Inter beats city rival Milan 1-0 to reach Champions League final

Inter Milan players celebrate at the end of the Champions League semifinal second leg soccer match between Inter Milan and AC Milan at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, Tuesday, May 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
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MILAN (AP) — Inter Milan reached its first Champions League final in more than a decade with a 1-0 victory against city rival AC Milan on Tuesday.

Inter had a 2-0 lead from the first leg of the semifinal and Lautaro Martinez’s 74th-minute goal ended any hopes for Milan to stage a comeback.

Several players from both teams fell to the ground in tears at the final whistle as the Nerazzurri won the so-called “Euroderby” 3-0 on aggregate to progress to its first final since it won the league, Italian Cup and Champions League under José Mourinho in 2010.

Inter players and staff celebrated for long afterwards with their fans, singing and dancing in front of the Curva Nord packed full of Nerazzurri supporters in an electric atmosphere at San Siro — the stadium that both teams share.

Inter will face either Real Madrid or Manchester City in Istanbul on June 10. The second leg of the other semifinal is on Wednesday, with the scoreline locked at 1-1.

For Milan, the lengthy wait goes on. It last reached the showpiece event in 2007, when it won the last of its seven titles.

Milan was able to welcome back Rafael Leão. He missed last week’s loss with a thigh injury and the Rossoneri were hoping his comeback would inspire the team to do the same.

The difference was immediately apparent as Milan played with an intensity it sorely lacked in the first leg amid a frantic start from both teams.

Brahim Díaz saw a weak shot comfortably smothered by Inter goalkeeper André Onana early on before Leão almost got Milan back into it with his first real sight of goal, shortly before halftime. The winger sprinted into the left of the area but his angled drive grazed the outside of the far post.

Inter also had its chances to score the goal that would have all but killed the tie off as Henrikh Mkhitaryan fired over the bar, while Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan pulled off a brilliant reaction save to keep out an Edin Džeko header from close range.

Inter sealed its place in the final when Martínez made his way into left side of the area and exchanged passes with Romelu Lukaku — who had come on for Džeko less than 10 minutes earlier — before firing in at the near post.

It was that same formidable attacking partnership that fired Inter to the Serie A title two years ago, earning the duo the nickname “LuLa.”