Inter Held At Roma To Leave Juventus Closer To Serie A Title

 

Inter Milan missed a chance to keep the pressure on Juventus after being held 2-2 at Roma on Sunday, leaving the way clear for the Turin giants to close in on a ninth consecutive Serie A title.

Romelu Lukaku’s penalty two minutes from time rescued a point for Antonio Conte’s Inter, who are second, five points behind Juventus.

Juve can open up an eight-point lead on the top of the table when they host fourth-placed Lazio on Monday.

Stefan De Vrij had got Inter off the mark at the Stadio Olimpico when he headed home an Alexis Sanchez corner after 14 minutes.

But Roma captain Edin Dzeko set up Leonardo Spinazzola for the equalizer in first-half stoppage time and was again involved when Henrikh Mkhitaryan got the second in the 57th minute.

Lukaku came off the bench and scored from the spot late after Spinazzola fouled Victor Moses.

It was a stalemate that does little to help either team and boosts Juventus’ chances of extending their record Serie A run.

“We have to get used to playing these big games with so much pressure, which is something Inter have lost in recent years,” said Conte, whose side have not won Serie A since 2010, when they won the treble under Jose Mourinho.

“I can’t blame my players for anything, today we faced a team in good shape,” he continued.

“Our team is doing excellent things. Beyond the second place, we are into the Champions League.”

Inter cannot be caught by Roma, who are fifth and nine points adrift of the Champions League places, 14 behind Inter with four matches to play.

They are one point ahead of third-placed Atalanta, who have also qualified for Europe’s top competition after Inter’s draw in the Italian capital.

Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso was unhappy with the league’s tight schedule as his side beat Udinese 2-1.

Napoli are two points behind Roma in sixth after Matteo Politano blasted in the winner five minutes into injury time to snatch all three points.

“It was an important victory even if now we’re playing another sport which worries me,” said Gattuso.

“This is not football. Playing every three days and without fans is something different, the players are not robots.”

Gattuso’s side are out of the running for the Champions League next season but are preparing to meet Barcelona in the second leg of their last 16 tie in this year’s edition, with both sides locked at 1-1.

SPAL return to Serie B

At the bottom of the table Brescia, in 19th, won 2-1 to condemn SPAL to a return to Serie B after two seasons in the top flight.

In another relegation dogfight, Genoa beat Lecce 2-1 to move four points clear of the southerners who occupy the final relegation spot.

Genoa are four points behind Torino, who lost 2-0 at Fiorentina.

City rivals Sampdoria are on the brink of securing Serie A survival after staging a thrilling comeback from two goals down to win 3-2 at Parma.

Fabio Quagliarella scored one and set up Federico Bonazzoli for the winner as Claudio Ranieri’s side won a third consecutive match for the first time this season.

Ranieri, who memorably guided outsiders Leicester City to the 2016 English Premier League title, took over last October with the club sitting bottom of the table.

But they have come back strong after the coronavirus lockdown, winning five of their last six games and are 12 points above the drop zone with four games left.

Parma were two goals ahead at half-time thanks to Gervinho and an own goal from Samp goalkeeper Bartosz Bereszynski.

But Julian Chabot pulled one back with his head two minutes after the break before Fabio Quagliarella curled in his 11th of the season with 21 minutes and teed up Federico Bonazzoli for the winner with 12 minutes to go.

Sampdoria move ahead of Parma into 12th position as Roberto D’Aversa’s side, who had been targeting the Europa League places earlier this season, slumped to their sixth defeat in seven games.

Juventus Beat Inter To Go Top After Coronavirus Chaos

 

Aaron Ramsey starred as Juventus beat title rivals Inter Milan 2-0 on Sunday to reclaim top spot in Serie A in a game played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Earlier in the day, Italian sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora called for the league season to be put on hold.

His statement caused chaos at the early game between SPAL and Parma, with confused players sent back to the dressing rooms from the tunnel before eventually taking to the field 75 minutes after the scheduled kick-off.

Juventus’ game against Inter in Turin did go ahead, although in an empty Allianz Stadium, with the defending champions taking a one-point lead over Lazio at the top of the table.

