Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud worked well together at Arsenal under Arsene Wenger, but there was no love lost between the pair when they lined up at opponents in Milan
Former Arsenal teammates Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez went head-to-head in a tightly-contested Milan derby on Saturday, and Giroud took the opportunity to completely wipe out his one-time colleague.
Both forwards left north London in January 2018, Arsene Wenger’s final transfer window at the Emirates Stadium, and both spent time elsewhere in the Premier League before moving to Serie A.
Sanchez has been rediscovering a bit of form since leaving Manchester United for Inter Milan, initially on loan, while Giroud’s importance to AC Milan was emphasised by his double strike giving Stefano Pioli’s team all three points at the San Siro.
There was no sign of the French international going easy on his Chilean opponent, though, and one moment in particular highlighted the competitive nature of the meeting.
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Before kick-off, Inter were four points above Milan at the top of the Serie A table with a game in hand, so a defeat for the Rossoneri would have left them with a huge task in their title pursuit.
Things weren’t looking great for Giroud and his teammates when Ivan Perisic gave Inter a half-time lead which they held until 15 minutes from time.
And Inter had plenty of complaints about the veteran’s equaliser after he wiped out Sanchez in the build-up to the goal.
With the opponents battling for the ball near the centre-circle, Giroud used his strength to barge into Sanchez, a man considerably smaller than him.
The Chilean was left down on the turf, but Inter’s claims for a free-kick were ignored by referee Marco Guida.
To make matters worse for Simone Inzaghi’s side, Milan broke forward and Giroud stayed onside to turn home Brahim Diaz’s deflected shot for the equalising goal.
Former referee Luca Marelli defended the decision on TV after the game, telling DAZN (via SempreInter ) that VAR would not have been able to intervene as it was not a clear and obvious error from Guida.
“It’s a discretionary decision…it wasn’t a clear and obvious error and do the decision on the pitch was upheld, namely to play on,” he said.
Giroud, perhaps buoyed by his equalising goal, struck Milan’s second just three minutes after his 75th-minute equaliser, spinning away from Stefan de Vrij and beating Samir Handanovic with a low shot.
Inter boss Inzaghi refused to blame the Sanchez incident for his side’s defeat, telling club media : “Their equaliser was a bit strange with Sanchez getting shoved quite forcefully by Giroud, but we should’ve already been two or three goals up by that point and if so, that incident wouldn’t have had a bearing on the result.”
“We had to give everything in the second half because it was today and not tomorrow,” Giroud told CBS after the victory.
“Tomorrow would have been too late. It was a six-point game and we knew it before.
“We’ve done it, we’re in a better position now but we are still chasing them.
“It’s nice because we — one more time — showed great team character.”