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.

Cristiano Ronaldo Flies Back To Italy After Positive Test

Portugal’s forward Cristiano Ronaldo (R) jokes with France’s forward Kylian Mbappe during the Nations League football match between France and Portugal, on October 11, 2020 at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, outside Paris. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

 

Cristiano Ronaldo, who has tested positive for COVID-19, left the Portuguese team camp near Lisbon on Wednesday to fly back to Northern Italy on his private jet, local media reported. 

The Juventus player’s jet took off in the afternoon from the Tires airfield, in the outskirts of Lisbon, according to images broadcast by CMTV.

The Portuguese Football Federation announced on Tuesday that Ronaldo tested positive for coronavirus on Monday, the day after Portugal drew 0-0 with France in Paris and would not be in the squad for Wednesday’s UEFA Nations League match against Sweden in Lisbon.

The 35-year-old five-time Ballon d’Or winner was “asymptomatic” and had been placed in isolation after the positive test at the national team’s training centre in Oeiras, a suburb of Lisbon.

Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini said on Tuesday that he had spoken to Ronaldo.

“He’s fine and was sunbathing, he’ll be back when he’s ready,” Chiellini  said

Last week, before the trip to France, two other Portuguese players tested positive, Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes and Lille defender Jose Fonte.

Ronaldo is the latest star footballer to test positive for coronavirus following Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

 

 

-AFP

Zlatan Ibrahimovic Tests Positive For COVID-19

File photo: AC Milan’s Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates scoring his team’s fourth goal during the Italian Cup ((Coppa Italia) round of 8 football match between AC Milan and Torino on January 28, 2020 at the san Siro stadium in Milan.
MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

 

AC Milan star Zlatan Ibrahimovic has tested positive for coronavirus, the Italian club disclosed on Thursday.

“AC Milan announces that Zlatan Ibrahimovic has tested positive for the swab performed for today’s match, Milan-Bodo/Glimt,” the Serie A side said.

“We have informed the competent health authorities and the player was promptly placed in-home quarantine.

“All the other swabs carried out on the team group were negative.

AFP

‘I’m Just Warming Up’ – Ibrahimovic Dismisses Retirement Talk

AC Milan’s forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic from Sweden looks on during the warm up before the Italian Serie A football match AC Milan vs Bologna played behind closed doors on July 18, 2020 at the San Siro Stadium in Milan, as the country eases its lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP)

 

 

AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has ruled out  hanging up his boots after this season, insisting Saturday he is “just warming up”.

“So you think that I’m done, that my career will soon be over? You don’t know me,” the 38-year-old said in a dramatic video posted on Instagram.

“All my life I had to fight. No-one believed in me, so I had to believe in myself.

“Some people wanted to break me, but they only made me stronger. Others wanted to exploit me, they only made me smarter.

“But now you think I’m done? To all of you, I only have one thing to say. I’m not like you because I’m not you.

“I am Zlatan Ibrahimovic and I am just warming up.”

Ibrahimovic rejoined Milan in January from Los Angeles Galaxy on a six-month contract worth 3.5 million euros ($3.9 million) with the option for an additional season.

The Swede helped the former Italian giants to their last Serie A title in 2011, and has had a big impact since his return with the club moving up from 11th to sixth in the table.

The former Manchester United, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain striker has scored seven goals in 16 league games with two left to play.

Ibrahimovic’s announcement comes days after coach Stefano Pioli, with whom the Swede is on good terms, signed a new two-year deal.

Pioli praised Ibrahimovic for the club’s return to form as they extended their unbeaten run to ten games with a 1-1 draw against second-placed Atalanta on Friday.

“The contribution that Ibrahimovic has given to the growth of the team is evident,” said Pioli.

“I hope to be able to work with him again but there are many things that must be put on the table.

“There’s no doubt that he is still well and can still be a driving force and can carry on, but it depends on many different things.”

 

 

-AFP

‘I’m President, Coach And Player,’ Says Ibrahimovic After Inspiring Milan

AC Milan's Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (L) reacts next to Juventus' Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (C) after scoring a penalty during the Italian Serie A football match AC Milan vs Juventus played behind closed doors on July 7, 2020 at the San Siro stadium in Milan, as the country eases its lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. Miguel MEDINA / AFP
AC Milan’s Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (L) reacts next to Juventus’ Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (C) after scoring a penalty during the Italian Serie A football match AC Milan vs Juventus played behind closed doors on July 7, 2020 at the San Siro stadium in Milan, as the country eases its lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. Miguel MEDINA / AFP

 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic ignited a late comeback against Serie A leaders Juventus and then declared that if he had been at AC Milan from the start of the season, they would be Italian champions.

With Milan two goals down on Tuesday, Ibrahimovic converted a 62nd minute penalty for his sixth goal this season. Four minutes later he set up Franck Kessie for the equaliser then immediately headed for the bench where he spent the rest of the match giving advice to team-mates as Milan scored twice more for a 4-2 victory.

Rafael Leao hit Milan’s third goal in five minutes as Ibrahimovic reached the bench and Ante Rebic added the fourth in the 80th minute behind closed doors at the San Siro.

“I’m president, coach and player but I’m only paid as a footballer,” Ibrahimovic, who rejoined Milan from LA Galaxy on a six-month contract at the end of December, told broadcaster DAZN after the game. “If I had been here from the start we’d have won the Scudetto.”

“I’m old, it’s no secret, but it’s just a number,” said the 38-year-old Swede. “I played more today than the last game. I feel good, to be honest, and I am trying to help the team in every way.”

Speculation surrounds the future of Milan coach Stefano Pioli and Ibrahimovic was coy on whether he would be back next season.

“There’s still a month to go and let’s see, there are things here that we’re not in control. Playing without fans is a shame, a strange situation,” Ibrahimovic said. “It could have been the last time you see me live at San Siro.

“I like playing in this Milan team, I do what I can do intelligently, I arrive and then if I don’t make a difference I don’t like it. I want to help my team-mates and the fans.”

The defeat meant Juventus wasted the chance to move 10 points clear at the top of Serie A after second-placed Lazio’s shock defeat at Lecce, but Cristiano Ronaldo’s side sit seven points clear with seven matches remaining and remain on track for a ninth straight title.

Maurizio Sarri’s men had led through goals from Adrien Rabiot and Ronaldo early in the second half.

“I think our first 60 minutes were world-class,” Sarri told DAZN. “We were in total control and had this blackout. There’s not even much use thinking too much about it, because we have another game in three days.

“It’s usually not even possible to find the reasons for these inexplicable blackouts.

“The defence was fine up until the 62nd minute, as we didn’t allow Milan a single chance before then. The blackout hit everyone. You can change all 11 players at that moment and it won’t make a difference.”

The loss snapped the Turin giants’ seven-game winning run in the league.

Milan boosted their hopes of European qualification by moving above Roma and Napoli into fifth and Pioli said he was focused only on the remaining games.

“I am not remotely thinking about August 3 or the future. I am thinking of the next game,” the coach said. “There have been some tough moments, but I love what I do.”

AFP

Ibrahimovic-inspired AC Milan Rally To Defeat Juventus In Stunning Comeback

AC Milan's Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (L) reacts next to Juventus' Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (C) after scoring a penalty during the Italian Serie A football match AC Milan vs Juventus played behind closed doors on July 7, 2020 at the San Siro stadium in Milan, as the country eases its lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. Miguel MEDINA / AFP
AC Milan’s Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (L) reacts next to Juventus’ Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (C) after scoring a penalty during the Italian Serie A football match AC Milan vs Juventus played behind closed doors on July 7, 2020 at the San Siro stadium in Milan. Miguel MEDINA / AFP

 

Juventus wasted the chance to move 10 points clear at the top of Serie A as the defending champions blew a two-goal lead to lose 4-2 at a Zlatan Ibrahimovic-inspired AC Milan on Tuesday, after second-placed Lazio’s shock defeat at Lecce.

Maurizio Sarri’s men led through goals from Adrien Rabiot and Cristiano Ronaldo early in the second half, but were then blown away by a brilliant Milan display as Ibrahimovic scored and had an assist.

Milan coach Stefano Pioli, who could reportedly be sacked at the end of the season, saw his side boost their hopes of European qualification by moving above Roma and Napoli into fifth.

“I am not remotely thinking about August 3 or the future. I am thinking of the next game,” Pioli told DAZN. “There have been some tough moments, but I love what I do.”

Juve remain on track for a ninth straight title, sitting seven points clear of Lazio with seven matches remaining, but could have rendered the race all but over with a victory.

The loss snapped the Turin giants’ seven-game winning run in the league.

Juventus dominated the first half without finding a breakthrough as the closest they came was when Leonardo Bonucci glanced Miralem Pjanic’s free-kick wide when unmarked only three yards from goal.

Ibrahimovic had a couple of speculative efforts easily held by Wojciech Szczesny at the other end and also saw a goal ruled out for offside.

The reigning champions burst into life after the interval though, as French international Adrien Rabiot drove forward and fired a fine left-footed shot from the edge of the area into the top corner to score his first Serie A goal.

Ronaldo doubled the advantage less than eight minutes into the second half, netting for the fifth consecutive game and for the 26th time in Serie A this term with a cool finish.

But Milan were handed a lifeline out of nowhere on the hour mark as Bonucci was penalised for handball, and Ibrahimovic stepped up to score his sixth goal since returning to the San Siro from LA Galaxy in January.

The 38-year-old made it back-to-back games with a goal and an assist in the 66th minute, teeing up Franck Kessie to score with a deflected strike.

Incredibly, Milan completed the turnaround with their third goal in five minutes as Rafael Leao beat Szczesny at his near post.

Ante Rebic had an excellent chance to make it 4-2 with 12 minutes remaining, but Szczesny did well to save with his boot,

The Croatian international wrapped up the points two minutes later though with his 10th league goal of the season.

Lazio stumble again

Earlier, Lazio, who lost 3-0 to Milan at the weekend, slumped to a second straight loss, beaten 2-1 at relegation-threatened Lecce.

Defender Patric added to Lazio’s problems in injury time as he was dismissed for biting Lecce’s Giulio Donati and could face a lengthy ban, especially with the strict COVID-19 regulations in place.

“Our dream must continue, which is to qualify mathematically for the Champions League,” Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi told Sky Sport Italia.

“We hope to achieve it as soon as possible, but that is our only objective.”

Lecce ended a six-match losing streak in dramatic fashion to climb out of the relegation zone.

Lazio were without strikers Ciro Immobile and Felipe Caicedo through suspension against Milan, but both played a part as the latter gave the visitors a fifth minute lead, shortly after Lecce midfielder Marco Mancosu’s strike was ruled out by VAR for a handball in the build-up.

But the hosts grabbed a deserved equaliser on the half-hour mark when Senegalese forward Khouma Babacar nodded home Filippo Falco’s cross.

Lazio survived a massive scare on the stroke of half-time as Lecce were awarded a penalty for a controversial handball against Patric, but Mancosu spooned his spot-kick over the crossbar.

Lecce centre-back Fabio Lucioni headed in a corner to give the home team a shock lead early in the second half.

Patric’s moment of madness came in the third minute of added time when he bit Donati on the arm.

 

AFP