READ ALSO: Madrid’s ‘Worst Game Of Season’ In Betis Defeat, Lets Barca Back In

Juve coach Maurizio Sarri told Sky Sport Italia that he “doesn’t know what is the right thing to do” when it comes to the thorny question of cancelling matches.

“What have to I ask is whether it’s right to take away two hours of enjoyment from those who are stuck indoors or if there really is a serious risk for the players and staff, I just don’t know the answer to those questions,” said the 61-year-old.

On the game itself, he added: “This is an important victory, but there are still 12 games to go, so it’s a long road ahead.

“It’s very positive that we barely allowed a quality side like Inter a single shot on goal.”

Antonio Conte’s third-placed Inter are now nine points adrift, but with a game in hand on Juve and Lazio.

Douglas Costa went closest in a tight first half, but was denied by an excellent save from Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.

The hosts broke the deadlock 10 minutes after the break, as Cristiano Ronaldo got to a low ball first inside the box, with it then falling kindly for Ramsey to sweep a low shot into the net from close range.

It was the Wales midfielder’s fourth goal of the season after joining Juve from Arsenal last year.

The 29-year-old created his side’s second goal 12 minutes later, playing a neat one-two with Paulo Dybala, who wriggled clear of two defenders and fired home.

Inter substitute Christian Eriksen went close to pulling one back when he drilled a shot narrowly over the crossbar.

Things went from bad to worse for the away side when Daniele Padelli, sitting on the substitutes’ bench, was shown a red card for dissent.

‘FIGC should consider stopping Serie A’

The climax of the season remains uncertain, though, after a deadly outbreak of the new coronavirus in Italy which has claimed the lives of over 350 people.

Italians woke up to discover the entire Lombardy region around Milan and other parts of the north in which a quarter of all Italians live — and most big teams play — under lockdown.

Italian Footballers’ Association president Damiano Tommasi tweeted that “stopping football is the most useful thing for our country right now”.

“The teams to cheer are playing in our hospitals, in emergency rooms,” Tommasi wrote.

Spadafora quickly sounded his own support for the idea of suspending the season right away.

“The FIGC (Italian Football Federation) should consider immediately STOPPING Serie A,” Spadafora wrote on Facebook.

Elsewhere on the pitch, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s fourth goal since returning to AC Milan could not prevent the seven-time European champions from slipping to a 2-1 loss at home to struggling Genoa.

Milan remain seventh, three points off a Europa League place.

SPAL edged out Parma 1-0 in the delayed early match to boost their slim survival chances, while Sampdoria moved out of the bottom three by beating Verona 2-1.

Delta, American Airlines Suspend Several Flights Over Coronavirus

FILES) In this file photo taken on February 21, 2013, a Delta Airlines jet takes off from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.  KAREN BLEIER / AFP

 

Delta Airlines and American Airlines are temporarily suspending some flights between US airports and Milan because of the spread of the novel coronavirus in parts of Italy, the two carriers announced.   

Delta is suspending flights between New York’s busy John F. Kennedy International Airport and Milan Malpensa, the largest airport in northern Italy and a major hub for Alitalia, the airline said in a statement Sunday.

Delta’s last New York-to-Milan flight will take off Monday, while the last flight in the opposite direction is scheduled for Tuesday. Service is set to resume on May 1 or 2.

Delta added that flights between Rome and Atlanta were not affected.

American Airlines said late Saturday that it was suspending service between New York and Milan as well as between Miami and Milan until April 25, citing a “reduction in demand.”

Both airlines said passengers will have a choice of rebooking on a later flight or being reimbursed.

US authorities on Saturday asked Americans not to travel to the areas in Italy and South Korea hardest-hit by the virus.

Both Delta and American, as well as the third big US carrier, United Airlines, had previously reduced or suspended service to China, where the epidemic broke out in late December, as well as to several other Asian countries.

As of Sunday at 17h00 GMT, the number of cases of coronavirus in the world stood at 88,257, including 2,996 deaths, in 66 countries and territories, according to a tally compiled by AFP from official sources.

