‘Living Legend’ Zlatan Ibrahimovic Comes To The Silver Screen

Film posters are pictured prior to the gala premiere of the film ‘I Am Zlatan’, a biopic on the life of Swedish footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic, in Stockholm on March 14, 2022. (Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP)

 

 

Even though he’s still an active player, a new film premiering Friday is attempting to tell the story of Swedish footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic by focusing on the star’s childhood growing up in a poor part of the city of Malmo.

Ibrahimovic, Sweden’s most successful player, still plays for AC Milan at age 40, and is known for his bravado and swagger, standing in contrast to his typically more humble compatriots.

After starting out with Sweden’s Malmo FF in 1999, he has gone on to play for major teams including Ajax, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United.

Pitched as a “true underdog story,” the movie “Jag ar Zlatan” (I am Zlatan), which premieres Friday, is based on the autobiographical book of the same name, but director Jens Sjogren told AFP that he wanted to hone in on the player’s early years.

“When I read the first chapters of the book I thought of my own childhood,” Sjogren said, adding that by focusing on the young Zlatan the movie is likely to appeal to not just those who have followed “Ibra’s” football career.

“Even though Zlatan had a rough childhood at times we have all been children and struggled with different things,” the 45-year-old director said.

For Sjogren it was important for the film to also tell the story from a child’s perspective.

“What’s he’s experiencing, we get to experience, but when there’s things he doesn’t hear or doesn’t understand then we as spectators shouldn’t understand that either,” he said.

 

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 06, 2022 AC Milan’s Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic warms up prior to the Italian Serie A football match between SSC Napoli and Milan AC at the Diego Armando Maradona stadium in Naples.  (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

 

‘Big honour’

The film starts following Zlatan from about aged 12, when he struggled in school. It also shows him moving away from his mother and in with his father before moving on to his first years as a professional player at Malmo and Ajax.

The perhaps somewhat daunting task of portraying a still living icon on screen was given to first-time actors Dominic Bajraktari Andersson, 15, and Granit Rushiti, 22, who are both playing Zlatan at different ages.

“He’s a great footballer, one of the best in the world. He’s a legend, so it’s of course a big honour for us to play him,” Rushiti told AFP.

As a former promising young footballer himself, though he had to retire after an injury, Rushiti said Zlatan had already been an inspiration to him.

“I’ve played football all my life so he’s been a big part of my life and my own football career. So I’ve taken a lot from him,” Rushiti said.

Both Rushiti and his younger co-star are, just like Zlatan himself, from Scania in Sweden’s far south.

“I haven’t always played football, but he’s been a role model in other ways. Like his demeanour and what he’s like as a person. We are roughly from the same area, the same city Malmo. So he’s been a great role model,” Andersson told AFP.

 

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 12, 2022 AC Milan’s Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic controls the ball during the Italian Serie A football match between AC Milan and Empoli at the San Siro stadium in Milan. (Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP)

 

‘Living legend’

When the shooting of the movie was finished the two young actors also had the opportunity to meet Zlatan in Milan.

“Before we started recording the movie I thought that Zlatan was pretty tough, he almost looked scary. But when I met him he was very kind, he was very charming and joked around. He got me to relax and all the nervousness just disappeared,” Andersson said.

“It was like meeting a living legend that you’ve looked up to.”

Friday’s arrival of the film to cinemas is reserved for Zlatan’s home country of Sweden. More countries will follow though in the coming weeks.

While Zlatan’s status as the greatest football player Sweden has ever produced is undisputed in his home country, his star in his hometown of Malmo has faded somewhat.

Just months after a statue of the local hero was erected in Malmo, it became the target of multiple acts of vandalism after Ibrahimovic announced that he was buying a stake in Stockholm-based club Hammarby, Malmo’s rivals.

Seen as a betrayal by fans, the statue has been spray-painted, knocked over and parts of it have been sawn off.

