All eyes were on Mario Balotelli when he faced his former side FC Internazionale Milano on Sunday night in his first Derby della Madonnina in an AC Milan shirt, and he might have stolen the show had Samir Handanovič not produced a stunning save and a great overall performance to earn his side a 1-1 draw.
In the wake of last Wednesday's 2-0 UEFA Champions League round of 16 win against FC Barcelona, Milan dominated the first half and took the lead through Stephan El Shaarawy (21). Seven minutes later, Handanovič got a hand to Balotelli's bullet header from a with Milan comfortably in control, but the Nerazzurri responded well in the second half, equalising with a header from substitute Ezequiel Schelotto 19 minutes from time.
"All saves are important for a goalkeeper," Handanovič explained after the game. "When you dive you never really know if you will manage to reach the ball. Honestly, I think the most difficult save was in the second half when I dived at Balotelli's feet because [Antonio] Nocerino was also there and Milan would have certainly scored if I did not reach that low cross."
"I don't think our approach to the game was wrong," added the 28-year-old Slovenia goalkeeper. "Maybe we started with some fear of making mistakes and we gave away possession too easily. I think we did very well to respond as we did in the second half. We are fully aware that it's a difficult period with injuries and many games to play, but we gritted our teeth."
Goalscorers El Sharaawy and Schelotto both believed their sides could have earned all three points. "Of course, scoring in the derby is a great satisfaction," said the 20-year-old El Sharaawy, after registering his 16th goal of the campaign. "However the most important thing was to win because there were important points at stake. We could have killed the game off in the first half – we could have scored three goals."
"It was my first derby, and starting like that is just amazing," added the 23-year-old Schelotto, who scored his first goal with the Nerazzurri since his January move from Atalanta BC. "It's a feeling I will never forget. For the first time since I moved here I had all my brothers and my girlfriend Gisela watching me from the stands. During the interval our coach asked us to show our fighting spirit. We created a lot of chances and we could have turned the game on its head with a bit more luck."
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