing Ranocchia, but vex that Alvarez is suspended.
And our teams:
Inter (3-5-1-1): Handanovic; Campagnaro, Rolando, Juan; Jonathan, Taider, Cambiasso, Zanetti, Nagatomo; Guarin; Palacio. Carrizo, Castellazzi, Andreolli, Belfodil, Icardi, Kovacic, Mudingayi, Kuzmanovic, Wallace, Ranocchia, Samuel, Pereira
Milan(Festive tree): Abbiati; De Sciglio, Zapata, Bonera, Constant; Poli, De Jong, Muntari; Kakà, Saponara; Balotelli. Subs: Gabriel, Coppola, Mexes, Zaccardo, Emanuelson, Cristante, Nocerino, Matri, Pazzini.
Some phrases are just all wrong: goatee beards supply personality, say, or uncomfortable skinny jeans with turn-ups and jack-ups are the height of fashion and entirely acceptable in adults. Inter versus Milan, six versus thirteenth, is another such phrase. Six versus thirteenth! Inter versus Milan!
Of course, there are two ways of looking at this. Either it's a shame, like watching a beautiful building decay, or devoured with the kind of maniacal glee experienced when the snooty, pretty girl who looked down on everyone contracts explosive, outstanding acne.
Not much of a contest, is it?
Kick off: 7.45 GMT
Daniel will be here from 7.15pm with all the build-up ahead of the Milan derby. If you get here first, here's the most recent Serie A blog from Paolo Bandini.
Rafael Benítez spoke, but nobody listened. After orchestrating a 4-2 win over Internazionale on Sunday night, the Napoli manager insisted that he had derived no special pleasure from beating his former club. He dismissed the notion that this victory constituted some kind of personal revenge, saying that he was focused only on his own work and still had lots of good friends with the Nerazzurri. And yet, the headline writers disagreed.
"Benítez's vendetta," screamed the front cover of Monday's edition of Gazzetta dello Sport, and Mimmo Malfitano picked up on the same thread on the pink paper's inside pages. "Revenge is served," he wrote. "[Benítez] will have celebrated internally, while the images of his sacking less than three years ago passed through his thoughts."
Technically speaking, Benítez was not actually fired by Inter in December 2010, leaving the club by mutual consent after just six months in charge. He had instigated that parting of ways himself, issuing an ultimatum to the club's then owner, Massimo Moratti, after winning the Club World Cup.
"There are three possibilities," Benítez famously said. "One is to give 100% support to the coach and buy four or five players to build a stronger team, with competition among the players, in order to keep on winning matches and trophies. Two, carry on like this without a project, without planning … The third is to speak to my agent and reach an agreement."
Inter chose the final option, Moratti's previous inclination to support Benítez through a poor start to his first Serie A campaign washed away by the owner's anger at how his manager had undermined a moment of great celebration. A compensation package was agreed and the Spaniard disappeared for what would become a two-year sabbatical from the game.