MILAN: Sassuolo took top spot in Serie A yesterday with a 2-0 win over Hellas Verona, as Romelu Lukaku scored twice to help Inter Milan fight back from two goals down to beat Torino. Sassuolo have 18 points from eight games, one point more than AC Milan, who travelled to Napoli later yesterday. Roma move third, level on points with AC Milan, after Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored twice in a 3-0 win over Parma.
Antonio Conte’s Inter had been trailing 2-0 after 62 minutes before battling back to win 4-2 at the San Siro, where they host Real Madrid in the Champions League in three days’ time. “We are not a great team yet because we’re struggling like this,” said Lukaku who has scored seven league goals this season. “In the first hour we played badly, we were in difficulty. Then we woke up and won, that’s the most important thing.” Torino captain Andrea Belotti pulled up with a muscular problem in the warm-up with Simone Zaza taking his place and scoring the opener just before the break. Cristian Ansaldi added a second for the visitors from the penalty spot after an hour. Inter reacted in the 64th minute, with Alexis Sanchez bundling the ball in after Lukaku’s initial effort was tipped onto the crossbar, before the Chilean set up his fellow former Manchester United forward for the equalizer three minutes later.
Lukaku pulled Inter ahead from the penalty spot six minutes from time and then provided the cross for substitute Lautaro Martinez to score the fourth on 90 minutes. “I have to congratulate the lads,” said Conte. “The 2-0 would have killed anyone, but we proved once again that we have something important in terms of character.”
Inter got back to winning ways after two consecutive draws and are fifth in the table. Torino drop into the relegation zone after their fifth defeat of the season, also losing Simone Verdi to injury in the first half. In Verona, Sassuolo continued their impressive run thanks to goals in either half from Jeremie Boga and Domenico Berardi. The side from Emilia Romagna are unbeaten this season and are the top scorers with 20 goals in eight games.
Roma meanwhile stretched their unbeaten run in all competitions to 10 matches, cementing victory with three first-half goals. Borja Mayoral got his first Serie A goal just before the half-hour mark, with Mkhitaryan adding two more before the break to bring his tally to five goals in two games after scoring a hat-trick last time out against Genoa. In Tuscany, Cesare Prandelli had a nightmare start as coach of struggling Fiorentina with a 1-0 home defeat by promoted Benevento. Former Italy coach Prandelli returned to the ‘Viola’ a decade after leaving for the Azzurri job in 2010, after Giuseppe Iachini was sacked, but the team fell to their fourth defeat in eight games.
To add to Prandelli’s woes, French midfielder Franck Ribery went off injured just before half-time with Italian international Giacomo Bonaventura pulling up during the warm-up. “What worries me most is the fragility,” said Prandelli. “At the first difficulty the team lost tactically, technically and personality. “Perhaps the team succumbed to their fears and negative thoughts when Franck came off.” Riccardo Improta scored his first Serie A goal for Benevento on 52 minutes, slotting in a Gabriele Moncini cross after a Cristiano Biraghi defensive error. Fiorentina, without a win in three games, slip to 15th in the Serie A table, just behind Benevento, who move into 14th after ending their four-match losing streak. — AFP