Rebic Helps AC Milan Secure Late Win Over Udinese

AC Milan’s Croatian forward Ante Rebic (Front L), AC Milan’s Portuguese forward Rafael Leao (Top L) and teammates celebrate after Rebic scored a last-second winning goal during the Italian Serie A football match AC Milan vs Udinese on January 19, 2020 at the San Siro stadium in Milan.
Marco Bertorello / AFP

 

Ante Rebic hit a brace to snatch a late 3-2 win as troubled AC Milan took back-to-back Serie A wins on Sunday against Udinese and close in on the Europa League berths.

Star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic got his first start in the San Siro after scoring last weekend against 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 northern giants who have taken seven points in three matches since his return.

However, Stefano Pioli’s side needed to fight back after conceding a goal after just seven minutes to Udinese who were coming off a run of three consecutive wins.

Goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma left his line allowing Jens Stryger Larsen to finish off into an empty net.

But the hosts upped the pace in the second half with former Eintracht Franckfurt player Rebic coming on after the break to equalise three minutes later.

Theo Hernandez put Milan ahead with a powerful volley on 72 minutes, to take his tally to five league goals this season.

Kevin Lasagna got Udinese back level five minutes from time but Rebic had the final word three minutes into injury time to lift Milan to eighth, one point off the Europa League berths.

Udinese are in the 13th position.

Serie A leaders Juventus host later on Sunday with second-placed Inter Milan travelling south to Lecce to keep the pressure on the champions.

AFP

Juventus Prepare For Atletico Battle With Udinese Warm Up

 

Tensions are running high in Turin as Juventus get ready to take on lowly Udinese in Serie A on Friday just days ahead of their must-win Champions League clash against Atletico Madrid.

Massimiliano Allegri’s unbeaten champions put one hand on an eighth consecutive Serie A title last weekend by seeing off Scudetto rivals Napoli 2-1 to open up a huge 16-point lead in the Italian league.

READ ALSO: Rennes Fight Back To Stun 10-Man Arsenal In Europa League

But the pressure is on the Juventus coach amid reports of a falling out with club chairman Andrea Agnelli after the club’s first-leg 2-0 defeat in Spain two weeks ago.

“We have to win to prepare for the match on Tuesday, regardless of the advantage that we have (in the league),” Allegri told a pre-match press conference on Thursday.

“We still need six victories (to win the title).

“The Madrid match has left us with motivation that has helped us in these 15 days. We will be ready on Tuesday and we will have a great game.”

The Juventus coach confirmed he had also met with Agnelli to discuss his future.

“I met with the chairman yesterday for dinner, we are two intelligent people who have built something important in these five years together,” said Allegri.

“We decided to talk about the renewal of the contract after the season.”

The pressure has also been mounting on Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo to make the difference as the club’s major objective of the season hangs by a thread in Turin next Tuesday.

The top scorer in the Champions League for the last six seasons, Ronaldo was signed for 100 million euros ($112 million) last summer from Real Madrid.

But the 34-year-old Portuguese superstar has scored just one goal in this year’s competition as Juventus target a first European title since 1996.

Ronaldo has also failed to score in his last two league games since the Madrid defeat and has been joined at the top of the Serie A scorers chart by Sampdoria veteran Fabio Quagliarella, 36, who has also scored 19 goals.

Allegri confirmed that Ronaldo is available, but will start from the bench so as to be fully primed for what promises to be an epic struggle against the dogged Madrid outfit.

Defenders Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini will not play on Friday either.

Udinese are 15th in Serie A but have moved away from the drop zone after winning their last two Serie A games against relegation candidates Chievo and Bologna.

The side from northeastern Italy also have a game in hand after their trip to Lazio was postponed.

Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli travel to mid-table Sassuolo on Sunday looking to get back winning after last week’s home defeat to Juventus.

AC Milan, a further eight points behind in third, are targeting a fifth straight league win against bottom club Chievo.

Gennaro Gattuso’s side are a point above city rivals Inter, who lost 2-1 at Cagliari amid a public contract dispute with absent star striker Mauro Icardi.

There are reports of “a thaw” between the Argentina striker, who has been stripped of the captain’s armband, and club bosses after a meeting this week.

Roma, meanwhile, turn their focus back to qualifying for next year’s Champions League after crashing out 4-3 on aggregate after extra time amid VAR controversy at Porto midweek.

Eusebio Di Francesco’s side are fifth, three points behind Inter Milan who occupy the final Champions League berth, after falling 3-0 to city rivals Lazio last weekend.

Last year’s Champions League semi-finalists have a chance to pick themselves up against Empoli, who are three points above the drop zone, on Monday.

“Going out like this hurts,” said Roma captain Daniele Di Rossi. “Our focus is now on preparing for Empoli and then SPAL.”

Fixtures (all times GMT)

Friday

Juventus v Udinese (1930)

Saturday

Parma v Genoa (1700), Chievo v AC Milan (1930)

Sunday

Bologna v Cagliari (1130), Sampdoria v Atalanta, Frosinone v Torino, Inter Milan v SPAL (all 1400), Sassuolo v Napoli (1700), Fiorentina v Lazio (1930)

Monday

AS Roma v Empoli (1930)

AFP

Udinese Sack Coach Del Neri

Luigi Del Neri. Photo:  Andreas SOLARO / AFP

Luigi Del Neri was fired as Udinese coach on Tuesday with the club 14th in Serie A just three points above the drop zone.

The former Juventus and Roma coach is 67 and looks set to be replaced by Massimo Oddo, 41, who was part of Italy’s 2006 World Cup winning squad and who was recently coach of his hometown club Pescara.

“Udinese Calcio can confirm that first-team head coach Luigi Del Neri and assistant Giuseppe Ferazzoli have been relieved of their duties,” the club said on Twitter.

“The club would like to thank Del Neri and Ferazzoli for their dedication over the last 13 months and wishes them all the best for the future.”

Del Neri joined Udinese in October 2016 and led them to 13th place, but with four wins and eight defeats so far he was fired with another relegation battle looming.

Whoever takes over will receive a baptism of fire as Udinese entertains league leaders Napoli on Sunday.

AFP

Ighalo Signs 5-Year Deal With Watford

ighaloSuper Eagles striker, Odion Ighalo, has signed a new five-year deal with English Premier League’s new boys, Watford FC.

This long-term shows how highly Watford value Ighalo, especially after they were one of the busiest clubs on the transfer market in the close season.

He first signed a permanent deal with Watford in October 2014, after he was released by Udinese.

Last season, Ighalo scored 20 goals to help Watford return to the English top-flight league, after many years in the lower league.

‘Grateful For The Deal’

Ighalo has scored in four appearances in the Premier League this season.

The striker expressed his delight at extending his stay with the club, saying he is ‘grateful for the deal’.

“I’m grateful for this deal, and I’m very happy to be here,” he said.

“I’ve worked hard to get here. We’ve been negotiating for a while now, so I’m glad we have come to a conclusion which means I can now continue to focus on playing this season.”

Police rescues Christian Obodo

The kidnapped Nigeria and Udinese midfielder, Christian Obodo was rescued from his abductors Sunday evening by a combined team of police and soldiers.

The former Super Eagles player was whisked away by unknown gunmen in the early hours of Saturday in Efunrun, Delta state. They demanded 150,000 euros (N28 million) ransom for his release.

He was however rescued by a combined force of officers of the Nigerian Police Force and soldiers.

The Commissioner of Police in Delta state, Ikechuchukwu Aduba, confirmed to our correspondent that Obodo was rescued from his abductors in the early hours of Sunday’s evening without paying any ransom.

The footballer, who was kidnapped yesterday morning in Warri, was traced to Isoko, just outside Warri, Delta State.

Report says no ransom was paid and the kidnappers were also said to have been nabbed.

The 28 year old footballer was kidnapped by four unidentified gunmen in front of Zion Ministry Church Effurumin, Warri on Saturday.

According to sources close to the footballer, Obodo was driving alone in his customized SUV, ‘Obodo 5′ when the gunmen in another vehicle double crossed him, dragged him out of his car and sped off with him before anybody could come to his rescue.

His customised plate number reportedly gave him away as his abductors were said to have trailed the footballer after he reportedly went to a club in Warri on Friday night.

 

Italian footballer dies after collapsing on the pitch

Late Piermario Morosini in 2010.

Four weeks after Fabrice Muamba of Bolton survived a cardiac arrest on the pitch during an FA Cup match, a similar scenario has played out in Italian professional league with the death of Livorno’s midfielder, Piermario Morosini.

Piermario Morosini collapsed on the pitch after suffering a cardiac arrest in the 31st minute of a Serie B match against Pescara.

Medics attempted to resuscitate the 25-year-old on the pitch, but a cardiologist at the hospital to which Morosini was taken reported that he was dead upon arrival and never regained consciousness.

The match was abandoned as players left the pitch in tears.

A defibrillator was used on Morosini on the pitch, but the ambulance was held up by a police car blocking its path.

Pescara president Daniele Sebastiani said that Morosini suffered “three cardiac arrests in quick succession.”

Morosini, a former Italian youth national team player, was on loan at Livorno from Serie A side Udinese.

The Serie A club informed Italian football’s governing body that they would not be able to play their scheduled match against Inter on Saturday evening after such a devastating shock and all Italian matches across all divisions scheduled for this weekend were suspended a short time later.