Italy has reported 1,694 cases and 34 deaths. The biggest cluster of cases is in the Lombardy region in the country’s north.

AFP

Two Dead As Train Derails Near Milan

 

Two people were killed and about 30 injured on Thursday when a high-speed train derailed near Milan in northern Italy, Italian media said.

READ ALSO: Three Dead, Scores Hurt, In Turkey Plane Accident

The accident occurred near the town of Lodi, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of Milan. The two people killed were rail workers on the train, the media said.

AFP

Victor Moses Signs For Inter Milan On Loan

 

 

 

Victor Moses has signed for Inter Milan on loan from Chelsea, the Serie A club announced on Thursday, reuniting the Nigeria international with former Blues coach Antonio Conte.

In a statement, Inter said that Moses — who moved to Chelsea in 2012 and has spent long periods on loan since — arrived in Milan on a deal that gives the title chasers an option to buy, although the club did not specify the length of the loan.

By moving to Inter, Moses rejoins coach Conte, who won the Premier League and FA Cup in his two-year spell in London and was a big fan of the 29-year-old wing-back.

“Having the opportunity to work with the coach again is something I’m really happy about,” Moses said to the club website.

“I’ve spoken to him and he’s already explained the club’s project to me. I want to be part of it, I’m happy to be here. I’ll give my all and want to help the team.”

Milan-based Gazzetta Dello Sport reported that Moses has signed a three-and-a-half-year contract worth 2.5 million euros ($2.76 million) a season, with a fee of 12 million euros set should Inter wish to make the deal permanent.

Moses’ arrival is the second deal Inter have struck this transfer window after bringing in England international Ashley Young from Manchester United earlier this month.

Inter are also in the hunt for Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen, with the Gazzetta reporting on Thursday that the prospective sale of Italy international Matteo Politano to Napoli would liberate funds to buy the Dane, whose contract with Spurs runs out in the summer.

Ronaldo Brace Pulls Juventus Clear As Inter Stalled In Lecce

 

Cristiano Ronaldo struck twice as Juventus beat Parma 2-1 to pull four points clear of Inter Milan at the top of the Serie A table on Sunday.

Inter’s title push hit another stumbling block after a 1-1 draw at lowly Lecce while Ante Rebic fired city rivals AC Milan to a last gasp 3-2 win over Udinese.

Ronaldo broke through just before the break, to score in a seventh consecutive league game, and almost set up a second just after for Aaron Ramsey, but the Welsh international rattled the post.

Andreas Cornelius scored with a towering header to get seventh-placed Parma back level ten minutes after the break.

But the visitors hardly had time to celebrate when Ronaldo broke through again after latching onto a Paulo Dybala cross for his 11th goal in seven games to bring his league tally this season to 16.

The eight-time reigning champions have a four-point cushion on Inter, who have won only two of their last six league games, and are now also under threat from Lazio, who are just two points behind with a game in hand after hammering Sampdoria 5-1 on Saturday.

Antonio Conte’s side had looked set to take maximum points from his hometown team, where he started his footballing career in the 1980s, when Alessandro Bastoni headed the away side in front with 18 minutes remaining.

But Marco Mancosu grabbed a precious point for the southerners five minutes after going behind.

“For me there’s always great emotion,” said Conte of his return to Lecce.

“Coming back to the Stadio Via del Mare means going back 30-35 years.

“I spent my childhood as a ball boy here. There will always be this attachment, but I am a professional and I try to do this job better.”

Lecce — just one point above the relegation zone — were coming off a four-match losing streak, but had held Juventus by the same scoreline back in October.

“Congratulations to them, even if conceding this goal leaves a bitter taste in the mouth,” added Conte.

Ibrahimovic boost

Croatian forward Rebic hit a brace, including the stoppage time winner, against Udinese that snatched a dramatic win that gave troubled AC Milan back-to-back league victories and moved them up to eighth, two points from the Europa League spots.

Star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic got his first start at the San Siro after scoring last weekend at Cagliari.

The 38-year-old Swede did not get to celebrate in front of the home crowd but he has provided a confidence-boost for the seven-time European champions, who have taken seven points in three matches since his return.

