European roundup: Milan capitalise on Inter’s slip up while Atlético win again

  • Bennacer’s brilliant goal sinks Cagliari; Inter held; Napoli win
  • Atlético make it five wins in a row; Bayern rout Union Berlin

A brilliant strike from Ismaël Bennacer earned Milan a 1-0 victory at Cagliari on as Stefano Pioli’s side maintained their three-point lead at the top of Serie A.

Second-placed Napoli’s comeback victory over Udinese earlier on Saturday put the pressure on Milan to respond, and they endured a frustrating first half in Sardinia, wasting several chances to break the deadlock. It took the visitors until the 59th minute to find what proved to be the winner, and it was worth the wait as Olivier Giroud laid the ball off for the Algeria international Bennacer to volley into the net from the edge of the penalty area.

Milan, who are chasing their first Serie A title since 2011, survived a major scare late on as Leonardo Pavoletti’s last-gasp header came off the crossbar.

“We aren’t used to just managing matches,” Pioli told Sky Sport Italia. “We are usually scoring more goals but the team did well today even when they had to grit their teeth. We are doing very well but we know that there are four teams that can win the Scudetto. Now comes the [international] break and we will have to work well to be ready for the return to action.”

Internazionale dropped more points when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Fiorentina at San Siro. The game was goalless at half-time, with Inter’s Samir Handanovic called into action to stop long-range efforts. Fiorentina’s Pietro Terracciano denied Edin Dzeko from close range before Lautaro Martínez’s strike was disallowed for offside.

The visitors’ sustained pressure paid off early in the second half when Gaetano Castrovilli cut open Inter’s defence. His pass found Nicolás González, in the penalty area, and the forward’s quick cutback was fired in by Lucas Torreira.

Simone Inzaghi’s side levelled within five minutes, with Ivan Perisic floating a cross into the box for fellow wing-back Denzel Dumfries to head home. Fiorentina almost grabbed a late winner, Handanovic denying Jonathan Ikone on the break – but the draw means Inter have won only one of their last seven league games.

Napoli are three points clear of Inter in second place after fighting back to beat Udinese 2-1 at home. Luciano Spalletti’s side fell behind in the 22nd minute after Gerard Deulofeu arrowed a strike into the net, but Victor Osimhen headed Napoli level seven minutes after the restart, then added the second with a near-post finish.

A second double in a week for the Nigerian striker was enough to secure back-to-back wins for Napoli, while Pablo Marí’s late red card ended the visitors’ hope of finding an equaliser.

A fine finish from midfielder Koke was enough to earn Atlético Madrid a 1-0 win at Rayo Vallecano to keep their faint La Liga title hopes alive.

Antoine Griezmann wasted several chances to break the deadlock for the visitors in the first half, with the Frenchman’s finishing deserting him on numerous occasions.

The only goal came four minutes into the second period when a perfect pass from João Félix picked out Koke, who swept the ball into the bottom corner with precision. Griezmann then missed another glorious opportunity, before Jan Oblak kept out the home side’s best effort at goal from Mario Suárez.

The only dampener on a fifth successive win in all competitions for Diego Simeone’s side was the dismissal late on of Ángel Correa, who was shown a straight red card for something he appeared to have said to the referee.

In the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich got their title bid back on track with a dominant 4-0 home win over Union Berlin. Robert Lewandowski scored either side of half-time as Bayern moved seven points clear of Borussia Dortmund, who play Cologne on Sunday.

Robert Lewandowski celebrates with his Bayern teammates at full-time.
Robert Lewandowski celebrates with his Bayern teammates at full-time. Photograph: Andreas Gebert/Reuters

Bayern had drawn their last two league fixtures, against Hoffenheim and Leverkusen, but never looked in danger after taking an early lead. With 16 minutes on the clock, Kingsley Coman’s shot from outside the box caught out Union keeper Andreas Luthe.

Centre-back Tanguy Nianzou powered in a header in the 25th minute, before Lewandowski converted a penalty on the stroke of half-time after being brought down by Luthe. The Poland forward struck again two minutes after the restart, converting Jamal Musiala’s cross to take his league tally to 31 goals this season.

Hertha Berlin climbed out of the bottom two and ended a nine-game winless run with a 3-0 victory over Hoffenheim, despite their new head coach, Felix Magath, missing the match due to a Covid-19 infection.

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It was left to Magath’s assistant, Mark Fotheringham, to lead the team and the Scot oversaw a dominant win, with Marvin Plattenhardt’s set pieces creating all three goals. Niklas Stark, Ishak Belfodil and Lucas Tousart all scored as Hertha climbed above Arminia Bielefeld, who were beaten 4-0 at mid-table Mainz.

Stuttgart also boosted their hopes of beating the drop with a 3-2 home win over fellow strugglers Augsburg. The hosts had to come from behind twice but sealed a dramatic victory when Tiago Tomás fired into the roof of the net with five minutes to go. Elsewhere, Freiburg edged back into the top four with a goalless draw at the bottom club, Greuther Fürth.


Reuters and Guardian sport

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