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SIPA USA/PA Images Zlat's that: Ibrahimovic.
# European Football
Ibrahimovic-inspired AC Milan hamper Lazio's title bid, as Valencia's late season disappointment continues
A wrap of the late kick-offs across Europe this evening between Serie A and La Liga.

WHILE JUVENTUS MOVED seven points clear atop Serie A after a historic day for Gianluigi Buffon, nearest challengers Lazio lost to a Zlatan Ibrahimovic-inspired AC Milan.

The 38-year-old Swede scored one goal and assisted another on his first start since the coronavirus lockdown, as Milan won 3-0.

Lazio struggled to find their cutting edge without a recognised striker, as the league’s leading scorer Ciro Immobile and his natural replacement Felipe Caicedo were both suspended.

The away side took the lead midway through the first half when Ibrahimovic teed up Hakan Calhanoglu to score with a long-range deflected effort.

The provider then turned scorer, netting a penalty in the 34th minute to score his fifth goal since rejoining Milan from LA Galaxy in January.

Ibrahimovic was substituted at half-time, but his replacement Ante Rebic put the result beyond doubt in the 59th minute as Lazio’s dream of a first league title in 20 years suffered a potentially fatal blow.

Milan — unbeaten in four games since the resumption, moved above Napoli into sixth — which carries qualification for the Europa League.

Sassuolo moved up to ninth with a 4-2 victory over relegation-threatened Lecce, who stayed 18th and one point adrift of safety after a sixth straight league defeat.

In Spain, Valencia’s disappointing end to the season continued as they conceded an 86th-minute equaliser to draw 2-2 away at Granada in La Liga. 

Three goals in seven second-half minutes sparked a thrilling contest at Los Carmenes and Valencia had the better of them, with Manu Vallejo and Goncalo Guedes overturning Carlos Fernandez’s penalty for Granada. 

But Fede Vico’s late free-kick found its way through a gap in the Valencia wall to salvage a deserved point for Granada, who stay level on points with their opponents after only being promoted last season. 

Valencia are still searching for their first victory since sacking coach Albert Celades on Tuesday. 

spain-la-liga-granada-vs-valencia SIPA USA / PA Images Action from the game. SIPA USA / PA Images / PA Images

Voro Gonzalez, in his sixth spell in temporary charge, oversaw defeat on Wednesday by Athletic Bilbao. 

One win in seven games since La Liga restarted on 11 June have extinguished Valencia’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League but even making the Europa League next season looks increasingly unlikely. 

They sit ninth, five points adrift of Getafe in sixth, having played a game more. Granada are one place below in 10th. 

The home side took the lead in the 61st minute, winning a penalty after Fernandez beat Francis Coquelin to a pull-back to the edge of the area. 

Fernandez scored the penalty but Granada’s lead lasted only two minutes, Vallejo latching on to Denis Cheryshev’s lifted pass through and whipping the ball first time into the corner. 

Five minutes later, Valencia pulled ahead in stunning fashion as Guedes’ rocket from 25 yards flew into the top corner off the hand of Rui Silva. 

But Granada hit back again, Vico’s driven free-kick flying through a gap in the middle of Valencia’s wall with four minutes left. Roberto Soldado could have won it for Granada in injury-time but Jasper Cillessen made the stop.

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Earlier, Celta Vigo’s emergency signing Nolito scored his second goal since returning to the club last month but it was not enough for victory against Real Betis.

Nolito’s free-kick set Celta up for a valuable home victory at Balaidos only for Zouhair Feddal to smash in a Betis equaliser 11 minutes from the end to seal a 1-1 draw.

It represents a missed opportunity for Celta to move further away from the relegation zone but they should still have enough for survival.

They sit 17th, six points ahead of Real Mallorca, with four games left. Betis will be satisfied with a point too as they are now nine points clear of the bottom three. 

Valladolid climbed a point above Betis after they beat Alaves 1-0, Fernandez Moreno grabbing an 88th-minute winner to all-but guarantee their safety.

And in France, Lyon edged Nice in the first match between Ligue 1 teams in four months.

Houssem Aouar scored the friendly match’s only goal from the penalty spot in the fifth minute after Nice goalie Walter Benitez had fouled Moussa Dembele.

© – AFP, 2020

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