“The arrival of Ibrahimovic has given us even more depth and conviction, which has helped us,” said coach Stefano Pioli.

Former Liverpool and Chelsea attacker Fabio Borini, who left Milan on Tuesday, scored his first goal on his debut for new club Hellas Verona in a 1-1 draw at Bologna that leaves them a further two points.

In the race for the Champions League, Roma bounced back from back-to-back league defeats with a 3-1 win over struggling Genoa that put them back in the top four, three points in front of fifth-placed Atalanta ahead of their match with SPAL on Monday.

Cengiz Under opened the scoring after just five minutes and the match looked as good as won a minute before the break when a cross from Leonardo Spinazzola — whose move to Inter broke down midweek — bounced in off Genoa’s David Biraschi.

Former Lazio striker Goran Pandev quickly pulled a goal back but Edin Dzeko had the last word with 16 minutes to go, pouncing on a error from goalkeeper Mattia Perin to send Genoa below Brescia into penultimate position.

Mario Balotelli came on late for lowly Brescia and was sent off just seven minutes later in a 2-2 draw against sixth-placed Cagliari.

The Italy forward entered the field in the 74th minute, but received a yellow card for a foul on Fabio Pisacane before picking up a second when he turned to argue with the referee.

Ronaldo Leaves Stadium Before Final Whistle After Being Substituted

Juventus’ Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (L) goes directly to the changing rooms after being substituted during the Italian Serie A football match Juventus vs AC Milan on November 10, 2019 at the Juventus Allianz stadium in Turin. Marco Bertorello / AFP

 

 

Cristiano Ronaldo reportedly left the Allianz Stadium before the final whistle of Juventus’ 1-0 Serie A win over AC Milan on Sunday after being substituted for the second match in a week.

Paulo Dybala replaced Ronaldo on 55 minutes with the Argentina striker going on to score the winning goal 22 minutes later to keep Juventus top in Serie A ahead of Inter Milan.

Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo looked glum as he came off and directed some words at coach Maurizio Sarri before heading to the changing rooms and Sky Sport Italia reported that the 34-year-old had left the stadium three minutes before the match finished.

However Sarri said he did not know whether Ronaldo had left the stadium early.

READ ALSO: Dybala keeps Juventus At Serie A Summit, Lazio And Cagliari Into Top Four

“Disrespectful to his teammates? Like I said, I don’t know,” Sarri said. “If it’s true that he left before the end it is a problem to be resolved with his teammates.”

“I have no problem with Cristiano, he should be thanked because he made himself available despite not being in the best condition,” said Sarri.

“In the last month he has had discomfort in his knee and this is a little problem for him.”

Ronaldo had reacted furiously after been substituted in his team’s 2-1 win against Lokomotiv Moscow midweek which saw Juventus advance to the Champions League last 16.

“The important thing is that he made himself available. If he gets angry when he comes out this is part of the game,” continued the Juventus coach.

“It’s only natural a player is going to be irritated about leaving the pitch, especially when he worked so hard to be there.

“All players who are trying to give their best will have at least five minutes of being annoyed when they are substituted, but a coach would in general be much more worried if he didn’t seem upset.”

Dybala keeps Juventus At Serie A Summit, Lazio And Cagliari Into Top Four

Juventus’ Argentine forward Paulo Dybala celebrates after opening the scoring during the Italian Serie A football match Juventus vs AC Milan on November 10, 2019 at the Juventus Allianz stadium in Turin. Marco Bertorello / AFP

 

 

Paulo Dybala struck the decisive goal in Juventus’ 1-0 win over AC Milan on Sunday after replacing Cristiano Ronaldo as Juventus stayed top of Serie A, while Lazio and Cagliari moved into the Champions League places.

Argentine forward Dybala hit the winner in the 77th minute in the Allianz Stadium having taken the place of Ronaldo 20 minutes earlier.

Defending champions Juventus maintain their one-point lead over Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan who had taken pole position after their 2-1 win over Verona on Saturday.

AC Milan’s seventh defeat in 12 games saw Stefano Pioli’s side drop to 14th position, just four points above the relegation zone.

