Milan snatch stoppage time winner to stay top of Serie A

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MILAN (Reuters) – AC Milan snatched a stoppage time winner with a Theo Hernandez header to beat Lazio 3-2 at home and stay top of Serie A on Wednesday after the visitors had earlier hit back from two goals behind.

Hernandez scored from a corner in the 92nd minute to leave Milan, still unbeaten this season, top of Serie A with 34 points, one ahead of Inter Milan who earlier won 2-1 at Verona for their seventh successive league win.

Milan had raced to a 2-0 lead in less than 20 minutes through an Ante Rebic header and Hakan Calhanoglu penalty before Luis Alberto pulled one back and Ciro Immobile levelled in the 59th minute.

Milan’s win was made all the more impressive as they were missing several key players including talismanic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, defender Simon Kjaer and midfielder Ismael Bennacer.

Even so, coach Stefano Pioli played down talk of winning a first Serie A title since 2011 and tiptoed around the subject.

“I continue to keep enthusiasm low for that, Juventus and Inter are the favourites for the Scudetto,” he said. “We have to consider the investments made by the respective teams, the history of the players and the championships.

“If the table is still like this in April, we would be thinking differently. Now let’s think about winning every match, then we’ll see where we can get to.”

Rebic put Milan in front in the 10th minute with a looping header from a Calhanoglu cross and the hosts went further ahead seven minutes later. Patric knocked over Rebic in the area, the referee awarded a penalty and Calhanoglu converted.

Lazio were also awarded a penalty following a VAR review after Joaquin Correa was tripped by Pierre Kalulu in the 28th minute. Immobile stepped up and saw his kick saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma but Luis Alberto snapped up the rebound.

Lazio equalised with a trademark goal just before the hour as Sergej Milinkovic-Savic floated a ball over the Milan defence and Immobile met it with an angled volley for his ninth league goal of the season.

Lazio looked capable of winning the game, but instead it was Milan who stole the points as Hernandez continued his excellent season by grabbing the winner with almost the last touch of the game.

Late Insigne goal gives Napoli 1-1 draw with Torino

 A stoppage-time equaliser from Lorenzo Insigne gave Napoli a 1-1 draw at home to struggling Torino on Wednesday as they snapped a two-game losing streak in Serie A.

After an uneventful first half, the home side wasted a decent chance early in the second when they were awarded a free kick in a central position but Insigne’s tame strike was comfortably dealt with by Salvatore Sirigu.

The visitors took a shock lead when a well-worked corner found Armando Izzo on the far side of the penalty area and he sent the ball looping over Alex Meret and into the net.

With Napoli storming forward looking for an equaliser, Piotr Zielinski pulled a shot just wide on the hour and his header in the 79th minute went straight to Sirigu for an easy save.

Torino looked to be heading for only their second win of the season until Zielinski picked out Insigne with a pass deep in stoppage time. Insigne fired home a wonderful goal to snatch a well-deserved point for Napoli.

Roma win five-goal thriller to go third, Sassuolo also climb

AS Roma bounced back from Sunday’s mauling at Atalanta to beat Cagliari in a 3-2 thriller on Wednesday and move back up to third in Serie A.

Jordan Veretout volleyed Roma in front in the 11th minute, despite not making proper contact with Rick Karsdorp’s cross, and Cagliari goalkeeper Alessio Cragno kept the score down with several outstanding saves before halftime.

Having survived the onslaught, the Sardinians levelled in the 59th minute when Joao Pedro took advantage after Roma lost possession.

The hosts replied with two goals in six minutes from Edin Dzeko and Gianluca Mancini and Joao Pedro pulled one back from a penalty in stoppage time.

Roma, beaten 4-1 at Atalanta on Sunday after a second-half performance which left coach Paulo Fonseca fuming, have 27 points, seven behind leaders AC Milan.

Sassuolo are one point behind in fourth after also winning by the odd goal in five, away to Sampdoria.

Junior Traore capitalised on sloppy Sampdoria play to give Sassuolo a second-minute lead.

Veteran Sampdoria forward Fabio Quagliarella levelled with a deflected shot in the 55th minute but Francesco Caputo put the visitors back in front one minute later and Domenico Berardi added a third two minutes after that.

Keita Balde pulled one back for Samp, only to get sent off for a reckless tackle shortly afterwards.

Atalanta, seventh with 22 points, lost ground after they squandered a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw at Bologna.

Luis Muriel scored twice in two minutes, the first from a penalty, midway through the first half before Takehiro Tomiyasu and Nehuen Paz replied for the hosts in the second half.

Lowly Genoa gave Davide Ballardini a winning start to his fourth stint as their coach with a 2-1 win at Spezia and Benevento won 2-0 at Udinese.

Writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Pritha Sarkar

Featured Image – AC Milan players celebrate after the Italian Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and SS Lazio at Giuseppe Meazza stadium in Milan, Italy, 23 December 2020. EPA-EFE/MATTEO BAZZI

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