Rafael Leão’s early strike moves AC Milan top of Serie A
MILAN, Italy (AP) — AC Milan surged to the top of Serie A with a 1-0 win over Sampdoria on Sunday.
After beating city rival Inter Milan 2-1 in the previous round, Milan was third in the standings going into its game against Sampdoria and trailed leader Inter — which was held 1-1 at Napoli on Saturday — by two points.
That all changed when Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan set up the winning goal for Rafael Leão in the eighth minute. The France international sent a long kick from outside his penalty area to feed Leão who controlled the ball on the left flank before moving past defender Bartosz Bereszyński to beat Sampdoria goalkeeper Wladimiro Facone.
It was the 10th goal of the season for the Portugal forward in his 100th appearance for the Rossoneri,
Striker Olivier Giroud, who scored both goals in the game against Inter, had his second-half header from close range fingertipped over by Facone.
Milan tops the table with 55 points, one clear of Inter in second with Napoli another point back. Inter has a game in hand on both teams.
Milan’s three wins in a week, including a 4-0 rout of Lazio in the Coppa Italia, pleased coach Stefano Pioli.
“It has been the perfect week. There were very difficult and delicate games coming up a week ago, so winning all three is certainly a great sign,” Pioli told Sky Sport Italia. “We know there’s a long path ahead of us, but we want to keep it going.”
Danilo scored a stoppage-time equalizer for Juventus to draw 1-1 at Atalanta and retain fourth place. The Brazilian headed in off a corner from Paulo Dybala.
Fifth-place Atalanta was close to bouncing back from a home loss to Cagliari with a victory at the expense of Juventus. Substitute Ruslan Malinovskyi gave the hosts a late lead in Bergamo. Malinovskyi fired a long-distance shot into the top corner in the 76th minute after receiving a backheel pass from a free kick, giving goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny no chance to prevent the goal.
In an entertaining game, Juventus’ newly signed striker Dusan Vlahovic had several chances saved by goalkeeper Marco Sportiello.
Juventus is on 46 points, two more than Atalanta.
Bryan Cristante headed in an injury-time equalizer to salvage a 2-2 draw for Roma at 10-man Sassuolo. Tammy Abraham converted from the penalty spot to put Roma ahead in first-half stoppage time. Sassuolo turned things around after halftime due to an own-goal by Chris Smalling and Hamed Junior Traore put the hosts ahead in the 73rd.
Five minutes later, Sassuolo was reduced to 10 men after Gian Marco Ferrari received his second yellow card.
Roma remains seventh, Sassuolo is 12th.
Fabio Depaoli, Antonin Barak, Gianluca Caprari and Adrien Tameze all scored to lead Verona to a 4-0 rout of Udinese and cement its ninth position.
Substitute Leonardo Pavoletti scored late to salvage a 1-1 draw for Cagliari at Empoli. It was another unexpected result away from home for the 18th-place Cagliari, which stunned Atalanta 2-1 in Bergamo a week ago.
In a match between the two bottom clubs, Genoa and Salernitana drew 1-1.
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