Ibrahimovic Undergoes Knee Surgery But Eyes Start Of New Season

File photo of Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP)

 

Sweden international Zlatan Ibrahimovic has undergone successful surgery on a knee injury which ruled him out of Euro 2020, club side AC Milan confirmed on Friday.

“Ibrahimovic underwent an arthroscopic (procedure) to his left knee in Rome,” AC Milan said in a statement, adding that “the procedure was a success.”

“Zlatan is doing well and will start his rehabilitation immediately.”

The 39-year-old pulled up in Milan’s 3-0 league win over Juventus on May 9.

He is expected to be sidelined for another two months, according to reports in Italy.

READ ALSO: FG Appoints Mikel Obi As Youth Ambassador

Recovery times after this type of procedure are estimated at one month to get back running and a further month to be able to play.

Ibrahimovic could be back on the pitch just in time for the start of the new season on August 21-22.

The forward had returned to his national side last March nearly five years after his international farewell.

AFP

UEFA To Probe Ibrahimovic’s Alleged Betting Company Investment

File photo: AC Milan’s Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic reacts as he opens the scoring during the Italian serie A football match Napoli vs AC Milan on November 22, 2020 at the San Paolo stadium in Naples. ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

 

 

UEFA announced on Monday it investigate Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s alleged involvement in a betting company.

The 39-year-old Sweden forward, who signed a new one-year deal with AC Milan last week, has invested in Malta-based site Bethard according to newspaper Aftonbladet.

“In accordance with Article 31(4) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations, a UEFA Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector has today been appointed to conduct a disciplinary investigation regarding a potential violation of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations by Mr. Zlatan Ibrahimovic for having an alleged financial interest in a betting company,” the body said.

READ ALSO: France To Impose Quarantine On Arrivals From Four Countries

“Further information regarding this matter will be made available in due course,” it added.

Last April, the Swedish publication claimed Ibrahimovic risked punishment for his stake, which contravenes UEFA and FIFA’s rules.

AFP

Ibra Feeling ‘Good’ After Winning Sweden Return, Germany Stage Rights Protest

Sweden’s forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Georgia’s defender Guram Kashia (L) and Georgia’s defender Grigol Chabradze (C) vie for the ball during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualification football match Sweden v Georgia in Solna, near Stockholm on March 25, 2021.

 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic made a winning return to international football with Sweden on Thursday after nearly five years away as Germany came out for human rights in their opening qualifier for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Ibrahimovic set up Viktor Claesson’s 35th-minute winner in the 1-0 win over Georgia at the Friends Arena just outside Stockholm in his 117th appearance for his national team, his first since Euro 2016.

The AC Milan forward had to hold back the tears as he spoke to reporters on Monday about his international comeback, and he was in good spirits after a win that puts Sweden top of Group B.

“It felt good. It felt like it was my first international match. It was a lot of adrenaline,” Ibrahimovic told Sverige Radio.

READ ALSOInjured Pepe Out Of Portugal World Cup Qualifiers

Sweden lead their group two points ahead of Greece and Spain, who played out a surprising 1-1 draw in Granada.

Alvaro Morata opened the scoring with a superb control and finish from Koke’s clipped pass in the 33rd minute.

But the Greeks levelled through their only shot of the entire match, Anastasios Bakasetas’ penalty in the 57th minute after Inigo Martinez fouled Giorgios Masouras.

Sweden’s forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (C) and his teammates celebrate the first goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualification football match Sweden v Georgia in Solna, near Stockholm on March 25, 2021. Janerik HENRIKSSON / TT NEWS AGENCY / AFP

 

“I don’t like the result and we weren’t inspired either… Whenever we got near the Greek penalty area we lacked sharpness and efficacy,” said Spain coach Luis Enrique.

– Germans join ‘rights’ protest -Germany lined up with T-shirts that spelled out “human rights” ahead of their 3-0 Group J win over Iceland amid concerns over alleged human rights abuses in Qatar, the controversial hosts of next year’s finals.

On Monday, Amnesty International said “thousands of migrant workers continue to be exploited and abused” in stadium construction despite labour reforms put in place by Doha since the country was awarded the tournament.

“We have the World Cup coming up and there will be discussions about it… we wanted to show we are not ignoring that,” goalscorer Leon Goretzka told broadcaster RTL.

“We have a large reach — and we can use it to set an example for the values we want to stand for. That was clear.”

Once on the pitch Joachim Loew’s side got off to a rapid start, with Goretzka and Kai Havertz firing the hosts into a two-goal lead inside seven minutes.

Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan continued his fine recent goalscoring form, collecting the ball 10 minutes after the break and drilling home a low shot.

– Italy enjoy comeback -First-half goals from Domenico Berardi and Ciro Immobile were enough for Italy to ease past the Northern Ireland 2-0 in their first World Cup match since their humiliating failure to qualify for the 2018 tournament in Russia.

Berardi scored his fourth goal in five internationals after racing through to meet Alessandro Florenzi’s defence-splitting pass before lashing the opener past Bailey Peacock-Farrell from a tight angle.

Immobile doubled the hosts’ lead in Parma by ending a rapid counter-attack with a near-post shot that squeezed home, and despite an improved second-half performance from the away side Italy easily held on for the win.

They sit second in Group C, level on points with Switzerland who beat Bulgaria 3-1.

James Ward-Prowse and Ollie Watkins scored their first international goals as England thumped San Marino 5-0, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin hitting a brace and stand-in captain Raheem Sterling also netting in a comfortable win.

Robert Lewandowski struck with seven minutes remaining in Budapest to earn Poland a late point in a thrilling 3-3 draw with Hungary.

The visitors had already come back once from two goals down to level when Willi Orban put the hosts ahead again in the 78th minute.

But Bayern striker Lewandowski lashed home his side’s second leveller five minutes later to earn a point.

John McGinn’s stunning overhead kick five minutes from time rescued Scotland from a losing start to their campaign in an entertaining 2-2 draw with Austria.

AFP

Ibrahimovic Makes Surprising Return To Sweden Squad

(FILES) Sweden’s forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic points his finger during the Euro 2016 group E football match between Ireland and Sweden at the Stade de France stadium in Saint-Denis, near Paris. JONATHAN NACKSTRAND / AFP

 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will return to Sweden’s squad after an almost five-year hiatus to play in World Cup qualifiers at the end of March, head coach Janne Andersson said on Tuesday.

The player, known for his not-so-humble ways, also announced his own return, posting a picture of himself on Instagram in the Swedish team kit with the caption “The return of the God”.

The highly-anticipated announcement comes just three months before the European Championship in June-July.

The 39-year-old AC Milan striker retired from the Swedish squad after the 2016 European Championship, with 116 caps and 62 international goals.

Media had speculated about Ibrahimovic’s possible return to the national team, but the Swedish Football Association had refused to comment until Tuesday, when he was announced among the players selected for the qualifiers against Georgia on March 25 and Kosovo on March 28, as well as a friendly against Estonia on March 31.

Ibrahimovic has been nursing a muscle injury lately but hopes to return to the pitch on Thursday when Milan face his former club, Manchester United, in the Europa League round of 16.

– ‘Not done yet’ –

The Swede has made headlines over the years with cheeky hints that he could be returning to the Swedish team.

But things took a more serious turn last autumn when, after being awarded Sweden’s Footballer of the Year award for an astonishing 12th time in late November, he said that he missed playing for the team.

“The one who does not miss it, he has already finished his career. And I have not finished my career,” he told Swedish daily Aftonbladet.

Ibrahimovic and coach Janne Andersson then met for talks.

Andersson told reporters Tuesday: “I think we’ll be a better team with Zlatan, that’s why he was selected.”

And in a statement he developed that thought, saying the towering 1.95m (6foot 4in) forward had been selected “first and foremost because he’s a very good football player, the best we’ve ever had in Sweden.”

