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  5. Serie A: Ibrahimovic turns playmaker in AC Milan win over Roma; Napoli hold Juventus 1-1

Serie A: Ibrahimovic turns playmaker in AC Milan win over Roma; Napoli hold Juventus 1-1

Ibrahimovic uses his chest to set up Rafael Leao for Milan's third goal of the night; Chiesa nutmegs goalkeeper Lobotka for goal in a stunning moment.

India TV Sports Desk Edited by: India TV Sports Desk Rome Published on: January 07, 2022 10:46 IST
AC Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic (far right) celebrates with goal-scorer Rafael Leao after team's third
Image Source : AC MILAN VIA GETTY IMAGES

AC Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic (far right) celebrates with goal-scorer Rafael Leao after team's third goal against AS Roma in Milan on Thursday night.

Two grievous errors from AS Roma players allowed AC Milan a comfortable 3-1 win on Serie A return after winter break at their home San Siro stadium on Thursday night.

First, striker Tammy Abraham stuck out his arm to block a shot that resulted in a penalty for Milan, then defender Roger Ibanez made an errant back pass that was intercepted by Olivier Giroud, which led to the Rossoneri's second goal just 17 minutes in.

Giroud converted the penalty and Junior Messias scored Milan's second on a rebound after Giroud's effort hit the post. Abraham then pulled one back for Roma with a deflection but Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan maintained the Rossoneri's advantage with a series of difficult saves.

Milan also hit the goalframe twice while Roma finished with nine men when Rick Karsdorp and Gianluca Mancini each picked up their second yellow cards; also forcing their suspension for Sunday's game against Juventus.

With Roma at a severe disadvantage, Rafael Leao restored Milan's two-goal advantage after being set up with a chested pass from fellow substitute Zlatan Ibrahimovic to sprint in alone toward the goal.

Ibrahimovic then had a penalty attempt saved by Rui Patrício. Mourinho questioned decisions by referee Daniele Chiffi and VAR official Gianluca Aureliano.

“Our quality level on the pitch was very low,” Mourinho said. “But I don't understand what Chiffi did on the pitch and what Aureliano did as the VAR. Maybe (Aureliano) wanted to be on the pitch whereas he should have stayed where he was, in his office, and drunk a tear or a beer so as not to become the protagonist.”

The match at the San Siro was one of only six of 10 matches that were played following a two-week break, with four games scrapped because of rising coronavirus cases.

Milan moved within one point of Serie A leaderd Inter Milan, whose game at Bologna was among postponed after the hosts were ordered into quarantine. The other games affected were Atalanta vs Torino, Salernitana vs Venezia and Fiorentina vs Udinese.

Thursday's matches were held on a national holiday in Italy, the Epiphany. Another full slate of 10 matches is scheduled for Sunday. Stadium capacities have been reduced from 75% to 50% following a government decree aimed at combatting the latest outbreak, and spectators must now wear FFP2 masks.

Napoli hold Juventus

Virus-depleted Napoli drew 1-1 at Juventus despite missing five players — plus coach Luciano Spalletti — who tested positive for COVID-19.

Dries Mertens opened the scoring for Napoli with a shot through Alex Sandro's legs then Federico Chiesa equalised with a shot through the legs of Stanislav Lobotka.

Third-place Napoli dropped five points behind Milan while Juventus, which had captain Giorgio Chiellini out positive with the coronavirus, remained fifth.

Virus-hit Verona win

Hellas Verona won 2-1 at relegation-threatened Spezia despite missing eight players who had tested positive. Gianluca Caprari scored twice for Verona before Martin Erlic pulled one back for Spezia. The result could cost Spezia coach Thiago Motta his job.

Also, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic scored twice — including a stoppage-time equaliser — for Lazio in a 3-3 draw with Empoli. Ciro Immobile opened the scoring for Lazio with his 14th of the season but also had a late penalty kick saved.Sassuolo earned a 1-1 draw with Genoa as Domenico Berardi responded to Mattia Destro's opener.

Cagliari earned its second win of the season by beating Sampdoria 2-1 with goals from Alessandro Deiola and Leonardo Pavoletti.