Zlatan Ibrahimovic double strike gives Milan derby victory over Inter | Football

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, recently recovered from a Covid-19 infection, scored an early double to secure a 2-1 win for Milan over neighbours Internazionale in the Serie A derby on Saturday.

The 39-year-old Swedish striker put Milan in front after 13 minutes, tapping the ball in from the rebound after his penalty was saved by Samir Handanovic, and struck again three minutes later to give his side their first league win over their neighbours since January 2016.

Romelu Lukaku pulled one back for Inter in the 29th minute, the first Serie A goal Milan have conceded this season, and had a penalty revoked by VAR for offside in the second half.

Milan have won all four games in Serie A this season and lead with 12 points while Inter have seven after their first defeat.

Milan’s coach, Stefano Pioli, refused a request from Ibrahimovic to substitute the forward during the second half. Pioli said he needed the Swede’s experience as they defended their lead late in the game.

“He was very tired and asked me for a substitution but I didn’t listen to him and he stayed on the pitch until the end,” said Pioli. “He is a champion in everything he does, an exemplary professional who always wants to win and his contribution to the team is very important.”

His opposite number, Antonio Conte, was left frustrated at the defeat and returned to one of his favourite themes, saying that Inter had failed to take their chances. “We’re sorry to have lost a game where we played well. Milan were good and I think, also, lucky. We lacked concentration on their two goals,” he said.

“In every game, we create so many chances to score goals, but we have to be more clinical in taking them … It’s disappointing because the lads certainly put the effort in and believed they could win.”

The first half was an end-to-end affair but the pace dropped considerably in the second half as mistakes crept in and the match became increasingly niggly. Inter had six players unavailable after testing positive for Covid-19 in the last 10 days and others were returning from a hectic week of international football, including three from South America. Around 1,000 spectators, all invited, were allowed at San Siro.

Ibrahimovic, who returned to training last week after testing positive for the virus, made an instant impact as he was fouled by Aleksandar Kolarov and won a penalty. Although his spot kick was saved, he was able to tap in the rebound.

Three minutes later, Hakan Calhanoglu sent Rafael Leão clear down the left and his inviting cross was calmly turned in by Ibrahimovic at the far post.

Inter quickly got back into the game thanks to Lukaku. Ivan Perisic got free down the left, his low cross caught goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma in no man’s land and Lukaku reacted in time to score from close range.

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As Inter took control, Lautaro Martínez saw a header cleared off the line by Simon Kjær and Lukaku headed narrowly wide after being left unmarked by the Milan defence.

Inter also had the better chances in a much more subdued second half and were awarded a penalty when Lukaku went down under Donnarumma’s challenge but VAR ruled that the Belgian was offside in the buildup.

Lukaku was twice close to a stoppage-time equaliser as he prodded the ball wide at full stretch and saw a backheeled effort saved by Donnarumma.

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