Inter Milan won the first leg 2-0 to earn a 3-0 aggregate win over their rivals.
Inter will undoubtedly be the underdogs against either Real Madrid or Manchester City in Istanbul on June 10, but the way they managed both legs of this all-Milan tie suggests they will be hard to beat.
The key moment of the night at the San Siro came when Argentinian Martinez exchanged passes with substitute Romelu Lukaku and drilled a shot from inside the penalty area that Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan allowed in at his near post.
Martinez, Inter’s captain, hailed the cohesion of his team over the two matches against their city rivals.
“What counts is the squad. I experienced it at the World Cup (with Argentina),” he said.
“It makes it easy if you have a united squad with everyone pulling in the same direction. It means you get to play these very important matches in the best possible way.”
He added: “After winning the World Cup and experiencing what is the pinnacle for a player I knew we could reach this final, and we did it.”
His goal effectively killed off the tie.
Trailing 2-0 from the first leg, Milan had pushed hard in the first half, spearheaded by Rafael Leao who shot across the goal and past the post with one of his side’s best chances.
Maignan then superbly dropped to his knees to collect Edin Dzeko’s glancing header from Hakan Calhanoglu’s pacy free-kick.
Lukaku’s introduction in the second half proved the spark that Inter needed to extend their lead.
Absent for much of the season with injuries and with a damaged reputation following a disastrous World Cup with Belgium, Lukaku has slowly worked his way back to his best.
The forward on loan from Chelsea immediately caused problems in the Milan defence and created Martinez’s goal to guarantee their place in their first Champions League final since the last time they won European club football’s biggest prize under Jose Mourinho in 2010. (AFP)