MILAN: Zlatan Ibrahimovic made a winning return after being sidelined with the coronavirus as AC Milan beat Inter Milan 2-1 in an entertaining derby match on Saturday.
Ibrahimovic only resumed training this week after recovering from the virus but the 39-year-old Swede scored twice early on. Romelu Lukaku netted for Inter in the 29th minute.
“I’m very hungry because they locked the wrong animal at home,” Ibrahimovic said. “After two weeks at home, it’s not easy. Mentally it’s hard to be always at home. Being stuck at home the tempo drops off completely and the body starts to tremble because it wants to work and to play.”
It was Milan’s first win in the derby in the league since 2016 and left the Rossoneri top of the table.
Milan have won their opening four matches for the first time since the 1995-1996 season when they won the title under Fabio Capello.
Stefano Pioli’s side are three points ahead of Atalanta who fell 4-1 to third-placed Napoli, who are equal on eight points with Juventus who were held to a 1-1 draw at newly promoted Crotone.
Inter are sixth, five points below their city rivals.
“We all need to improve but, had we made more of our chances, people would be talking about a different Inter,” Nerazzurri coach Antonio Conte said. “It’s a real shame, because the game ended in a loss and, worst of all, its a derby defeat.”
The 39-year-old Ibrahimovic 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.
Inter halved the deficit when Ivan Perisic crossed for Lukaku to sidefoot home but Conte’s Inter were struggling with six players out to Covid-19.
Federico Chiesa was sent off on his debut for Juve as Crotone earned their first point back in Serie A.
Juve were without Cristiano Ronaldo and Weston McKennie, who both tested positive for Covid-19, and also had several other players out injured.
Simy gave Crotone a surprise lead from the penalty spot in the 12th minute after Leonardo Bonucci fouled Arkadiusz Reca.
Chiesa set up Alvaro Morata for the equaliser nine minutes later but was shown a straight red on the hour following a challenge on Crotone midfielder Luca Cigarini.
Juve thought they had scored shortly after but Morata’s effort was ruled out for offside on video review.
The only positive note for Atalanta from a miserable afternoon was the return of key forward Josip Ilicic.
The 32-year-old Ilicic hadn’t played since July and had been given compassionate leave by Atalanta because of personal issues.
Ilicic started against Napoli but couldnt prevent his team from slipping to a hefty defeat — only Atalanta’s second loss since January.
Hirving Lozano scored twice for Napoli and there were also goals for Matteo Politano and Victor Osimhen in the first half. Sam Lammers netted a consolation for Atalanta in the 69th.
Lazio, without suspended striker Ciro Immobile, lost 3-0 at Sampdoria.
Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2020