Few competitions in the world football game Derby della Madonnina for passion, style, aggression and class on the pitch. It is an inclusive derby, where families can sit together and watch a show as spectacular as Milan fashion week. But, as the two clubs often compete for trophies, their meetings at the San Siro are usually full of drama. The IS Nerazzurri and Rossoneri who have given us some classics over the years. Here are some of their most memorable adventures.
Between 6-5 Milan, November 1949
Europe was still feeling the effects of the second world war and, in Italy, there would be a link between football and economic growth for years. The post-war context put even more pressure on Inter, who had not won a Scudetto for nine years and had won only five times since they were founded in 1908. They finished third in the 1949-50 season, behind. Juventus and Milan, but approached the derby with high hopes.
Milan were also confident of having a fine season. After all, they had the starting line of Gunnar Gren, Gunnar Nordahl and Nils Liedholm – the front three that led Sweden to Olympic gold at the 1948 London Olympics. This triumvirate would become legendary in Milan, winning the Scudetto together in 1951.
When this derby was played, Milan had only won three league titles. Their fans expected them to challenge in 1949-50 but the campaign did not start well, losing to Juventus and drawing with Como and Lazio in the run-up to their meeting with Inter. It was time to show what they could do.
The two teams had drawn 4-4 the previous season, but what happened in November 1949 was remarkable. To say that this game started quickly was an understatement. When Liedholm scored in the 19th minute, it made it 4-1 for Milan. Inter striker Amedeo Amadei pulled two back before Istvan Nyers equalised. When Milan took the lead again at 5-4, the game was surely over. Beyond all belief, Benito Lorenzi leveled for Inter before Amadeo scored his third and sealed the 6-5 win.
It is still the Milan derby with the highest score ever. Perhaps inspired by this glorious encounter, the two clubs won Serie A six times between them in the 1950s.
Milan 2-1 Inter, October 1984
Mark “Attila” Hateley had only been in Italy for a few months before this derby in October 1984. The Englishman picked the right time to score a dramatic winner. The atmosphere and physicality of the game suited him. Hateley was sent off earlier in the season, an offensive move that left him highly motivated. Now it was time to treat the supporters to a winning goal.
Milan were not the side they would come to later in the decade. Silvio Berlusconi’s helicopter had not yet descended on Milanello and the club had already been relegated twice in the 1980s: after the Totonero betting scandal in 1980 and because they were only very good at football in 1982. The win title beyond the club, so winning the derby was essential.
Liedholm, now manager, was assembling a team that would form the basis of the all-powerful Milan side of the late 1980s and 1990s. Serie A teams were only allowed to field two foreign players and in the case of Milan both were English – Ray Wilkins and Hateley. The latter would be the man of the moment.
Alessandro Altobelli opened the scoring for Inter in the 10th minute before Agostino Di Bartolomei equalized for Milan. Milan hadn’t won in five years, so it was the perfect time for Hateley to shine. In the 64th minute, Pietro Paolo Virdis sent a ball into the Inter box and Hateley jumped like a basketball player. He hit the ball past Inter goalkeeper Walter Zenga and sealed a 2-1 win for Milan.
Fans still owe the game and the goal. In 2016, supporters of the south stand at San Siro unveiled a banner that paid tribute to this goal, with the text reading: “Sovrastiamoli” (“Tower us above them”).
Between 0-6 Milan, May 2001
This game is something to be avoided by Inter fans. The rise did not give the impression that Milan were going to enjoy such a victory. The 2000-2001 season was a turbulent one for the club: Berlusconi was absent in pursuit of political dreams and Cesare Maldini was put in charge of the team temporarily when Alberto Zaccheroni was sacked. Meanwhile, there was no better. Marco Tardelli was looking to lift the club after Marcelo Lippi was sacked for losing to Helsingborg in the Champions League qualifying round.
Inter’s disaster in the derby was partially predicted by the Milan ultras in the stadium. Before the game they revealed a portrait that showed a red devil strangling a blue snake. Inter definitely went into a slump after this game. They were humiliated from start to finish and the eternal image will always be of Tardelli, caught on camera after the sixth goal, saying the words “mama mia“.
This game made Gianni Comandini a cult hero for Milan fans. He scored twice in this derby but only once more in his entire Milan career. On the other hand, the 6-0 defeat destroyed goalkeeper Sebastien Frey’s career at Inter. Don Nerazzurrithis derby is a stain that can never be washed away.
Between 0-3 Milan, April 2005
A game that will live infamy produced one of the most iconic images in the history of the game. For a while, the title was not in danger but the teams were playing for a place in the semi-finals of the Champions League. Milan entered the second leg of this tie with a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Jaap Stam and Andriy Shevchenko.
When Shevchenko opened the scoring in the second leg to give Milan a 3-0 lead on aggregate, the atmosphere was already toxic. All hell broke loose when Inter midfielder Esteban Cambiasso had a goal ruled out. Inter fans brought flares and objects onto the pitch in protest, leaving referee Markus Merk with little choice but to suspend the match. One flare hit Milan goalkeeper Dida in the ear.
Merk tried to restart the game 10 minutes later but the fans would not settle. Perhaps the only positive aspect of this game was the now infamous image of Marco Materazzi’s beanpole leaning on the shoulder of the onlooker Rui Costa, both opponents united in disappointment as they looked on a sea of fire and smoke. The game was cancelled; Milan won 3-0; Inter were heavily fined; and their fans were banned from the stadium for eight games.
Milan 0-4 Inter, August 2009
The first derby of the 2009-10 season came early, only in the second week of the campaign. He pitted José Mourinho against Milan’s new manager, Leonardo. Inter started the season with a whimper, drawing at home to Bari on the opening day. They lacked creativity and the board acted immediately, bringing in Wesley Sneijder from Real Madrid. Despite having no time to train with his new team-mates, he was immediately thrust into action against Milan and made an exceptional start.
Early goals from Thiago Motta and Diego Milito put Inter 2-0 up before Sneijder bamboozled Rino Gattuso into a red card after just 40 minutes. Great finishes from Maicon and Dejan Stankovic followed to send the Inter fans into delirium. In a season where Inter won the treble, there have been several important milestones and this is certainly the first. Sneijder was the missing link and Inter never looked back from here. They went on to win nine of their next 10 games and, by the end of the campaign, had dominated all that came before them.