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Dublin: 5°C Friday 14 May 2021

Zlatan scores twice to win Milan derby in first game back after coronavirus recovery

Ibrahimovic also missed a penalty as AC Milan ran out 2-1 winners over Inter.

ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC STRUCK twice in his first match back after recovering 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.

Ibrahimovic had not played since 21 September, but bagged his second brace in as many league matches this season as Milan claimed their first derby win since January 2016.

Milan have now won their opening four Serie A matches for the first time since the 1995-1996 season when they won the title under Fabio Capello.

The 39-year-old Ibrahimovic stamped his mark on the game early, having also scored back in February only for Inter to win 4-2.

He missed a penalty after 13 minutes 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 for Inter Milan after half an hour for his fourth goal in as many matches.

Antonio Conte’s Inter were hit by six absences due to Covid-19 and missed chances, with a Lautaro Martinez header cleared off the line and Lukaku sending a header wide before the break, while Gianluigi Donnarumma denied the Belgian just before the final whistle.

AC Milan are top of the table with maximum 12 points, three ahead of Atalanta who fell to third-placed Napoli. Inter Milan are sixth with seven points from three games.

- Lozano double -

In Naples, Hirving Lozano also struck twice as Napoli powered back days after they were punished for failing to turn up for their last Serie A game against Juventus.

Napoli were handed a 3-0 defeat and one-point deduction for not travelling to Turin earlier this month after recording two cases of coronavirus.

But Gennaro Gattuso’s side picked up where they left off before the controversy, 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.”

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Mexican forward Lozano scored two quick-fire goals in the first half, having also picked up a brace in Napoli’s previous completed match – a 6-0 win over Genoa also at the Stadio San Paolo.

Matteo Politano blasted in a third after half an hour with Victor Osimhen grabbing his first Napoli goal just before the break.

- ‘Wake-up call’ -

Slovenian forward Josip Ilicic returned for highly-fancied Atalanta after nearly three months out with personal problems, starting up front alongside Papu Gomez and Duvan Zapata.

But with many players returning from international duty Gian Piero Gasperini’s side lacked the fire power of their previous three games in which they had scored 13 goals.

France midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko got his first start for Napoli with Lorenzo Insigne injured and Piotr Zielinski and Eljif Elmas still recovering from coronavirus.

Lozano tapped in a Giovanni Di Lorenzo cross after 20 minutes, curling in the second minutes later after a mix-up in the Atalanta defence.

Politano blasted in a third after half an hour with Osimhen scoring his first Napoli goal just before the break after another defensive blunder from Atalanta.

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 with Napoli a point behind them in third.

“This defeat as a wake-up call,” said Gasperini ahead of their Champions League opener against Danish club Midtjylland.

“We had problems from every point of view, we suffered against Napoli.”

Later Saturday, Juventus will be without Cristiano Ronaldo as they head south to Crotone.

© – AFP, 2020 

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