independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Inter old boy Balotelli fires blank in derby stalemate

Four days after beating Barcelona, AC Milan's mood was tempered following a 1-1 draw with Inter in a derby that was a tale of two sharply different halves.

Milan dominated the first half and took the lead through Stephen El Shaarawy in the 21st minute, but Inter responded after the break and substitute Ezequiel Schelotto equalised in the 71st.

"It was a fair result," Inter coach Andrea Stramaccioni said. "Milan had a great first half and they put us in trouble but we responded well and finished better, in a crescendo."

The draw left Milan third, six points behind second-place Napoli, who visit Udinese today, and 13 points behind Serie A leaders Juventus, who beat Siena 3-0. Inter are one point behind Milan and level with Lazio, who host struggling Pescara today.

In front of a colourful crowd at the San Siro, the 20-year-old El Shaarawy put the Rossoneri ahead by deftly controlling a pass from Kevin-Prince Boateng before using the outside of his foot to launch a precise shot in under the crossbar for his 16th goal of the season.

Six minutes later, Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic prevented Milan from taking a two-goal lead with an acrobatic save to stop a powerful header from Mario Balotelli. Inter fans waved inflated bananas and whistled at Balotelli. The forward, who is of Ghanaian descent, responded by holding a finger to his mouth midway through the second half.

In Spain, meanwhile, Radamel Falcao scored his 21st goal in the Spanish league this season to give 10-man Atletico Madrid a 1-0 win over Espanyol, ensuring the team stays in second place before its Copa del Rey semi-final. Falcao slotted home a spot-kick in the 37th minute at Vicente Calderon Stadium.

Lionel Messi helped Barcelona rebound from its loss at AC Milan by extending his league-record scoring run to 15 straight games in a 2-1 win over Sevilla, three days before the Spanish leaders' Copa del Rey clash with Real Madrid.

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