“So it’s of course great that he wants to come back. In addition to what he can contribute on the pitch, he has loads of experience and can also share that with other players on the team,” he added.

Without “Ibra”, Sweden reached the 2018 World Cup quarter-finals and qualified directly for Euro 2020, which has been postponed to June-July 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the first round Sweden will face Spain, Poland and Slovakia in Group E. Andersson said he would announce the squad for the Euro in May.

-AFP

Lebron James To Ibrahimovic: ‘I Am The Wrong Guy To Go At’

Four-time NBA champion LeBron James hit back at Swedish soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimovic on February 26, 2021, saying there is no reason why he cannot have just as big an impact off the basketball court as he does on it. Harry How / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

 

Four-time NBA champion LeBron James hit back at Swedish soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimovic on Friday, saying there is no reason why he cannot have just as big an impact off the basketball court as he does on it.

James has been a force for social change in America, focusing much of his attention on police brutality and racial injustice against African Americans.

He was outspoken about the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin last summer, against Donald Trump, and he worked with other NBA stars to try and get Black people out to vote during the recent US election that brought Joe Biden to power.

“I am kind of the wrong guy to go at because I do my homework,” said James after the Los Angeles Lakers 102-93 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.

James was responding to Ibrahimovic’s comments earlier this week that athletes should “stay out” of politics, mentioning James by name and calling him out over his political activism.

“(LeBron) is phenomenal at what he’s doing, but I don’t like when people have some kind of status, they go and do politics at the same time,” Ibrahimovic said.

Speaking in an interview for UEFA for Discovery+ in Sweden, the outspoken striker said it is a “mistake” when athletes step out of their lane.

“I don’t do politics… That is the first mistake people do when they become famous and they become in a certain status. Stay out of it. Just do what you do best because it doesn’t look good,” Ibrahimovic said.

James helped found the More Than a Vote organization which boosted voter turnout in Black areas. The group organized more than 40,000 volunteers to work at the polls during the November federal election.

James says winning championships is one thing but inspiring and empowering people and bringing Americans together is just as rewarding.

“At the end of the day I would never shut up about things that are wrong. I preach about my people and I preach about equality, social injustice, racism, voter suppression. Things that go on in our community,” James said.

“There is no way I would ever just stick to sports. I know how powerful my voice is.”

James said he likes to think he is the start of something much bigger in sports.

“You see young guys speaking about things they feel is unjust,” he said. “For a long time we heard, ‘as athletes you should be thankful to be able to throw a ball, dribble a ball, swing a baseball bat. You shouldn’t be able to speak about anything else.’

“That is not the case anymore. It won’t be the case for a long time.”

AC Milan’s Ibrahimovic Scores 500th Club Goal

AC Milan’s Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores his second goal during the Italian Serie A football match AC Milan vs Crotone on February 7, 2021, at the San Siro stadium in Milan. Miguel MEDINA / AFP

 

AC Milan star Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the 500th club goal of his career on Sunday against Crotone in Serie A.

The 39-year-old Swede scored after half an hour after combining with Rafael Leao against lowly Crotone at the San Siro for his 82nd goal for the club.

Ibrahimovic reached the landmark in 825 games, having made his professional debut for Swedish club Malmo in 1999.

He has played for three Serie A sides, Juventus, Inter and Milan, as well as Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, Barcelona, Ajax and Los Angeles Galaxy.

He later grabbed a second goal in the match against Crotone.

He has now scored 396 league goals, 57 in European competitions and 48 in cup games.

The former Sweden striker returned to Milan in January 2020 and has scored 27 goals in 37 appearances since.

AFP

Zlatan Condemns Racism After Spat With Lukaku

MILAN, ITALY – JANUARY 26: Romelu Lukaku of FC Internazionale clashes with Zlatan Ibrahimovic of AC Milan during the Coppa Italia match between FC Internazionale and AC Milan at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on January 26, 2021 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa – Inter/AFP)

 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic spoke out against racism on Wednesday after a heated exchange with former Manchester United teammate Romelu Lukaku during the Italian Cup quarter-final in which he evoked voodooism.

The AC Milan striker squared up to his Inter Milan counterpart in Tuesday’s match, accusing the Belgian international of using voodoo, according to Italian media reports.

On Wednesday the Swede took to Twitter, writing; “In ZLATAN’s world there is no place for RACISM.

“We are all the same race – we are all equal!! We are all PLAYERS some better then others.”

The heated altercation between the pair began at the half-time whistle in the San Siro.

Ibrahimovic taunted Lukaku and infuriated the Belgian by laughing in his face before the pair went head-to-head.

They continued to trade insults as they headed towards the tunnel with a furious Lukaku being restrained by his teammates.

Both players were booked over the incident and Ibrahimovic was subsequently sent off after picking up a second yellow card 15 minutes into the second half for bringing down Aleksandar Kolarov.

Christian Eriksen scored a last-gasp winner to send Inter into the semi-finals with a 2-1 victory after goals by both Lukaku and Ibrahimovic.

In 2018 Everton’s majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri suggested Lukaku had declined a new contract with the Premier League club after heeding a “voodoo” message.

Lukaku, who in 2017 had joined Manchester United, rejected outright any notion of voodooism influencing his decision to leave Everton.

In an interview with the BBC in January 2018, a representative of the player raised the possibility of taking legal action against Moshiri, pointing out Lukaku was in fact Catholic.

Milan manager Stefano Pioli and Inter boss Antonio Conte played down the row after the match, saying they had not heard the players’ arguing and blamed any tension on the fact the match was a Milan derby.

But Italian daily La Repubblica said the clash was “a poor spectacle that spoilt a great game” while Corriere della Sera said it was a case of “one goal each, (but) a bad scenario for everyone”. Corriere dello Sport called it a “shameful” episode.

Coppa Italia: Lukaku Scores As Ibrahimovic Sees Red In Milan Derby

A photo combination of Romelu Lukaku and Swedish forward, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

 

Christian Eriksen scored a last-gasp winner as Inter Milan advanced to the Italian Cup semi-finals on Tuesday with a 2-1 victory over 10-man AC Milan in a fiery derby clash.

The quarter-final at the San Siro was overshadowed by a row between star strikers Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku, who both scored on the night, with the Swede later sent off in the second half.

Tensions were high with Lukaku missing the chance to put Inter ahead on 20 minutes as Milan goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu, standing in for the suspended Gianluigi Donnarumma, saved with his foot.

And it was Ibrahimovic who grabbed the opener on the half-hour after connecting with Soualiho Meite’s headed cross, firing in low from the right with the ball bouncing in off the far post.

 

AC Milan’s Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (L) argues with Inter Milan’s Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku (R) at the end of the first half of the Italian Cup quarter final football match between Inter Milan and AC Milan on January 26, 2021 at the Meazza stadium in Milan.
MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

 

Former Manchester United teammates Ibrahimovic and Lukaku then clashed angrily before the half-time whistle.

Ibrahimovic taunted Lukaku and infuriated the Belgian by laughing in his face with the pair going head-to-head.

The duo traded insults as they headed towards the tunnel with a furious Lukaku being restrained by his teammates.

READ ALSO: Pinnick Declared Eligible For Membership of FIFA Council

Both players were booked over the incident.

Ibrahimovic got his marching orders when he picked up a second yellow card 15 minutes after the break for bringing down Aleksandar Kolarov.

 

Inter Milan’s players celebrate after Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen (not pictured) scored during the Italian Cup quarter final football match between Inter Milan and AC Milan on January 26, 2021 at the Meazza stadium in Milan. MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

 

“The booking for the dispute with Lukaku certainly influenced Ibrahimovic’s dismissal,” said Milan coach Stefano Pioli.

“He apologised like the great champion he is. But it wasn’t easy with a man less.

“I didn’t hear what they said but they are old enough to take care of themselves. We have to look ahead.”

Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte said he was happy to see Lukaku’s reaction.

“I was pleased to see Romelu like this,” said Conte.

“Ibra has the wickedness of a winner. I think that Romelu, also from this point of view, is growing.

“For us he’s important, and if he gets angry every now and then I’m pleased.”

Italy’s top two teams in the league this season were looking to bounce back after a disappointing weekend of Serie A action.

Leaders AC Milan lost to Atalanta, as Inter missed the chance to move equal on points with the leaders after a goalless draw at Udinese.

Ibrahimovic scored a brace the last time they met in a 2-1 league win in October, with Lukaku also netting for Inter.

Rafael Leao’s foul on Nicolo Barella gave Inter a penalty after 71 minutes with Lukaku stepping up to fire in via the underside of the crossbar.

Eriksen came off the bench with two minutes to go and the out-of-favour Danish midfielder scored the winner deep into stoppage time with a sensational free-kick after a change in referee because of injury.

Inter go through to meet either Juventus or Serie B side SPAL in the two-legged semi-final on February 3 and 10.

AFP

Ibrahimovic Hints At Possible Sweden National Team Return

 

AC Milan’s Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic reacts as he opens the scoring during the Italian serie A football match Napoli vs AC Milan on November 22, 2020 at the San Paolo stadium in Naples.
ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic said on Wednesday that he missed playing for Sweden and hinted that he may be open to a return to the national side for next year’s Euros. 

The 39-year-old, who retired from international football after the World Cup in 2016, opened the door for a return after being awarded Sweden’s Footballer of the Year award for an astonishing 12th time.

“If you ask me I’ll be honest: yes, I miss the national team,” he told Swedish daily Aftonbladet. “It’s no secret.”

“The one who does not miss it, he has already finished his career. And I have not finished my career.”

Ibra, who scored 62 goals in 116 internationals, has been in impressive form for AC Milan since his summer move, heading the Serie A scoring charts with 10 goals already this season.

He was more opaque, however, when asked directly how would he respond if coach Janne Andersson called him.

“Give me time, I have to think about it,” said Ibrahimovic.

Without him, Sweden qualified directly for the Euros where they will face Spain, Poland and Slovakia there. But a poor Nations League campaign which produced one win and five losses, and resulted in relegation from the A Group has rekindled thoughts of an Ibrahimovic return.

In November, he posted an old photo of himself on social media, wearing a Sweden shirt and the captain’s armband with the phrase “Long time no see”.

Andersson appeared less enamoured of the idea when he was also cornered by Aftonbladet.

“I’m pretty annoyed,” said Andersson.

“He told me in 2016 that he wanted to retire and I respected his choice. So now it’s up to him.

“If he wants to be involved in the national team again, to change his mind, he must say it clearly. In this case, it will be up to me to decide.

“I would be lying if I said I was surprised. I’m impressed and struck by how he continues to have that hunger on the pitch, that quality in everything he does.

“He’s a great athlete, by far the best Swedish player of all time. What he does is amazing, I can only congratulate him.”

Ibrahimovic is currently injured after scoring twice in Naples at the weekend but he insists he will not be out of action for long.

“It’s nothing serious,” he said. “Just one or two weeks.”

-AFP

Ibrahimovic Rescues Point For AC Milan As Juve, Inter Also Held

AC Milan’s Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic gestures during the UEFA Europa League first round day three Group H football match between AC Milan and Lille (LOSC) at the Meazza stadium in Milan on November 5, 2020.
MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

 

 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed a penalty before scoring a late equaliser as Serie A leaders AC Milan salvaged a point in a 2-2 Serie A draw against Hellas Verona on Sunday to let rivals Juventus and Inter Milan off the hook after both were held 1-1 in earlier games.

“I’ll let Franck Kessie take the next one, that would be better,” said Ibrahimovic, who has now missed four of the last six penalties he has taken for AC Milan.

