Ibrahimovic double pulls AC Milan top


Zlatan Ibrahimovic struck twice in his first match back 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, reports AFP.

But champions Juventus, playing without quarantined Cristiano Ronaldo, were held 1-1 at promoted Crotone whose first top-flight point this season moved the southerners off the bottom of the table.

“I was so hungry and it showed,” said Ibrahimovic who bagged his second double in as many league matches. “They locked the wrong animal at home for two weeks.

“It’s not easy mentally to always be at home coming off a very high pace, the body is shaking because it wants to work, it wants to play.

“I lost my sense of taste a little bit, but I had a swab every three days and nobody was going to stop me playing the derby.

“This derby was very important, AC Milan hadn’t won for four years.”

The 39-year-old stamped his mark on the game early, having also scored back in February only for Inter to win 4-2. He missed a 13th-minute penalty 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 after half an hour but Antonio Conte’s Inter were struggling with six players out to Covid-19. Milan won their opening four matches for the first time since the 1995-1996 season when they won the title under Fabio Capello.

Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo blamed his new-look team’s inexperience as they finished a second game with ten men. 

The champions were without Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala with new signing Federico Chiesa sent off on his debut.

 “We are a young team, we need time to gain experience,” said Pirlo. In Naples, Hirving Lozano struck twice as Napoli powered back days after they were deducted a point for not travelling to Turin last time.

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