READ ALSO: Ronaldo Leaves Stadium Before Final Whistle After Being Substituted

However Milan had threatened as the former European giants chased their first win against Juventus in Turin in eight years.

Wojciech Szczesny was kept busy in the Juventus goal, denying fellow Pole Krzysztof Piatek, Lucas Paqueta and Hakan Calhanoglu.

Blaise Matuidi missed Juventus’s best chance before Dybala’s winner when his powerful curling effort flew wide just after the break.

Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo, who had also been taken off during the midweek Champions League win over Lokomotiv Moscow, reportedly left the stadium before the end of the game after being substituted on 55 minutes.

Douglas Costa also came on for Federico Bernardeschi after an hour, with the two substitutions changing the game for the champions.

Gonzalo Higuain fed Dybala, who easily shook off Alessio Romagnoli to beat Donnarumma and claim his third league goal this season.

“Cristiano should be thanked because he made himself available despite not being in optimal conditions,” said Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri.

“In the last month he has had this discomfort in his knee and this a little problem for him.

“It’s only natural a player is going to be irritated to leave the pitch, especially when he worked so hard to be there.”

Returning hero Nainggolan

Behind the leaders, Lazio and Cagliari moved into the top four after goal-packed wins.

Lazio saw off newly-promoted Lecce 4-2, while surprise package Cagliari continued their superb form with a 5-2 rout of Fiorentina.

The two teams are level on 24 points, eight behind Juventus with Lazio ahead of the Sardinians on goal difference.

Lazio’s Argentine forward Joaquin Correa hit a brace either side of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s strike, with Serie A top-scorer Ciro Immobile slotting in a penalty at the Stadio Olimpico.

Cagliari, who battled relegation last season, have been in superb form since Radja Nainggolan returned to the Sardinian outfit after five years away, including a difficult season at Inter Milan last term.

The Belgian contributed three assists and capped a stellar performance with the fifth goal of the game on 65 minutes.

Fiorentina are struggling without Franck Ribery who is serving a three-match ban for pushing an official.

Nainggolan set up Mark Rog for the opener on 17 minutes, with Fabio Pisacane nodding in the second less than ten minutes later.

The 31-year-old was involved again in Giovanni Simeone’s third goal against the Argentinian forward’s parent club, as well as Joao Pedro’s effort 10 minutes after the break, before blasting in his second goal of the campaign from distance.

He was given a standing ovation when substituted in the 78th minute.

“We are doing something extraordinary,” said Nainggolan whose side are unbeaten in 10 games, which include seven victories and three draws.

“Nobody would have said at the beginning of the year that we could play so well,” said the Belgian.

“There is an enthusiasm that hasn’t been seen at Cagliari for years.”

Atalanta lost ground in the league days after their 1-1 draw against Manchester City thanks to a goalless draw at relegation-threatened Sampdoria.

The Bergamo side are winless in three league games and played the last 15 minutes in Genoa a man down after Ruslan Malinovskiy was sent off for a second yellow card.

Paulo Fonseca’s injury-depleted Roma also showed signs of fatigue after their Europa League defeat in Germany, falling 2-0 at Parma and dropping down to sixth.

Parma pulled through thanks to a Mattia Sprocati strike on 68 minutes and Andreas Cornelius finding a way through deep into injury time.

‘We’re Not Brad Pitt,’ Gattuso Warns Milan Players

'We're Not Brad Pitt,' Gattuso Warns Milan Players
AC Milan’s Italian coach Gennaro Gattuso gestures during a football match played at the San Siro stadium on January 31, 2018. MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

 

Gennaro Gattuso warned AC Milan not to get carried away by recent wins as they prepare to play Udinese coached his former Italy and Milan teammate Massimo Oddo.

“We’re not Brad Pitt now, we’ve got to continue being as ugly as me and my beard, with bags under the eyes,” said Gattuso ahead of Sunday’s Serie A game.

Gattuso took over late in November and the former European giants have now achieved three consecutive Serie A victories and held Lazio in the Italian Cup semi-final.

“We mustn’t forget what people were saying about us only six weeks ago, otherwise we’ll regress,” he continued.

