Inter gains as Milan, Napoli falter in Serie A title race
MILAN (AP) — Inter Milan took a big step toward defending its Serie A title without even playing on Sunday.
Serie A leader AC Milan was again let down by its poor finishing in a 0-0 draw at Torino, while Napoli lost 3-2 at home to Fiorentina.
Milan remained top of the Italian league but just two points ahead of Inter, which beat Hellas Verona 2-0 on Saturday and has played a match less than its title rivals. Napoli was also two points behind Milan.
It was a second straight 0-0 draw for Milan. The Rossoneri have only scored four goals in their last seven matches in all competitions, from more than 100 attempts.
“We didn’t create many goalscoring opportunities but we played well, unfortunately we’re lacking that final spark,” Milan coach Stefano Pioli said. “We fought for every ball but it’s a period where it’s just not going in.
“We’ve been deemed favorites for two or three weeks but unfortunately slip-ups happen. Sometimes we’re said to be favorite, sometimes Inter and sometimes Napoli, it’s useless to talk about percentages, anything can still happen in the title race.”
Milan’s hopes of finding its scoring boots diminished even before kickoff as Zlatan Ibrahimović, Ante Rebić, Ismaël Bennacer and Samu Castillejo were unable to make the trip through injury.
Pioli will hope to have them back for next week’s match against Genoa.
In Turin, Milan was again let down by some poor finishing. It would have been worse for the Rossoneri but for several fantastic saves from goalkeeper Mike Maignan.
Napoli was looking to move top of the league, temporarily at least, but it was Fiorentina that took a surprise lead in the 29th minute. A cross from Alfred Duncan was not cleared and Nicolás González controlled the ball on his chest before firing into the top corner.
Dries Mertens was brought on in the 56th and leveled with practically his first touch two minutes later, sweeping the ball into the bottom left corner after Victor Osimhen had raced down the left and pulled back from the byline.
Jonathan Ikoné took even less time to have an impact, scoring his debut Serie A goal barely a minute after coming off the bench.
Napoli thought it had equalized again but Hirving Lozano was called offside and instead it was Fiorentina that extended its advantage in the 72nd as Arthur Cabral sprinted down the left and cut inside past Stanislav Lobotka before curling into the far corner.
Osimhen set up a frantic finale when he pulled one back six minutes from time, chesting the ball down between two defenders and then shooting powerfully into the top corner.
HAT TRICK HERO
Ciro Immobile netted a hat trick as Lazio won 4-1 at relegation-threatened Genoa to boost its chances of qualifying for Europe.
Adam Marušić scored Lazio’s opener in the 31st and Immobile doubled the side’s lead on the stroke of halftime before adding two more after the break.
Genoa briefly reduced the deficit with a stroke of luck as a pass ricocheted off Patric and the underside of the bar for an own-goal from the Lazio defender.
Lazio was sixth, two points below its capital rival Roma which beat bottom club Salernitana 2-1. José Mourinho’s team struggled more than expected and needed two late goals to snatch all three points.
Fiorentina is two points behind Lazio and two points above Atalanta, which lost 2-1 at Sassuolo following a double from Hamed Traorè.
Genoa remained three points from safety. It is level on points with Venezia, which lost 2-1 at home to Udinese.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports