Chris Smalling of AS Roma celebrates with teammates after scoring to give the side a 2-1 lead. Alamy Stock Photo
Mixed Fortunes

Former Man United defender Smalling heads Mourinho's Roma to win at struggling Inter

Elsewhere there were wins for Milan and Napoli in Serie A.

CHRIS SMALLING headed Roma to a 2-1 win at Inter Milan on Saturday which kept them in touch with Serie A leaders Napoli following their 3-1 win over Torino.

England defender Smalling perfectly met Lorenzo Pellegrini’s free-kick with 15 minutes remaining to complete Roma’s comeback from going behind to Federico Dimarco’s fine first-half strike.

Jose Mourinho’s side, who levelled through Paulo Dybala six minutes before half-time, are four points behind Napoli in fourth place after a win which also leaves Inter further back in the title race.

Simone Inzaghi’s seventh-placed team are eight points off the pace after losing for the fourth time in their eight matches, hardly the best preparation for the crucial Champions League visit of Barcelona on Tuesday.

Inter started strongly and were effectively camped in Roma’s half for most of the first half, the away side not able to do anything more than sit back and try to hold off waves of attack.

The hosts thought they had taken the lead with 10 minutes gone, Edin Dzeko punishing dreadful defending from his former team by spinning and hitting a low shot past Rui Patricio.

However the Bosnian had strayed offside in the build up and Inter had to wait until the half-hour mark for the goal their play deserved.

Inter academy product Dimarco followed up on his goal against Hungary which helped put Italy in the Nations League final four by sweeping home Nicolo Barella’s nicely-weighted pass.

The hosts looked heavy favourites for the three points but the goal woke Roma, who were level nine minutes later.

Starting up front in place of Tammy Abraham, Dybala had just been denied by a Samir Handanovic double save which also kept out Leonardo Spinazzola when he thrashed in his brilliant leveller from the Italy left-back’s deep cross.

The Argentina forward was replaced by Abraham just before the hour and Inter responded, Hakan Calhanoglu hitting a free-kick off the bar before Kristjan Asllani, stepping in for Marcelo Brozovic, flashed a curling effort just wide.

However Roma settled and Smalling tipped the result in the away side’s favour with his second of the season to give Mourinho a precious win against his old club.

 - Napoli out in front -

 Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa scored his maiden Serie A goals in Napoli’s home win over spirited Torino, his brace in the first 12 minutes setting up the hosts for their sixth win on the bounce in all competitions.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s fifth of his first Serie A season eight minutes before half-time will also keep Napoli in first place unless Atalanta beat Fiorentina by five goals on Sunday.

“I’m very happy, I don’t want to lie, it’s the first time for me in Serie A,” Anguissa told DAZN.

“It’s important to score but I just want to do my job. If the goals come I’m happy but the first thing for me is my team, for my team to win.

“So if we can win all the games, even if I don’t score I don’t care. I just want to win.”

Napoli go into next week’s trip to Ajax in high spirits knowing they could take a big step towards the knockout stage of the Champions League.

Luciano Spalletti’s side have also netted 18 times in their eight league fixtures despite having to do without starting centre-forward Victor Osimhen for their last three matches.

Torino, who scored through Antonio Sanabria just before the break, stay ninth after losing their third straight game and are level on 10 points with local rivals Juventus who host Bologna on Sunday.

Ivan Juric’s side have been unlucky to collect no points from their last three fixtures, with their previous two defeats coming late and after decent performances.

 Milan late show -

Two stoppage-time strikes from Fode Ballo-Toure and Rafael Leao snatched a 3-1 win for Milan at Empoli.

Milan, who took the lead through Ante Rebic with 11 minutes remaining, were left reeling when Nedim Bajrami’s pinpoint free-kick levelled the scores in the 92nd minute.

But with Empoli still celebrating what they assumed was a hard-earned point, Ballo-Toure put Milan back ahead when he pushed in Rade Krunic’s knockdown.

And Leao, who set up Rebic’s opener and had been the star performer for Milan, then capped a stunning win by racing through on goal unopposed and classily dinking in the third in the seventh minute of added time.

It was another superb display from Portugal winger Leao, who has scored four goals and set up six more in all competitions this season, an incredible number which makes him the one to watch at Chelsea on Wednesday.

Stefano Pioli will need him on top form as Davide Calabria and Alexis Saelemaekers joined a long injury list which also features Theo Hernandez and Mike Maignan.

Italian Serie A results on Saturday:

Empoli 1 (Bajrami 90+2) AC Milan 3 (Rebic 79, Ballo-Toure 90+4, Leao 90+7)

Inter Milan 1 (Dimarco 30) Roma 2 (Dybala 39, Smalling 75)

Napoli 3 (Anguissa 6, 12, Kvaratskhelia 37) Torino 1 (Sanabria 44)

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel