AC Milan bounce back and win


AC Milan produced a superb second-half fightback from two goals down to beat Hellas Verona 3-2 at San Siro on Saturday and go top of the Serie A table.

Milan have now picked up 22 points after eight league games, their best record in the three-points-for-a-win era, going back to 1994-95.

“Verona were better than us in the first half, we were unlucky with the first goal but reacted after the break,” Milan coach Stefano Pioli told Sky Italia.

“I saw the right expressions on the faces of the players at halftime, we had to step it up and we did. It was a great test of maturity.”

A Gianluca Caprari strike and Antonin Barak penalty gave the visitors a comfortable halftime lead, but Olivier Giroud halved the deficit with a 59th-minute header.

The Rossoneri then turned the game on its head in the space of two minutes, as Franck Kessie equalized from the penalty spot and Koray Gunter steered an attempted clearance into his own net.

There was further good news for the hosts when Zlatan Ibrahimovic, their top scorer last season, made his return from injury from the bench for the final 13 minutes after more than a month out.

“Everyone knows his presence is very important to us. He is not yet in top condition, I hope he can improve and play a lot of games,” Pioli said.

Milan are one point clear on top ahead of Napoli, who play Torino on Sunday, while Verona are 13th with eight points.

Pioli’s side had a bad week with injuries, as goalkeeper Mike Maignan was ruled out for 10 weeks following wrist surgery before Theo Hernandez and Brahim Diaz tested positive for COVID-19.

They looked like a depleted force in the first half as stand-in keeper Ciprian Tatarusanu was forced into a save on an Ivan Ilic shot before Caprari smashed in the opening goal after seven minutes.

Things got worse when Barak converted a penalty after Nikola Kalinic went down under a challenge from Alessio Romagnoli, and Milan’s injury list grew longer when Ante Rebic limped off.

But the hosts were a team transformed in the second half and pulled one back when Giroud, making his first appearance since the end of September due to injury, headed in a Rafael Leao cross.

Kessie pulled Milan level with a 76th-minute spot-kick, and two minutes later Gunter had a moment he will want to forget quickly when a cross came in and he could not sort his feet out and accidentally guided a volley into his own net.

Ibrahimovic’s return gave the home crowd another moment to cheer, and the Swede tried to make it a memorable comeback with a spectacular overhead kick attempt, but he did not connect properly.

Lazio fly

Felipe Anderson and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic scored late to complete a 3-1 comeback win for Lazio against Serie A champions Inter Milan in Rome on Saturday, as Simone Inzaghi fell to his first league defeat as Inter coach against his former club.

Ivan Perisic’s penalty put Inter in front at the break, but Ciro Immobile levelled in the second half with a spot-kick of his own.

Anderson then fired Lazio ahead after 81 minutes, leaving Inter players furious that the hosts continued playing while the Nerazzurri had a man down, but Milinkovic-Savic made sure of victory with a close-range header in stoppage time.

“For an hour we put in one of our best performances. Then we conceded a penalty and when the strange second goal arrived we lost our heads,” Inter coach Inzaghi told DAZN.

“This must not happen. It can happen that the referee does not blow his whistle or the opponent does not put the ball out. But Milinkovic-Savic was alone for the third goal.”

Inter’s first defeat of the season leaves them third in the standings on 17 points, with Lazio moving up to fifth place, three points behind them.

It was an emotional day for Inzaghi, who left Lazio in the off-season after 22 years there as a player and coach to take charge of Inter, and returned for the first time as an opposing manager.

The 45-year-old was warmly greeted by the home crowd, with a banner held up saying “22 years with our colours will not be forgotten,” and it was Inzaghi’s side who took charge early on.

Perisic converted from the spot on the 12th minute after Elseid Hysaj tripped Nicolo Barella in the box, and the Croatian came close to a second before the break when his powerful strike was well saved by Pepe Reina.

The home side were struggling to find a way through a resolute visiting defence until they were awarded a penalty of their own on the 64th minute for an Alessandro Bastoni handball, which Immobile dispatched.

But the game truly came to life in the final 10 minutes. Anderson’s equaliser, a rebound from a Samir Handanovic parry, sparked an angry reaction from the Inter players, as the counter-attack leading to the goal came while Federico Dimarco was lying on the pitch with an injury.

The goal was checked by VAR and allowed to stand and Lazio went on to add a third on the 91st minute, nodding in a Luis Alberto free-kick.

However, scuffles between players reignited after the full-time whistle and Biancocelesti defender Luiz Felipe was shown a red card.

Earlier on Saturday, Spezia came from behind to beat second-bottom Salernitana 2-1 and move up to 15th place in what could prove to be a crucial result in the relegation battle.


Courtesy: Reuters


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