“I hear talk of a Champions League place, but we’re not even in the Europa League spots now.”

Both Gattuso, 40, and Oddo, 41, spent a lot of their careers at Milan and were on Italy’s 2006 World Cup winning squad.

“I shared so much with Massimo Oddo. He’s an intelligent and funny guy whose success speaks for him,” said Gattuso who also played in Scotland for Rangers.

“He got a few slaps in the face from me for his pranks, as we had very different ideas on how to prepare for a game.”

Milan are looking for a fourth straight win in the league to move up from seventh into the Europa League places.

“We mustn’t get anything wrong, as at the moment only Napoli and Juventus are in better form,” said Gattuso.

Oddo has lifted Udinese from 14th to ninth since taking over two and half months ago and they are on an eight-game unbeaten run.

“Obviously, this is not a normal match for me, but it’s one I will have to deal with,” said Oddo of playing his former team.

“I am pleased to face some old friends and test ourselves in difficult circumstances.

“We have to play as a team against a Milan side that has learned how to act as a unit, so I compliment Rino Gattuso for his fine work.”

“Milan are in good shape, have learned how to become a team and are very dangerous opponents right now. Gattuso is a teammate and friend I shared unforgettable moments with, so I am very happy with the success he is experiencing as a coach.”

AFP

Three Dead, Scores Injured In Italy Train Crash

This handout picture released by the Italian Vigili del Fuoco shows firemen working on the site of a train derailment, on January 25, 2018 near Milan. Three people were killed and 10 seriously injured when a packed regional train derailed near Milan in northern Italy, emergency services said. HO / AFP

 

At least three people were killed and 10 seriously injured when a packed regional train derailed Thursday near Milan in northern Italy, emergency services said.

Hours after the crash, rescuers continued to search for passengers inside the wreckage. One of the carriages was lying across the track, bent almost at a right angle.

About 100 other people sustained light injuries, Cristina Corbetta, an official with the regional emergency services in Milan, told Sky TG24.

She said the incident happened at around 7 am (0600 GMT) near Segrate in Milan’s northeastern suburbs. The cause was not immediately clear.

Many of the passengers were travelling to work in Italy’s economic capital, or were students.

It is the most serious rail accident in Italy since 23 people were killed in a high-speed head-on collision between two passenger trains in July 2016 in the southern Puglia region.

The injured were evacuated on stretchers, with the more seriously hurt receiving first aid in a field near the accident.

Journalists watched from a field about 100 metres away from the site, where three helicopters arrived to rush the injured to hospital while another patrolled the area.

One of the injured could be seen, clothes ripped, covered with a thermal blanket and wearing an oxygen mask being evacuated by helicopter.

The first images released by the fire service showed a passenger trapped in their seat, surrounded by bits of the collapsed ceiling, and part of the wall twisted by the shock.

‘Mummy, Help!’

One woman told the newspaper La Repubblica that her daughter had called her on her phone to say “Mummy, help, the train is derailing” as the accident happened. Since then, the woman said there has been no reply on her daughter’s telephone.

Italian media quoted witnesses as saying the train began to shake heavily as if it was travelling over rocks. Then it braked suddenly and derailed.

Milan prosecutors have opened a probe into the accident, and investigators have begun questioning the driver, Italian media said.

The regional train had left the town of Cremona at 5:32 am and was scheduled to arrive in Milan at 7:24 am.

The train belonged to the Lombardy regional rail company Trenord, which is owned in equal parts by the public company Trenitalia and Ferrovie Nord Milano.

Trenord informed passengers at 8 am of the interruption to services due to a “technical problem”, sparking sharp criticism on social media.

Two Dead, Dozens Injured As Train Derails Near Milan

Two Dead, Dozens Injured As Train Derails Near Milan
This handout picture released by the Italian Vigili del Fuoco shows firemen working on the site of a train derailment, on January 25, 2018, near Milan. HO / AFP

 

At least two people were killed and 10 seriously injured when a packed regional train derailed Thursday near Milan in northern Italy, emergency services said.

About 100 other people sustained light injuries, Cristina Corbetta, an official with the regional emergency services in Milan, told Sky TG24.

She said the incident happened at around 7 am (0600 GMT) near the Milan suburb of Segrate. The cause was not immediately clear.

Two hours after the tragedy, rescuers continued to search the inside of the cars, at least two of which lay on the track, in search of trapped passengers.

A journalist for Sky TG24 at the scene said five or six people were still trapped inside.

Television images showed injured survivors being evacuated, the more serious receiving first aid in a field close by.

Only the cars in the middle of the train derailed.

The regional train was en route from the town of Cremona to the centre of Italy’s economic capital.

It is the most serious rail accident in Italy since 23 people were killed in a high-speed head-on collision between two passenger trains in July 2016 in the southern Puglia region.

AFP

Milan Appoint Gattuso New Manager To Restore Glory Days

Milan Appoint Gattuso New Manager To Restore Glory Days
(FILES) This file photo taken on July 08, 2012 shows former Sion’s player Gennaro Gattuso during a friendly football match between FC Sion and Olympique of Marseille. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

 

Fallen Italian giants AC Milan made combative former player Gennaro Gattuso their new boss on Monday after sacking Vincenzo Montella following a disappointing start to the season.

The seven-time European champions released Montella after a goalless draw against Torino on Sunday left them seventh in Serie A, 18 points behind leaders Napoli.

In 39-year-old Gattuso, the Chinese-owned club have turned to a member of one of their most successful sides, but he has little coaching pedigree.

Milan thanked Montella for his efforts and said in a statement: “Management of the first team is entrusted to Gennaro Gattuso.”

Gattuso made a total of 468 appearances for AC Milan between 1999 and 2012, winning a reputation as a rugged defensive midfielder and earning the nickname “Rino”, on account of his verbal raging and rampaging playing style.

He won the Serie A title twice and helped Milan to Champions League glory on two occasions.

Gattuso was such an integral part of Marcello Lippi’s line-up when Italy clinched the 2006 World Cup in Germany that he was named in FIFA’s team of the tournament.

AC Milan have not finished higher than sixth in any of the last four seasons in Serie A but new Chinese owner Li Yonghong funded a 230-million-euro ($270 million) signing spree in the summer.

Leonardo Bonucci arrived from Juventus for 38 million euros in an eye-catching move, while Portuguese player Andre Silva came for a similar sum from FC Porto and Hakan Calhanoglu was signed from Bayer Leverkusen.

But even with those reinforcements, Montella failed to put the club that was once the jewel in former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s business empire in contention for a Champions League place. He leaves after 17 months at the San Siro.

– Slapped Ibrahimovic –

There will be heavy pressure on Gattuso, who has always had a controversial edge — he once slapped the then Ajax striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic with the back of his hand.

On another occasion that his temper spilled over, he infamously grabbed Tottenham assistant coach Joe Jordan — greying and 26 years Gattuso’s senior — by the throat before head-butting him, picking up a heavy UEFA ban.

Gattuso spent a season at Walter Smith’s Rangers before joining AC Milan and won the Scottish double alongside English midfielder Paul Gascoigne.

Since retiring as a player he has been working within the AC Milan structure as youth team coach after a stuttering coaching career elsewhere, with short stints at Sion in Switzerland, at Palermo and Pisa in Italy and at Greek minnows OFI Crete.

With Juventus now the main force in Italian football and Barcelona and Real Madrid dominating Europe in recent years, Gattuso faces a huge task to restore Milan to their former heights.

He was a key cog in the team featuring Paolo Maldini, Andrea Pirlo and Filippo Inzaghi which won the 2003 Champions League by beating Juventus on penalties.

He was on the losing side in the dramatic 2005 final in Istanbul when AC Milan blew a 3-0 lead to draw 3-3 with Liverpool and then lost in the penalty shootout, but he got his revenge two years later when Milan beat Liverpool in Athens.

He made 72 international appearances for Italy.

Milan also face a fight to convince UEFA that they comply with financial fairplay regulations designed to prevent clubs from overspending.

In order to meet the criteria, Milan are gambling on making a sharp increase in profits in China. For that, they need to qualify for the Champions League.

AFP