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Sunday, January 17, 2021

AC Milan rebound from Juventus loss with easy victory over Torino

AC Milan, who are bidding for a first Serie A title in a decade, were firmly in control at halftime against Torino following a Rafael Leao strike and a Franck Kessie penalty on Saturday.

By: AP | Milan | January 10, 2021 9:31:29 am
AC Milan's Franck Kessie in action with Torino's Andrea Belotti. (Reuters)

AC Milan bounced back from its first Serie A loss by beating relegation-threatened Torino 2-0 and extending its lead in the standings.

Milan, which is bidding for a first league title in a decade, was firmly in control at halftime following a Rafael Leao strike and a Franck Kessie penalty on Saturday.

Stefano Pioli’s side moved four points ahead of city rival Inter Milan, which faces a potentially challenging visit to third-placed Roma on Sunday.

Milan hosts Torino again on Tuesday, in the Italian Cup.

Defeat to Juventus midweek was Milan’s first in Serie A since March and the Rossoneri were still without several injured players including Zlatan Ibrahimovic — although the forward was sent in for the final few minutes.

Milan led from the 25th minute when Theo Hernandez surged forward from midfield and found Brahim Diaz, who sent a through ball in for Leao to prod into the bottom right corner.

Diaz won a penalty 10 minutes later when he was tripped by Andrea Belotti and Kessie converted.

Torino defender Ricardo Rodriguez almost scored against his former club but his free-kick came off the crossbar.

Torino also thought it had a penalty early in the second half when midfielder Sandro Tonali appeared to foul Simone Verdi but the referee changed his mind after viewing the incident on the pitchside monitor. Tonali was injured in that incident and taken off on a stretcher.

SUPER ILICIC

Josip Ilicic appears to be back to his best after inspiring Atalanta to a 4-1 win at Benevento.

Ilicic scored Atalanta’s opener, hit the post, and had a hand in another two goals — for Rafael Toloi and Duvan Zapata — after Marco Sau’s equalizer. Luis Muriel netted a spectacular fourth for Atalanta.

Atalanta moved into fourth spot, nine points behind Milan. Benevento remained 10th. Atalanta has made a great start to 2021, having scored eight goals in its two matches and conceded just one.

Ilicic put on a masterclass at Benevento and he set up a couple of chances before opening the scoring in the 30th minute. The Slovenia midfielder gathered the ball on the right and cut inside, dribbling past three defenders before firing into the bottom near corner.

Benevento leveled five minutes after the break as halftime substitute Christian Pastina, who was making his Serie A debut, lifted a ball over the top for Sau to slide in at the back post.

Atalanta all but secured the win with two quickfire goals provided by Ilicic. In the 69th, Ilicic burst into the box following a quick one-two and although his effort was parried by Lorenzo Montipo, Toloi turned in the rebound.

Two minutes later, a counterattack down the right saw Ilicic cross in for Zapata to volley into the bottom left corner.

Muriel was sent on shortly after and he curled a fantastic strike into the top right corner for his sixth goal in five matches.

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