Simone Inzaghi revealed that Inter only wanted him to reach the last 16 after securing a Champions League final berth following victory over AC Milan.
Carrying a 2-0 lead from the first leg, the Nerazzurri put in a professional performance against bitter rivals AC Milan in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final to win 1-0, courtesy of a Lautaro Martinez strike in the 74th minute.
Although Stefano Pioli’s men started the night with intent and purpose, Inzaghi’s troops gradually grew into the game and remained solid at the back to protect their lead. They have qualified for the Champions League final for the first time in 13 years, since Jose Mourinho’s side’s incredible triumph in 2009.
However, Inzaghi made a startling revelation that Inter had asked him to only reach the Round of 16 after he took over from Antonio Conte, as the team management thought it was an appropriate target given their recent miseries in the continental tournament and lack of big-money signings.
“I was asked 19 months ago to reach the Champions League Round of 16, which the club hadn’t managed it since 2011. I thought last season’s Champions League run was very good, this one even better. Nobody gave us anything for free, we faced strong opponents and earned our place in the final,” he told Sport Mediaset after the match.
“In the next few days we might realise what happened. It was a dream at the start, but we always believed, had an extraordinary run and to win the semi-final in a derby this way is immensely satisfying. We can only praise the lads. They showed strength, determination, aggression, concentration, they were wonderful. We played four derbies since January and won all four, we know Milan are the Champions of Italy and have huge quality, but the players were excellent and deserve to enjoy this evening.”
Since the last week of April, Inter have strung together a run of five wins in the league, a place in the Coppa Italia and the Champions League final to resurrect their season. Now they are set to face either Real Madrid or Manchester City in the final in Istanbul and Inzaghi can’t wait to find out their opponents.
“They are two of the best teams in Europe. The first leg was balanced, you can see the quality at their disposal. I am happy with what we have achieved and I’ll clearly watch tomorrow’s match with great, great interest,” he added.
Inter face Napoli next in Serie A on Sunday and will then turn their attention to the Coppa Italia final against Fiorentina on May 25.