MILAN (Reuters) – Serie A leaders AC Milan maintained their unbeaten league record in dramatic fashion on Sunday when Theo Hernandez scored twice, including an injury-time equaliser, as they fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at home to Parma.
Milan, who have gone 23 Serie A games unbeaten since losing to Genoa in March, stayed top with 27 points from 11 matches, but saw their lead cut after the five teams behind them all won. Inter Milan are second with 24, followed by Napoli and Juventus (23), Sassuolo (22) and AS Roma (21).
Cristiano Ronaldo converted two late penalties on his 100th appearance for Juventus in all competitions as the Serie A titleholders ground out a 3-1 win away to a dogged Genoa side on Sunday.
Ronaldo, who also converted two penalties in the 3-0 win at Barcelona on Tuesday, struck in the 78th and 89th minutes, taking his tally to 10 in the league this season — as many as the entire Genoa team — and 14 all competitions.
Juve, chasing a 10th successive Serie A title, are fourth with 23 points from 11 games and are still unbeaten, although they have drawn five times. Genoa, who narrowly escaped the drop last season, are one off the bottom with six points.
Juve had 71% of possession but, not for the first time, Andrea Pirlo’s team struggled to open up stubborn opponents from the wrong end of the table.
“We had to put the Barcelona game out of our minds,” said Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo. “We knew we were up against a team that wanted to close ranks, so we had to be patient.
“The most important thing was our attitude — we couldn’t wait for them to play but we had to attack them.”
It took them 57 minutes to break through when Weston McKennie flicked the ball to Paulo Dybala and the Argentine beat Mattia Perin with a shot inside the near post for his first league goal of the season.
Genoa replied out of the blue four minutes later, Stefano Sturaro sidefooting past Wojciech Szczesny from Luca Pellegrini’s cross to score against his old club.
Dybala had a goal disallowed for offside and Ronaldo sent a free header straight at Perin before Juventus eventually wore Genoa down.
With 12 minutes left, Juan Cuadrado was sent sprawling by a clumsy Nicolo Rovella tackle and Ronaldo fired his spot kick into the middle of the goal.
Perin then upended Alvaro Morata after Genoa gave the ball away in defence and Ronaldo duly blasted the ball into the roof of the net.
“It was annoying to concede a goal at literally the first shot on target, especially a few minutes after we broke the deadlock, but we recovered from it,” said Pirlo.
“Dybala needed the goal to unblock himself mentally and physically. We’ve been waiting for this and now we expect even more from him.”
Milan, again missing talismanic forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic through injury, hit the woodwork four times and also saw a first-half goal disallowed while Parma scored from two of their three shots on target.
“We didn’t approach the game well, we were too relaxed, and then the game became difficult against opponents who were playing well,” said Milan coach Stefano Pioli.
“We had a lot of chances to equalise early on, but we’re a team with heart and character and we got it back in the end. A point won? We always play to win, I think there were chances to bring home the three points.”
Parma, who have 11 points, stunned the hosts by taking the lead after 13 minutes, with Hernani scoring after Gervinho burst down the left and pulled the ball back.
Samu Castillejo thought he had equalised in the 24th minute but VAR showed that he was offside and Milan’s frustration grew before halftime.
Brahim Diaz and Hakan Calhanoglu both saw shots bounce off the crossbar in successive attacks and Calhanoglu also struck the post from a free kick before the break.
Incredibly, Calhanoglu saw another effort smash the bar after halftime and Parma doubled their lead in the 56th minute when Hernani found an unmarked Jasmin Kurtic, who steered the ball home.
Hernandez almost immediately pulled one back for Milan, heading in from a corner to set up a dramatic last half hour.
The French left back completed the fightback in the 91st minute, firing the ball into the net from a rebound after keeper Luigi Sepe blocked Ante Rebic’s shot.
Juve, chasing a 10th successive Serie A title, are fourth with 23 points from 11 games and are still unbeaten, although they have drawn five times. Genoa, who narrowly escaped the drop last season, are one off the bottom with six points. Juve had 71% of possession but, not for the first time, Andrea Pirlo’s team struggled to open up stubborn opponents from the wrong end of the table.
AS Roma went on the rampage and blasted five first-half goals past a pitiful Bologna side on their way to a 5-1 away win in Serie A on Sunday. Each team also had two goals disallowed, and Roma hit the post as they went fifth in the table with 21 points, one more than Juventus who were away to Genoa later on Sunday.
Bologna midfielder Andrea Poli opened the floodgates when he turned a Leonardo Spinazzola pass into his own net after five minutes. Edin Dzeko ran onto Lorenzo Pellegrini’s through ball to add a second for Roma five minutes later.
Bologna’s second-choice goalkeeper Federico Ravaglia, making his Serie A debut, had to pick the ball out of the net again after only 15 minutes after Pellegrini scored from Spinazzola’s pass.
Furious Bologna coach Sinisa Mihajlovic said his players would be confined to a training camp, known locally as ‘ritiro’, until Christmas.
“The first half was disastrous,” he said. “We played like amateurs against a professional team. From tomorrow we go into training camp and we’ll clear our minds. I warned the lads it would happen if they showed the wrong attitude again.”
“We’ve been through a lot together and I’ve always tried to look after them. Sometimes I’ve made excuses for them, as you do with children, but there’s a limit to everything.”
Pellegrini then had a goal disallowed for offside and Bologna pulled one back in the 24th minute – although it was scored by a Roma player, Bryan Cristante turning Musa Barrow’s cross into his own net.
Jordan Veretout finished off a neat passing move for the fourth in the 35th minute, and Henrik Mkhitaryan put the finishing touch to Rick Karsdorp’s run down the right for the fifth one minute before halftime.
Mihajlovic made three halftime substitutions, and his team stemmed the tide after the break.
Barrow and Nicolas Dominguez had goals disallowed for Bologna for offside while Pellegrini had another Roma effort chalked off as offside shortly afterwards, before Borja Mayoral hit the woodwork for the visitors.
Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Toby Davis
Photo Parma’s goalkeeper Luigi Sepe in action during the Italian Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Parma Calcio 1913 at Giuseppe Meazza stadium in Milan, Italy, 13 December 2020. EPA-EFE/MATTEO BAZZI