Rafael Leao’s brace inspired AC Milan to an enthralling 3-2 victory over rivals Inter Milan in a five-goal thriller on derby day in Serie A on Saturday.
Inter took an early lead courtesy of Marcelo Brozovic, but AC turned the game around thanks to goals from Olivier Giroud and a Leao brace. Edin Dzeko came off the bench and netted instantly to reduce Inter’s deficit, but AC Milan stood firm to preserve their lead and claim all three points.
Although technically the away team, Inter wasted little time in making themselves at home. Brozovic was left one-v-one against Mike Maignan and calmly slotted the ball into the bottom corner on 21 minutes. This setback seemed to spark AC into life and they levelled the match seven minutes later thanks to Leao, whose excellent left-footed finish left Samir Handanovic helpless. A pulsating first half ended with the teams all square and with everything to play for.
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AC completed the comeback on 53 minutes when Giroud, who looked threatening throughout, swept the ball home from the edge of the box having been left totally unmarked. Leao netted his second of the match just after the hour mark with a brilliant solo run and finish. However, Inter were not going down without a fight and reduced the deficit with twenty-five minutes to play courtesy of Dzeko - who had only been on the pitch a matter of minutes – but AC rode a late storm to secure the victory.
Both teams will need to dust themselves down and get ready to begin their respective Champions League campaigns this week. AC Milan, who are in the same group as Chelsea, travel to FC Red Bull Salzburg on Tuesday evening, while Inter Milan host Bayern Munich on Wednesday night.

TALKING POINT

Footballing spectacle. The Milan derby rarely disappoints and today, it auditioned to become one of the best adverts for football we have seen anywhere this season. An enthralling encounter from start to finish with twists and turns which left us wondering where it was going next. Inter took an early lead before seemingly capitulating, only for Dzeko to re-ignite their spark which could have seen them snatch a point from two goals down. It wasn’t to be on this occasion, but the game had everything. Goals, misses, cards, scraps and of course, some guest appearances from VAR. AC Milan showed why they are the reigning champions, especially the nature of their response to going a goal down and the fashion in which they recovered to take control of the match. An amazing advert for Serie A and a fitting tribute to the beautiful game. More of the same in the weeks and months to come, please.

MILAN, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 03: Olivier Giroud of AC Milan celebrates scoring their side's third goal during the Serie A match between AC Milan and FC Internazionale at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on September 03, 2022 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Get

Image credit: Getty Images

PLAYER OF THE MATCH – RAFAEL LEAO

The 23-year-old Portuguese forward was sensational today. He was unplayable at times and his two goals were exquisitely taken. Leao and Giroud complement each other nicely. A young, energetic figure partnering an experienced target man looks appetising in theory and delightful in practice. Leao generated interest from PL clubs during the summer transfer window, with reports suggesting Chelsea were willing to pay hundreds of millions to acquire his services – you can see why. This man has a huge future in the game and looks set to flourish on Italian soil for the foreseeable.

MILAN, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 03: Rafael Leao of AC Milan celebrates after scoring the goal during the Serie A match between AC Milan and FC Internazionale at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on September 03, 2022 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/AC Milan via Ge

Image credit: Getty Images

PLAYER RATINGS

AC Milan: Maignan 8, Calabria 7, Kalulu 7, Tomori 7, Hernandez 7, Bennacer 7, Tonali 7, Messias 7, De Ketelaere 7, Leao 8, Giroud 8.
Subs: Kjaer 6, Diaz 6, Pobega 6, Saelemaekers 6, Origi 6.

Inter Milan: Handanovic 6, Skriniar 6, De Vrij 6, Bastoni 6, Dumfries 6, Barella 6, Brozovic 7, Calhanoglu 6, Darmian 6, Martinez 6, Correa 6.
Subs: D’Ambrosio 6, Gosens 6, Dzeko 7, Mkhitaryan 6, Dimarco 6.

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

21’ GOAL! AC MILAN 0-1 INTER MILAN (BROZOVIC)
Inter draw first blood in the derby and it's Brozovic who scores! He's left one-v-one against Maignan and slots the ball calmly into the corner. The 'visitors' have the lead!
28’ GOAL! AC MILAN 1-1 INTER MILAN (LEAO)
AC Milan have equalised, they're back on level terms thanks to Leao! An expertly taken finish from the left side of the box with his left-foot. He opens out his body and leaves Handanovic helpless. A champions response and it's game on!
53’ GOAL! AC MILAN 2-1 INTER MILAN (GIROUD)
Well, we said if you give him the service then he will deliver and he has! Giroud is unmarked and sweeps the ball home from near the edge of the box. An expertly taking finish and AC Milan have completed the comeback!
60’ GOAL! AC MILAN 3-1 INTER MILAN (LEAO)
Delight for AC and it's that man again, Leao scores their third of the evening! He waltzes past the Inter defence as if they were not there. This time, he shifts the ball onto his right foot and slots into the far corner. What a talent and no wonder PL clubs were willing to spend big money on this man.
66’ GOAL! AC MILAN 3-2 INTER MILAN (DZEKO)
This game just keeps on giving and Inter are back in the match! Super-sub Dzeko has pulled a goal back for Inter with twenty plus minutes left. It's such an unpredictable match, can Inter snatch something from it?

KEY STAT

Rafael Leao’s game by numbers vs Inter: 34 touches, five shots, three shots on target, two chances created, two goals and one assist. Involved in all three goals – Squawka.
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