Stefano Pioli’s side are top of Serie A with a two-point advantage on second-placed Sassuolo, who were held to a goalless draw against Udinese on Friday.

Champions Juventus drop to fifth, four points behind the leaders after Lazio’s Felipe Caicedo scored five minutes into injury time to cancel out Cristiano Ronaldo’s first-half goal.

Inter Milan and Atalanta also shared the spoils in Bergamo after Aleksey Miranchuk scored on his first Serie A start for the hosts to cancel out Lautaro Martinez’s header.

Milan had the chance to pull four points clear at the top of the table in the final match before the international break.

But the leaders were two goals down in the San Siro after Antonin Barak opened the scoring in the sixth minute and Milan defender Davide Calabria bundled into his own goal quarter of an hour later.

Ibrahimovic had a chance for the equaliser after 66 minutes, after Verona defender Giangiacomo Magnani’s own goal had reduced the deficit for the hosts.

But the 39-year-old embarrassingly fired over the crossbar before redeeming himself deep into injury time by heading in his eighth league goal this season.

“With so many matches you are not always 100 percent,” said the veteran Swedish striker.

“It was important not to lose. Thank goodness there is a break now, so I rest a little.”

Milan avoided a first league defeat after their 24-match unbeaten run was ended with a Europa League loss to Lille during the week.

Napoli move third after a Victor Osimhen header sealed a 1-0 win over Bologna.

Roma are equal on points with Napoli, both one point ahead of Juventus, after a Henrikh Mkhitaryan hat-trick delivered a 3-1 win at Genoa.

 

 

Juventus’ Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo controls the ball during the Italian Serie A football match between Lazio (SSL) and Juventus (JFC) , at the Olympic stadium in Rome on November 8, 2020.
Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

 

– Ronaldo ‘crucial’ for Juve –

Earlier Juventus once again demonstrated how dependent they are on Portuguese star Ronaldo, letting three points slip after he limped off with an ankle injury with 15 minutes to go.

“Ronaldo is a crucial player,” said Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo.

The 35-year-old had scored his sixth goal in four games and had further chances for a second, rattling the post before Pepe Reina tipped a free-kick over the bar.

Caicedo, who came on early in the second half, once again had the final word.

He picked up a Correa cross and swivelled to fire in the equaliser as Juventus drew for the fourth time in seven league games.

Caicedo also scored in the midweek 1-1 Champions League draw at Zenit Saint-Petersburg and the winner in last weekend’s 4-3 victory at Torino.

“We played like Juventus for 93 minutes and 45 seconds, but then we conceded a goal because we eased off,” said defender Leonardo Bonucci who played his 400th game for Juventus.

Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio, embroiled in coronavirus chaos with star striker Ciro Immobile back in isolation after playing last weekend, are ninth, six points off the leaders.

“This team has heart, difficulties are part of our DNA,” said Inzaghi.

The Roman club are being investigated by the Italian football federation for possible Covid violations after UEFA blocked some players from Champions League games at Club Brugge and Zenit after testing positive.

– Inter lack ‘killer instinct’ –

Both Inter and Atalanta missed the chance to close the gap on the leaders days after Champions League defeats to Real Madrid and Liverpool respectively.

Former Lokomotiv Moscow midfielder Miranchuk came off the bench just before the hour and scored 19 minutes later in his first game for the home side.

Romelu Lukaku returned from a thigh strain, playing the final quarter of an hour, but could not find a winner for Inter.

“We’re lacking a bit of the killer instinct to take home games,” said coach Antonio Conte, whose side are seventh just behind Atalanta.

-AFP

‘Still Hungry’: Ibrahimovic Double Pulls AC Milan Top, 10-Man Juve Held At Crotone

Ac Milan Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates after winning the Italian Serie A football match between Inter Milan and AC Milan at the San Siro stadium in Milan on October 17, 2020. (Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP)

 

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.