Romelu Lukaku scored from the penalty spot as Inter Milan battled past title rivals Napoli 1-0 on Wednesday to move one point behind Serie A leaders and city rivals AC Milan who were held at Genoa.
Defending champions Juventus sit three points behind Inter after Cristiano Ronaldo missed a penalty in a 1-1 home draw with Atalanta.
Napoli — who played the final quarter of an hour a man down after captain Lorenzo Insigne was sent off — drop to fourth, a further point adrift.
Insigne saw red for arguing with the referee after goalkeeper David Ospina fouled Inter’s Matteo Darmian to concede the crucial spot-kick.
“Only in Italy players are thrown out for this stuff,” fumed Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso, blasting “a dubious penalty”.
Napoli also saw club record scorer Dries Mertens limp off with an ankle injury in the first half.
Lukaku stepped up to slot in on 73 minutes for his 10th league goal this season, joining Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the top of the Serie A goalscoring chart.
Inter could also thank goalkeeper Samir Handanovic for their clean sheet, denying Insigne and Giovanni Di Lorenzo late on.
For Antonio Conte’s Inter it was a fifth consecutive league win as they target a first Scudetto since 2010, with their European hopes now over.
“It was a painful victory that can do us good,” said Conte. “These are three important points because against a rival and a great team like Napoli they are worth double.”
AC Milan, playing a fourth consecutive league game without the injured Ibrahimovic, came from behind twice to secure a 2-2 draw as Mattia Destro scored a double for Genoa.
The Italian striker tapped in a rebound after Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma denied Eldor Shomurodov just after the break.
Five minutes later, Davide Calabria’s long-range effort pulled Milan level before Destro headed in a second on the hour.
But French defender Pierre Kalulu nodded in from close range to rescue a second consecutive draw for Milan, who stay unbeaten in Serie A since March and are looking to deny Juventus a 10th straight league triumph this season.
“We had six players out and had to grit our teeth but those who played proved to be up to par,” said coach Stefano Pioli.
“Our club has not been in the Champions League for many years and that is our goal.”
Sixth Juventus stalemate
In Turin, unbeaten Juventus were held for the sixth time in Serie A this term.
Federico Chiesa curled in a powerful shot to put Juventus ahead before the half-hour mark.
But Atalanta hit back with Remo Freuler grabbing the equaliser 12 minutes into the second half, shortly after captain Papu Gomez came off the bench.
The build-up to the game had been overshadowed by tensions between coach Gian Piero Gasperini and Gomez, left out of their last two league games amid speculation he could leave the Bergamo club in January.
Ronaldo, who had fired over the target in the fifth minute, had a rare penalty miss after an hour following a Hans Hateboer foul on Chiesa.
The Portuguese striker’s weak effort was easily saved by Atalanta keeper Pierluigi Gollini.
Spaniard Alvaro Morata had missed a golden chance after 12 minutes, sending a weak back-heel flick wide in front of an open goal.
At the other end of the pitch, Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny saved a Cristian Romero header with a quarter of an hour to go.
“You have to take these games home,” said Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo.
“We had many opportunities and we weren’t able to close it. When you leave the game in the balance anything can happen.”
Atalanta, who also held Juventus the last time they played in Turin last July, are eighth, 10 points behind AC Milan, after a slow start to the campaign.
“It’s a great result,” said Gasperini. “We were very good, at one point we were convinced of winning it.
“We played with personality against a team that are one of the favourites for the Scudetto.”
Fifth-placed Sassuolo drew 1-1 at Fiorentina, whose winless run stretched to seven games.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice to bring his tally to 10 league goals this season before limping off with a muscle strain as AC Milan stayed top in Serie A on Sunday with a 3-1 win at 10-man Napoli.
Milan move back two points ahead of Sassuolo — 2-0 winners earlier at Hellas Verona — with Roma third after Henrikh Mkhitaryan netted a brace in a dominant 3-0 win over Parma.
“For me Zlatan is stronger now than 10-12 years ago,” said Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso of his former Milan teammate.
“Milan strongly believes in Ibra, his teammates trust him 100 percent.
“In my opinion, their team is not the strongest but they have the mentality.
“We play well but lose as soon as it gets difficult.”
