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30 May 2024

Inter see off Benfica to set up Milan showdown

Published
By Reuters

Inter drew 3-3 with Benfica on Wednesday to win their Champions League quarter-final 5-3 on aggregate and will face city rivals AC Milan for the right to be the first Italian team to reach the final for six years.
It will be Inter's first semi-final appearance since they won the European Cup for the third time in 2010, the last Italian Champions League triumph with Juventus losing the 2015 and 2017 finals.
 
"It will be a special derby," Inter striker Lautaro Martinez, who ended his 10-game scoring drought by scoring his team's second goal against Benfica, told Amazon Prime Video.
"We all know what this game means, to play a Milan derby in the Champions League semi-finals.
"Happiness is the word, I'm so proud to represent this crest and this great club which is back to where it belongs."
Inter were resolute against Benfica and were never in danger of losing their grip on the tie, scoring in each one of their only three shots on target in the entire game.
 
Leading 2-0 from the first leg in Portugal, Inter were happy to sit back and wait for a counter-attack against a desperate Benfica side.
Inter took the lead after 13 minutes when defender Nicolas Otamendi failed to control a loose ball near his own area.
Nicolo Barella, who also scored Inter’s opener in the first leg, was quick to react and after a nice one-two combination with Lautaro he unleashed a thunderous left-foot strike into the top corner of the net.
Benfica equalised in the 38th minute when midfielder Fredik Aursnes leapt high to head a cross from Rafa Silva powerfully into the roof of the net.
Inter opened up a two-goal lead after the break as Martinez and substitute Joaquin Correa scored with close-range strikes and they were in control, holding Benfica to zero shots on target until the 86th minute.
 
The Portuguese side refused to lie down, however, and defender Antonio Silva with a close-range header and substitute Petar Musa scored late goals for Benfica to salvage a draw.
The Milan teams have met twice in the Champions League knockout stages, the 2002-03 semis and 2004-05 quarter-finals with AC Milan, seven-times European champions, winning both ties.
They will clash at the San Siro in the first leg on May 10 and on May 16 in the second leg. The winners will face Real Madrid or Manchester City, who meet in the semi-finals for the second consecutive season.