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Milan-Inter 3-0: vintage Milan performance leaves Inter 5 points behind

Where do I begin? I am so ecstatic I almost started writing this in Italian, which I don't speak. A marvelous performance from all Milan players tonight, Inter was outplayed, outmuscled and outhustled. They're used to being outplayed but the other two may be new to them, so take this lesson to sleep, Interisti - Milan is no longer that team that used to lose games to sheer physicality. Inter on the other side is the aging, predictable side Milan was in previous seasons. Step aside, gentlemen. Our time has come.


Can Milan score without Zlatan? If someone out there uttered this sentence after the first whistle tonight, he might have ended it just as Pato provided an answer. The fastest goal ever scored in a Milan derby came after 19 seconds back in the 1960s, this one took 42 but it's just as historic, as it paved the way to a crucial victory in Milan's scudetto run. Pato went on to score another goal and get Chivu sent off. He hustled throughout the game, played well on and off the ball, didn't have any periods of invisibility and made the entire Inter back line sweat for 86 minutes, after which he was taken off to a standing ovation. Let me put this simply, tonight Pato put in the kind of performance that separates a world class striker from a promising youngster. Let me say that again, as I find it as important as the victory itself...

There is a difference between a promising youngster and a world class striker. Pato has been dancing along the line which separates these two categories for years. Tonight, he crossed it. He is deep in World Class Striker territory and there is no going back.

Seedorf put in a vintage performance on the left side of midfield, and I for one am not sorry Pirlo didn't make it for the derby, who knows if a newly recovered Pirlo could have managed to control the tempo of the game the way Seedorf did. His ball distribution was a joy to behold, he seemed as if he would lose his grip for a while around the half hour mark but he got out of the slump with the help of his aggressive team-mates in midfield.

On the other side, Sneijder had a frustrating night as he was constantly muscled off the ball by van Bommel, Gattuso, Boateng and just about anybody who happened to be close to him whenever he attempted to run forward with the ball at his feet. Allegri's instructions were clear to everybody, Sneijder wasn't to be allowed any breathing room and whichever player was closest to him stayed by his side as he ran forward until he ran into another Milan player, usually van Bommel or Rino. The Dutchman put in a masterful performance, he owned the midfield, made a series of crucial tackles (some more legal than others), contributed when Milan attacked and even managed to hit the bar (however accidentally).

I could just as easily praise each Milan player individually, Abate looked powerful at right back, Zambro was very reliable on the other side and he didn't spend much time attacking because of his age and lack of fitness. He had one clumsy intervention early on when Pazzini came through on goal but only had enough space for a quick shot with his left foot and Abbiati saved with no problem. The CB duo was as dominant on the ground as they were in the air, Prince had an all-round solid performance, he popped up everywhere on the pitch, including one crucial moment in Milan's box when he took the ball from Eto'o. Robinho would deserved just as much praise as Pato had he only finished at least two of his three colossal chances, as it is he was good but his lack of composure in front of goal is frustrating (or at least would be frustrating if it weren't for the fact we just won the derby 3-0). Thoughts?

Cassano had an absolutely maniacal 10 minutes on the pitch, he managed to earn a penalty, convert it and get two yellow cards in such a short period of time. If the circumstances were different, I'd be angry but as it is, I just burst into laughter after his second yellow. He's still the lunatic he was, but if he can come off the bench and contribute on a regular basis I can easily forgive his less intellectual moments. The game was won; he wanted to contribute; he did contribute; he got carried away. That's the story, in short, I love him even though he's an idiot.

Enough with the praises. In all honesty, Inter put up a formidable fight tonight. Eto'o missed something I haven't seen him miss since he was in Mallorca, Maicon gave us some trouble with his forward runs, Cambiasso was as combative as ever. Leonardo's ridiculous lack of tactical knowledge was their undoing. Thiago Motta and Cambiasso were outnumbered in midfield as the three forwards struggled to get back in time after losing the ball and Sneijder limped towards the referee after one of his many collisions with van Bommel or Gattuso. Allegri took full advantage of Leonardo's deficiencies. He had the defenders and midfielders pass the ball as vertically as possible in order to leave Inter's forwards out of the picture when Milan attacks. It worked like a charm, which resulted in Pato and Robinho having 1 on 1 situations with a defender as Cambiasso and Thiago Motta closed down Milan's surging midfielders. Inter on the other hand relied on the individual skill of Eto'o and the craftiness of Pazzini, sometimes this plan works, sometimes it doesn't, either way, Leonardo doesn't have a back-up plan.

After Chivu stopped Pato the only way he could in the 54th minute, Milan played the perfect 11 VS 10 game. They scored fast and then passed the ball around until Inter had lost all hope and morale.

If my co-blogger was writing this, she would have started with a paragraph of praise for a special player. I on the other hand saved him for last to make her think I forgot because I'm mean by nature.

Abbiati put in a match-winning performance tonight, epitomized in his save off the line after an Inter corner while it was still 1-0. A true game-changing moment, most of us saw the ball in the back of the net but not him, he pulled of a miraculous save as the ball was perhaps an inch or two from crossing the line and leveling the score. Add to that the save against Pazzini in the first half and a generally flawless 90 minutes, and you have a clean sheet in the derby.

P.S. Things I didn't pay much attention to (on purpose): Milan played without Ibrahimovic, should have had a penalty in the first half when Maicon saved Seedorf's volley with his arm and could have scored 5 or 6 goals if they pressed in the last 20 minutes (or simply if Robinho could score when 1 on 1 with a keeper).