MILAN - It might have been a derby but there was only one team on the pitch: the Nerazzurri claimed a thoroughly deserved 4-2 victory to complete a league double over city rivals AC Milan.
Milito pounced to break the deadlock in the 13th minute and Inter could have gone into the interval with a two-goal lead if Rizzoli had awarded a goal when Cambiasso's header seemingly crossed the line. The ref waved play on that time but put the whistle to his mouth down the other end after Julio Cesar had pushed the ball away from Boateng's feet: penalty and a booking for the keeper! Ibrahimovic converted from the spot then added a second at the start of the second half to put the Rossoneri in front. However, Milito was awarded a spot-kick five minutes later - after Lucio had been denied one - and the Prince made no mistake to bring the score to 2-2. Another penalty and another goal by Milito restored Inter's lead before Maicon put the icing on the cake with an absolute beauty.
The Nerazzurri beat AC Milan 4-2 and climb up to 58 points in the table, keeping alive their hopes of a third-place finish going into the final game of the season.
Meanwhile, at the Stadio Nereo Rocco in Trieste Juventus beat Cagliari 0-2 - a win that combined with Inter's victory means the Bianconeri are confirmed as Italian champions.
FIRST HALF – Stramaccioni welcomed back Zanetti and fielded the captain in a three-man midfield with Cambiasso and Guarin, while Sneijder and Alvarez started in support of Milito. Allegri was without Thiago Silva and gave Robinho the nod over Cassano alongside Ibrahimovic.
Julio Cesar celebrated his 300th match with the Nerazzurri and Cordoba was making his final appearance at the San Siro after 13 seasons. All the players wore No.2 shirts before kick-off and the Colombian was handed a commemorative plaque by president Moratti, before being congratulated by team-mates and opponents alike.
A sold-out Meazza and the choreography prepared by the Nerazzurri faithful provided a marvellous backdrop for the occasion.
Inter started on the front foot and Muntari looked to put the brakes on things in his own way as he slid into Sneijder with a nasty two-footed challenge in the 4th minute. Rizzoli gave him an early ticking off.
11 minutes in Nagatomo collected Alvarez's pass and went for goal but failed to trouble Abbiati. A minute later AC Milan had a great chance to open the scoring: Robinho sent a cross into the box and Ibrahimovic stabbed over the bar from close range.
Another foul on Sneijder provided the Dutchman with the chance to deliver a ball to the far post for Samuel; the Argentine knocked it back across goal into the path of Milito and the Prince slotted past Abbiati to open the scoring.
Moments after the restart Guarin was inches away from adding a second with a powerful long-range drive. Inter did have the ball in back of the net again on 19 minutes as Lucio smashed home the rebound after Abbiati had parried Sneijder's shot, but the linesman had flagged for offside.
Bonera was forced to withdraw in the 21st minute and youngster De Sciglio came on to replace him.
It was a pulsating encounter with both sides showing plenty of mettle but the Nerazzurri came to the fore in the 15-minute spell before half time: Sneijder's 32nd-minute corner led to Cambiasso's 'was it or wasn't it' goal – Abbiati flapped the ball out but replays certainly seem to suggest it crossed the line completely.
Moments later Sneijder got on the end of Nagatomo's delivery and fired in an angled effort; Abbiati made the save injuring himself in the process and was forced to leave the pitch. Amelia took the gloves.
Down the other end, Julio Cesar pulled off a minor miracle to deny Ibrahimovic from close range. He was called into action again in the 42nd minute: Boateng burst into the box and the Brazilian keeper clearly got a hand to the ball but Rizzoli decided to award a penalty and book Julio Cesar. Ibrahimovic stuck it away to make it 1-1.
That scoreline remained - with Inter being a goal short and Milan gifted a freebie - as the first period ended after three minutes of stoppage time.
SECOND HALF – The Rossoneri caught Inter cold at the start of the second half as Ibrahimovic slipped between two markers and arrowed his finish beyond Julio Cesar to put his side 2-1 up.
Now was the moment for Inter to dig deep and they immediately began probing for an equaliser. Sneijder conjured up a phenomenal volley from just inside the half that had Amelia scrambling back to block under the bar.
Rizzoli saw nothing wrong in the 50th minute as Nesta and Muntari ganged up on Samuel inside the box but the ref couldn't not give a penalty when Abate dragged Milito to the ground two minutes later. The Prince stepped up to fire Inter level again at 2-2.
Muntari had a gilt-edged chance to restore Milan's lead three minutes later: Ibrahimovic nodded goalwards into the path of the Ghanaian, who contrived to send the ball wide with his thigh from no more than three yards out.
Guarin fell to the ground untouched just after the hour mark but Milan kept playing and Julio Cesar was forced to block Robinho's near-post effort before the Colombian could be replaced by Obi.
Abate brought another save out of the Nerazzurri No.1 in the 70th minute - the full-back's close-range effort being tipped over – while down the other end Sneijder tested Amelia.
Nesta's handball after Pazzini's touch presented Milito with the chance for his hat-trick from the spot and the Prince duly dispatched to put Inter 3-2 up.
Soon afterwards AC Milan claimed a handball themselves but Cambiasso's arm was plainly behind his back.
Zanetti then brought the stadium to their feet as he embarked on a barnstorming run and sliced his way through the centre of Milan's defence before his cross was charged down by Nesta.
With six minutes of normal time remaining Stramaccioni brought Cordoba on for Sneijder and the game looked over. Inter continued to gush forward, though, and Maicon sealed the game with a peach of a goal in the 87th minute: after driving forward the Brazilian angled a rasping piledriver into the opposite top corner from 25 yards.
4-2 was the final score meaning Inter had won their second derby of the season. It was Stramaccioni's third success over the Rossoneri this term – his first with the big boys after two with the Primavera.
Inter 4-2 AC Milan (HT: 1-1)
Scorers: Milito 14, Ibrahimovic 44 (pen), Ibrahimovic 46, Milito 52 (pen), Milito 79 (pen), Maicon 87.
Inter: 1 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 6 Lucio, 25 Samuel, 55 Nagatomo; 4 Zanetti, 19 Cambiasso, 14 Guarin (Obi 62); 11 Alvarez (Pazzini 48), 10 Sneijder (Cordoba 84); 22 Milito.
Unused subs: 12 Castellazzi, 2 Cordoba, 17 Palombo, 23 Ranocchia, 28 Zarate.
Coach: Andrea Stramaccioni.
AC Milan: 32 Abbiati (Amelia 35); 20 Abate, 13 Nesta, 76 Yepes, 25 Bonera (De Sciglio 21); 22 Nocerino, 4 Van Bommel, 14 Muntari (Cassano 77); 27 Boateng; 70 Robinho, 11 Ibrahimovic.
Unused subs: 5 Mexes, 8 Gattuso, 18 Aquilani, 21 Maxi Lopez.
Coach: Massimiliano Allegri.
Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (Bologna).
Booked: Julio Cesar 43, Zanetti 45+3, Abate 52, Alvarez 55, Van Bommel 76, Maicon 87.
Added time: 3+3 minutes.