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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s brace gives Milan derby win over Inter; Juventus drop points

AC Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic, recently recovered from the coronavirus, scored a brace to secure a 2-1 win over Inter. Juventus, on the other hand, were held to a 1-1 draw against promoted Crotone.

By: Reuters |
Updated: October 18, 2020 10:28:59 am
AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates scoring his second goal against Inter. (REUTERS)

AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, recently recovered from the coronavirus, scored an early brace to secure a 2-1 win over neighbours Internazionale in the Serie A derby on Saturday.

The 39-year-old Swedish striker put Milan in front after 13 minutes, tapping the ball in from the rebound after his penalty was saved by Samir Handanovic, and struck again three minutes later to give his side their first league win over their neighbours since January 2016.

Romelu Lukaku pulled one back for Inter in the 29th minute, the first Serie A goal Milan have conceded this season, and had a penalty revoked by VAR for offside in the second half.

Milan have won all four games in Serie A this season and lead with 12 points while Inter have seven after their first defeat.

AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli said he needed Ibrahimovic’s prowess on both sides of the field to help the side get the victory.

“He was very tired and asked me for a substitution but I didn’t listen to him and he stayed on the pitch until the end,” said Pioli. “He is a champion in everything he does, an exemplary professional who always wants to win and his contribution to the team is very important.”

Inter had six players unavailable after testing positive for COVID-19 in the last 10 days and others were returning from a hectic week of international football, including three from South America.

Around 1,000 spectators, all invited, were allowed at San Siro.

Ibrahimovic, who returned to training last week after testing positive for COVID-19, made an instant impact as he was fouled by Aleksandar Kolarov and won a penalty. Although his spot kick was saved, he was able to tap in from the rebound.

Three minutes later, Hakan Calhanoglu sent Rafael Leao clear down the left and his inviting cross was calmly turned in by Ibrahimovic at the far post.

Inter quickly got back into the game thanks to Lukaku. Ivan Perisic got free down the left, his low cross caught goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma in no man’s land and Lukaku reacted in time to score from close range.

As Inter took control, Lautaro Martinez saw a header cleared off the line by Simon Kjaer and Lukaku headed centimetres wide after being left unmarked by the Milan defence.

Inter also had the better chances in a much more subdued second half and were awarded a penalty when Lukaku went down under Donnarumma’s challenge but VAR ruled that the Belgian was offside in the build-up.

Lukaku was twice close to a stoppage time equaliser as he prodded the ball wide at full stretch and saw a backheeled effort saved by Donnarumma.

Chiesa sent off on debut as Juventus held away at Crotone

Juventus’ Federico Chiesa fouls Crotone’s Luca Cigarini before being sent off. (Source: Reuters)

Juventus winger Federico Chiesa was sent off on his debut and the Serie A champions also had a goal disallowed by VAR for offside by the tiniest of margins as they were held to a 1-1 draw at promoted Crotone on Saturday.

Chiesa, signed from Fiorentina during the recent transfer window, was given a straight red card for a studs-up challenge on Luca Cigarini on the hour before Morata’s goal was chalked off after a three-minute delay because his heel was offside.

Juventus were missing Cristiano Ronaldo after he tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday while Gianluigi Buffon, their second choice keeper, became the first player to make 650 Serie A appearances.

Juve, chasing a 10th straight title, have eight points from four games while Crotone picked up their first point.

Crotone started well and Simy put them ahead after 12 minutes, the Nigerian sending 42-year-old Buffon the wrong way from the penalty spot after a foul by Leonardo Bonucci on Arkadiusz Reca.

Chiesa provided an assist for Juve’s equaliser nine minutes later as he ran on to Dejan Kulusevski’s through ball and laid it off for Morata to score from close range.

Pedro Pereira tested Buffon again just before the break while Manolo Portanova was denied by Alex Cordaz at the other end.

Juve’s evening began to unravel with Chiesa’s dismissal. The 22-year-old lifted his studs dangerously as Cigarini came into tackle him and was immediately sent off amid Juve protests.

Morata then saw his header hit the inside of the post before having what he thought was the winner chalked off.

Juan Cuadrado weaved his way past two defenders and his weak shot was deflected in by Morata but VAR officials disallowed it to the delight of the 1,000 fans allowed into the ground.

Seven minutes of stoppage time were added but, by then, Crotone seemed happy with the draw.

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