Napoli escape Salernitana scare


Napoli maintained the top spot in Serie A with a 1-0 win at Salernitana on Sunday, but they had to work hard against the relegation battlers as Piotr Zielinski scored a scrappy winner and both sides had players sent off late in the game.

The result leaves Luciano Spalletti’s unbeaten side with 31 points, three clear of second-placed AC Milan, who visit Roma in Sunday’s late game. Salernitana are 19th with seven points.

Napoli struggled to threaten in the absence of injured top scorer Victor Osimhen and captain Lorenzo Insigne, who was only fit enough for the bench, but they eventually broke through in a chaotic fashion in the 61st minute.

Substitute Andrea Petagna headed against the bar, the ball was cleared as far as Mario Rui and the defender’s shot deflected into the path of Zielinski for a close-range finish.

It was Napoli’s first shot on target and proved to be enough for a precious win, but there was more incident to come as Salernitana midfielder Grigoris Kastanos and Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly earned red cards inside the final 20 minutes.

Earlier on Sunday, Fiorentina’s Dusan Vlahovic scored a hat-trick to fire his seventh-placed side to a 3-0 win over a Spezia team stuck in the relegation zone. Fiore have 18 points.

The 21-year-old Serbian’s tally for 2021 now stands at 25 goals, a record only Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski (36 goals) and Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland (26) better in Europe’s top-five leagues.

Empoli rose to 10th, level on 15 points with Juventus, after coming from behind to beat 12th-placed Sassuolo, while Genoa and Venezia, who both sit just above the drop zone, drew 0-0.

Correa double strike helps Inter

Joaquin Correa scored twice in the space of eight second-half minutes to earn Inter Milan a 2-0 win over Udinese in Serie A on Sunday.

Simone Inzaghi’s side are third with 24 points, four behind leaders Napoli and second-placed AC Milan, who face Salernitana and Roma respectively later on Sunday.

The hosts struggled to break down a well-organised Udinese defence in the first half despite the efforts of midfielder Nicolo Barella, who fired seven shots at goal before half-time.

But a superb individual effort from Argentina forward Correa put Inter in front after an hour, and he fired in a second eight minutes later to earn the Nerazzurri a comfortable victory.

Inzaghi rotated his team amid a busy run of fixtures for Inter, with Stefan De Vrij and Lautaro Martinez among the players rested ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League trip to Sheriff Tiraspol and next weekend’s Milan derby against AC Milan.

Pre-match reports suggested that Italy international Barella might also have been given a rest, but he started and proved more determined than anyone to open the scoring in the first half.

The 24-year-old sent a dipping shot narrowly over and forced two good saves from Marco Silvestri as he produced seven shots before the break, more than any midfielder has mustered in a full Serie A game this season.

But it was Correa who eventually found a way through on the 60th minute, dribbling in from the left-wing, skipping past Bram Nuytinck and shooting into the bottom corner.

Correa, who had a quiet afternoon until his goal, soon added a second when Denzel Dumfries picked him out at the edge of the box with a cut-back and the striker had time and space to pick out the top corner.

Udinese substitute Gerard Deulofeu provided a spark from the bench, drawing a fingertip save from Samir Handanovic before scoring in a crowded box from the resulting corner, but the goal was disallowed for an earlier offside.

AC Milan conquer Rome

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his 150th Serie A goal as AC Milan inflicted Jose Mourinho’s first home defeat in the Italian top flight with a 2-1 win over AS Roma at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday to keep pace with Serie A leaders Napoli.

The 40-year-old striker rifled a low free-kick into the bottom corner in the 25th minute to put the visitors ahead after a lively start, his 400th goal in total in domestic leagues.

Ibrahimovic had a brilliantly finished second ruled out for offside after the break, just like teammate Rafael Leao in the first half, before going down under Roger Ibanez’s challenge to earn a spot-kick that Franck Kessie converted in the 57th minute.

Milan were reduced to 10 men for the final 25 minutes after left-back Theo Hernandez was shown a second yellow card, but Stephan El Shaarawy’s stoppage-time strike was not enough to rescue the game for Roma.

Victory leaves Milan second, level on 31 points with leaders Napoli, and 12 points ahead of fourth-placed Roma.


Courtesy: Reuters

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