Milan were overjoyed at their late win over Fiorentina
Milan (AFP) - AC Milan kept their Serie A title defence just about on track on Sunday after a controversial stoppage-time own goal from Nikola Milenkovic handed the champions a last-gasp 2-1 win over Fiorentina.
Stefano Pioli’s side were set to be 10 points behind league leaders Napoli heading into the World Cup break after Antonin Barak levelled Rafael Leao’s early opener midway through the first half.
But with the clock ticking down Fiorentina defender Milenkovic bundled the ball into his own goal just after goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano clashed with Ante Rebic while trying to punch out a cross.
The away side were livid at the goal being awarded while a packed San Siro roared in delight at a win which keeps Milan eight points off the pace.
Milan are provisionally second but will drop down to third place if Lazio win at Juventus in the final match of 2022 later on Sunday.
The points came after a fraught contest in which Fiorentina played their part, striking the post through Cristiano Biraghi and Jonathan having a good effort cleared off the line just before Milan snatched the points.
Milan also survived two penalty scares either side of half-time when Pierre Kalulu and Fikayo Tomori were both judged to have made fair challenges on Biraghi and Ikone.
And the home fans thought they had missed their chance when Leao blasted a great opportunity to win the game over the bar with 12 minutes to go, before Milenkovic saved their skin at the last.
- Dzeko double -
Inter Milan are three points behind their local rivals in fourth after veteran forward Dzeko struck twice in a 3-2 win at Atalanta, putting the hosts in the lead after Ademola Lookman’s penalty for the hosts.
Edin Dzeko has scored six goals in Serie A this season
Jose Luis Palomino glanced in an own goal an hour into his Atalanta return after being cleared of doping offences.
The Argentine then pulled one back with 13 minutes remaining but Inter won and will stay in the Champions League spots as long as Juventus do not beat Lazio.
Simone Inzaghi’s team are 11 points behind unbeaten Napoli and host the leaders in their first match following the World Cup.
“Our hope is that we win the next match, like I said after Bologna (won 6-1 midweek) we have to look forwards and not backwards,” added Dzeko, who has scored nine times in all competitions this season.
Atalanta are sixth, 14 points off the pace after their third straight defeat.
- Dybala shines -
Paulo Dybala made an almost immediate impact his first Roma appearance in over a month, helping his underwhelming team snatch a late 1-1 draw with Torino.
Roma sparked into life after Dybala came on with 20 minutes remaining at the Stadio Olimpico and Roma trailing to Karol Linetty’s 55th minute header.
The 28-year-old won a stoppage-time penalty which former Torino captain Andrea Belotti smashed off the post. Seconds later Nemanja Matic thumped in a long-range leveller after Dybala’s curling shot crashed off the bar.
Paulo Dybala (C) won a penalty which was missed in his return to Roma action
“Belotti felt like taking it, so I let him,” said Dybala, who last injured himself taking a penalty.
“He’s a striker who’s scored a lot of goals, and anyone can miss a penalty.”
Jose Mourinho’s side sit seventh, three points behind Inter in the race for the Champions League spots after another stodgy performance.
“We are a limited team. When a player like Dybala isn’t playing it’s different,” said Mourinho, who was sent off late on.
Poland international goalkeeper Bartlomiej Dragowski is out of the World Cup after suffering a bad ankle injury in Spezia’s 2-1 win at rock-bottom Verona which moved his team six points clear of the relegation zone.