Ibrahimovic continued his fine form, heading in a Theo Hernandez cross after 20 minutes, sending in the second with his knee nine minutes after the break.
But the 39-year-old pulled up clutching his left hamstring and was substituted after 79 minutes.
The Swede has scored in all six games he has played this season, having missed two after contracting coronavirus.
Coach Stefano Pioli missed the trip south with Covid-19, but his side got their first league win in Naples since October 2010, the season they last won the Scudetto, with Ibrahimovic also on the scoresheet that time.
Napoli played the final half an hour a man down after Tiemoue Bakayoko was sent off for two yellow cards, just after Dries Mertens had pulled a goal back for the hosts.
Norwegian Jens Petter Hauge completed the scoring five minutes into injury time, the 21-year-old getting his first Serie A goal.
Champions Juventus are fourth — four points off top spot — after winning 2-0 at Cagliari on Saturday.
Last season’s runners-up Inter Milan are just behind in fifth, after a Romelu Lukaku double inspired a 4-2 comeback win over Torino, with Napoli dropping from third to sixth — six points off top spot.
Inter ‘lack ferocity’
In Milan, Torino got off to a strong start despite playing without top striker Andrea Belotti who pulled up during the warm-up.
Simone Zaza took the skipper’s place and scored the opener just before the break with Cristian Ansaldi adding a second from the penalty spot after an hour.
Inter reacted in the 64th minute, with Alexis Sanchez bundling the ball in after Lukaku’s initial effort was tipped onto the crossbar, before the Chilean set up his fellow former Manchester United forward for the equaliser three minutes later.
Lukaku pulled Inter ahead from the penalty spot six minutes from time and then provided the cross for substitute Lautaro Martinez to score the fourth on 90 minutes.
“I didn’t like what I saw,” said Inter coach Antonio Conte three days before his side host Real Madrid in the Champions League.
“We lack the ferocity of last season.
“But we showed character as being 2-0 down could have destroyed us.”
Torino drop into the relegation zone after their fifth defeat.
In Verona, Sassuolo continued their impressive run thanks to goals in either half from Jeremie Boga and Domenico Berardi.
The side from Emilia Romagna are unbeaten this season and are the joint top scorers with 20 goals.
Roma meanwhile stretched their unbeaten run in all competitions to 10 matches, cementing victory with three first-half goals.
Borja Mayoral got his first Serie A goal just before the half-hour mark, with Mkhitaryan adding two more before the break to bring his tally to five in two games after scoring a hat-trick last time out against Genoa.
In Tuscany, Cesare Prandelli had a nightmare start as coach of struggling Fiorentina with a 1-0 home defeat by Benevento.
Former Italy coach Prandelli returned to the ‘Viola’ a decade after leaving for the Azzurri job in 2010, but the team fell to their fourth defeat.
To add to Prandelli’s woes, French midfielder Franck Ribery went off injured.
“The fragility worries me most,” said Prandelli.
“Perhaps the team succumbed to their fears and negative thoughts when Franck came off.”
Riccardo Improta scored his first Serie A goal for Benevento on 52 minutes, slotting in a Gabriele Moncini cross after a Cristiano Biraghi defensive error.
Fiorentina slip to 15th in the Serie A table, just behind Benevento.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic struck twice in his first match back from coronavirus on Saturday as AC Milan beat city rivals Inter Milan 2-1 to take top spot in Serie A ahead of Atalanta who slumped 4-1 at Napoli.
But champions Juventus, playing without quarantined Cristiano Ronaldo, were held 1-1 at promoted Crotone whose first top-flight point this season moved the southerners off the bottom of the table.
“I was so hungry and it showed,” said Ibrahimovic who bagged his second double in as many league matches.
“They locked the wrong animal at home for two weeks.
“It’s not easy mentally to always be at home coming off a very high pace, the body is shaking because it wants to work, it wants to play.
“I lost my sense of taste a little bit, but I had a swab every three days and nobody was going to stop me playing the derby.
“This derby was very important, AC Milan hadn’t won for four years.”
The 39-year-old stamped his mark on the game early, having also scored back in February only for Inter to win 4-2.
He missed a 13th-minute penalty but turned in the rebound, with a perfect Rafael Leao cross setting up the Swede for the second three minutes later.
Romelu Lukaku pulled a goal back after half an hour but Antonio Conte’s Inter were struggling with six players out to Covid-19.
Milan won their opening four matches for the first time since the 1995-1996 season when they won the title under Fabio Capello.
And Stefano Pioli’s side are top of the table with maximum 12 points, three ahead of Atalanta who fell to third-placed Napoli, who are equal on eight points with Juventus.
– Chiesa sees red on debut – Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo blamed his new-look team’s inexperience as they finished a second game with ten men.
The champions were without Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala with new signing Federico Chiesa sent off on his debut.
It was a second stalemate in four games for the nine-time reigning champions despite being awarded a 3-0 win after Napoli’s no-show in Turin.
Crotone took the lead after 12 minutes when Nigerian Simy got a penalty past Gianluigi Buffon, making his 650th Serie A appearance between the posts.
Chiesa, 22, set up Alvaro Morata for the equaliser nine minutes later, but the 22-year-old was harshly sent off for a late tackle on Luca Cigarin.
Morato missed two chances for the winner as a header rattled the post with the Spaniard having a goal ruled offside after a VAR review.
“We are a young team, we need time to gain experience,” said Pirlo.
In Naples, Hirving Lozano struck twice as Napoli powered back days after they were deducted a point for not travelling to Turin last time.
But Gennaro Gattuso’s side picked up where they left off before the coronavirus row, with a third win in as many league games they have played.
“I’ve heard say that we didn’t want to go (to Turin), it’s not true,” said Gattuso.
“I’m more angry than anyone that we weren’t allowed to go.”
Napoli maintained they had to remain in isolation on local health authority instructions.
“Juventus are a team under construction,” continued Gattuso. “I had the feeling that we could play that match like we did today.”
– Osimhen takes a stand – Slovenia forward Josip Ilicic returned for highly-fancied Atalanta after nearly three months out with personal problems.
But Mexican forward Lozano scored two quick-fire goals in the first half, his second so far this season.
Matteo Politano blasted in a third after half an hour with Victor Osimhen scoring his first Napoli goal just before the break after another defensive blunder.
Osimhen held up a t-shirt after his debut goal on which was written “End Police Brutality in Nigeria” as protests against law enforcement violence continue in his home country.
Substitute Sam Lammers pulled a goal back with 20 minutes to go, but Atalanta drop into second place.
“This defeat as a wake-up call,” said Gasperini ahead of starting their Champions League against Danish club Midtjylland on Wednesday.
Lazio, without suspended striker Ciro Immobile, fell to a 3-0 defeat at Sampdoria.
Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who recently tested positive for the novel coronavirus, has been hospitalised “as a precaution”, a statement from his entourage said Friday.
It said the media tycoon was taken to San Raffaele hospital in Milan on Thursday night after suffering “certain symptoms”, but there was “no cause for concern.”
The AGI news agency said Berlusconi, who turns 84 at the end of this month, was hospitalised in a room that he often occupies when he stays at the facility. AGI said this indicates that his condition is not serious, or he would be in intensive care.
Licia Ronzulli, a senator with Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, said the former prime minister “spent the night in the ital to check on his condition… but he is fine.”
Berlusconi announced Wednesday that he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus and was in quarantine at home.
Two of his children – daughter Barbara, 36, and son Luigi, 31 – have also contracted the virus, as has his companion Marta Fascina.
Berlusconi, who once owned AC Milan, had insisted on Wednesday that he would continue his political activities.
“I will be present in the electoral campaign with interviews on televisions and in newspapers,” he said during a video-conference of Forza Italia’s women’s movement.
He recognised “the limitations imposed on my activities by testing positive for the coronavirus… but I will continue the battle.”
Regional elections are due to take place in two weeks as well as a referendum on reducing the number of Italian parliamentarians.
Veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has signed a one-year contract extension with AC Milan, the Italian giants announced on Monday.
The former Swedish international, who turns 39 in October, rejoined Milan in January and will stay at the San Siro until the end of June 2021.
“Today (Monday), Zlatan Ibrahimovic rejoined his teammates and coach Stefano Pioli at Milanello Sports Center, where he took part in his first training session of the season,” the club said in a statement.
According to Italian media reports, Ibrahimovic has agreed to a seven-million-euro ($8.35-million) annual salary with Milan.
He helped Pioli’s side bounce back from a poor first half of last season, scoring 11 goals in 20 games in all competitions to help fire the seven-time European champions to Europa League qualification.
Ibrahimovic said at the weekend that he “wanted to help the club return to where they belong”.
“For six months, we have done great things but we have not won anything. We must continue and do the same,” he said in a video.
The 38-year-old previously played for the Rossoneri from 2010-2012, scoring 56 goals and winning the 2011 Serie A title under Massimiliano Allegri.
It had been widely expected that ‘Ibra’ would sign a new deal and he will take the number 11 shirt, having played as Milan’s number 21 last term.
He had returned from American MLS outfit Los Angeles Galaxy on a six-month contract with an optional extra year.
Milan finished last season with a 12-match unbeaten streak in Serie A to grab a sixth-place finish, although they still fell short of returning to the Champions League for the first time since 2014.
Ibrahimovic has also played for Juventus and Inter Milan in Italy during his illustrious career and starred for Paris Saint-Germain in France and Manchester United in the Premier League.
He won four Ligue 1 titles with PSG during a four-year spell in which he became the club’s record goalscorer, a mantle since taken by Edinson Cavani.
‘Ibra’ has also lifted the La Liga trophy with Barcelona in 2010, three league titles with Inter and two Eredivisie crowns while at Ajax.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic will remain at AC Milan next season having reached agreement on a new deal reportedly worth 7 million euros ($8.3m) without bonuses, according to multiple reports in Italy on Friday.
Ibrahimovic, who turns 39 years in October, on Friday posted a photo of himself on social media wearing an AC Milan jersey with the number 11 written over the 21, and his arms wide: “As I said, I’m just warming up.”
The Swedish forward also posted a photo showing him lying relaxing with the caption “The quiet before the storm.”
Gazzetta Dello Sport reported that Ibrahimovic was expected back in Milan ahead of the new season on August 29, the same day he first joined the club back in 2010.
Ibrahimovic rejoined Milan in January on a six-month contract after leaving Los Angeles Galaxy, on a deal worth 3.5 million euros ($3.9 million) with the option for an additional season.
The former Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona player had a big impact, scoring 11 goals in 20 games.
“I think that we can all see that Ibra has played an important part in our season and our growth,” AC Milan CEO Ivan Gazidis said this week.
“We are doing everything we can to see that this can continue.”
The former seven-time European champions moved up from 11th on his arrival to sixth, finishing the league season on a 12-game unbeaten run.
Ibrahimovic helped AC Milan to the last of their 18 Serie A titles in 2011.
He also won three league titles with Inter Milan and two with Juventus which were both revoked because of the ‘Calciopoli’ match-fixing scandal.
The Italian season kicks off again on September 19.
Brazil great Ronaldinho could be freed on August 24 following five months detention in Paraguay over a forged passport, judicial sources told AFP on Monday.
The former Barcelona, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain star was detained alongside his brother Roberto de Assis Moreira on March 6, accused of entering Paraguay in possession of false passports.
They spent a month behind bars before paying a $1.6 million bail and being released to house arrest at the plush Palmaroga Hotel in the historic centre of the Paraguayan capital Asuncion.
Judge Gustavo Amarilla has set a date of August 24 to hear the case against the brothers.
Prosecutors have submitted a proposal to the judge that would see Ronaldinho, 40, pay a $90,000 fine “to repair social damage” but be allowed to return home to Brazil where he would have to appear before a judge every three months for a year.
Ronaldinho denies having any knowledge the passports were fake.
His brother — who allegedly knew about the false passports — would have to pay a $110,000 fine and appear before a judge every three months for two years.
Prosecutors also asked for a two-year suspended prison sentence for Roberto de Assis Moreira, who is also Ronaldinho’s business manager.
The brothers arrived in Paraguay on March 4 without any issues, with Ronaldinho, 2005 Ballon d’Or winner, due to take part in the event in support of disadvantaged children.
However, shortly after their arrival, the pair were taken into police custody when investigators raided their hotel following the discovery they had fake documents.
The investigation has since expanded into a case of possible money laundering.
Ronaldinho, considered one of the greatest footballers of all time, was crucial in Brazil’s 2002 World Cup win.