Milan clubs both win in Serie A ahead of Champions League showdown
AC Milan and Inter Milan secured matching 2-0 victories over Roman clubs as they briefly swopped places in Serie A ahead of their Champions League semi-final clash.
Milan briefly jumped from sixth to fourth, leapfrogging Inter, with a home victory over second-place Lazio in the early game.
“We played a great game. Now there is plenty of time to recover ahead of the semi-final against Inter,”
“Now let’s think about the Champions League.”Said Milan coach Stefano Pioli.
Inter then jumped back to fourth when they won away at Roma, keeping Jose Mourinho’s team outside the European places.
Inter coach, Simone Inzaghi said the Champions League semi-final would be “a showdown played over 180 minutes.”
“We know what we have to do,”He added.
At the San Siro, Ismael Bennacer pounced on a loose ball in the Lazio area and thrashed his shot home to give AC Milan the lead in the 17th minute.
After 29 minutes, wingback Theo Hernandez collected a roll-out from goalkeeper Mike Maignan on the edge of the Milan box.
After shrugging off an early challenge the Frenchman ran unhindered deep into the Lazio half before thumping a dipping 30-metre shot past Ivan Provedel.
Lazio did not manage a shot on target, although Toma Basic scuffed a close-range chance in the dying seconds.
The two Milan clubs meet in the first leg of a Champions League semi-final on Wednesday and both seemed to have an eye on that match.
Milan withdrew Rafael Leao after 10 minutes. The winger indicated to the bench that he had a thigh problem and, after a discussion, was replaced.
‘Stopped in time’
“He stopped in time,”
“We’ll see tomorrow. At the end of the game he was serene, he felt good, I don’t think it’s something particularly serious.”
“We are able to play a great game even without him.”Said Pioli.
Inter left several regular attacking starters on the bench against injury- hit Roma.
Edin Dzeko and Henrikh Mkhitaryan remained spectators throughout while Lautauro Martinez appeared for the last 30 minutes.
Left back Federico Dimarco gave Inter the lead after 33 minutes and Romelu Lukaku added the second in the 74th minute.
Inzaghi said that his changes reflected the health of his squad.
“Now I have the chance to choose and rotate both in midfield and in attack,”He said.
Roma also have an eye on Europe. They stayed seventh, five points behind Inter in the last Champions League place, but have another route into that competition if they win the Europa League. Roma host Leverkusen in the first leg of a semi-final on Thursday.
Mourinho gathered his players on the field at the final whistle.
“I thanked them for their efforts, the efforts of those who are exhausted, of those who played on one leg, of the one who played with broken ribs or after an injection,”
“I go home with great pride. On Thursday we will be there.”He said.
Their neighbours, Lazio stayed second behind newly-crowned champions Napoli but could drop to third if Juventus win away to Atalanta on Sunday.
Earlier on Saturday, Genoa ensured an immediate return to the top flight when they beat visiting Ascoli 2-1 in Serie B.
With two rounds of games left, Genoa moved eight points clear of third-place Bari who drew 1-1 at Modena.
Leaders Frosinone, who had secured promotion the previous week, won 3-1 at Pisa.
The third promotion place will be determined in a playoff involving six teams.
Genoa could replace neighbours Sampdoria who are bottom of Serie A and 10 points from safety.