Still dominant at 40: Ibra decisive as AC Milan beats Roma
ROME (AP) — Turning 40 hasn’t stopped Zlatan Ibrahimović from being Zlatan Ibrahimović.
The ageless Sweden great, whose 40th birthday was on Oct. 3, scored one goal and also drew a penalty that led to AC Milan’s second goal in a 2-1 win at José Mourinho’s Roma in the Italian league on Sunday.
Before he was substituted near the hour mark, Ibrahimović tormented Roma with chance after chance, with only the offside rule and VAR preventing him from scoring or setting up several more goals.
“Ibra is always psyched up,” Milan coach Stefano Pioli said. “He was even more motivated to play in front of a hostile crowd. He’s always able to find motivation.”
The victory extended Milan’s superb start in Serie A and kept the Rossoneri level on points with Napoli, which still leads on goal difference after a 1-0 win over regional rival Salernitana.
Ibrahimović scored midway through the first half with a powerful free kick through Roma’s wall for his 400th career league goal.
His first league goal came almost exactly 22 years ago — on Oct. 30, 1999 as an 18-year-old for Malmö FF in Sweden’s top division.
Moments later, Ibrahimović nearly created another goal but he was ruled offside after chesting down a near-perfect setup for Rafael Leão.
Still hungry for more, Ibrahimović also had a goal disallowed by VAR when he was again offside.
But when Ibrahimović was the victim of a hard tackle from Roger Ibañez, the referee whistled for a penalty and it was confirmed by VAR, leading to Franck Kessie’s spot kick in the 57th.
Milan then ended with 10 men after Theo Hernandez picked up his second yellow card, which will keep him out of next weekend’s derby with Inter.
Stephan El Shaarawy pulled one back for Roma in stoppage time.
Napoli struggled to find the target in its win over Salernitana, which is back in the top division for the first time in more than two decades.
Piotr Zielinski scored on the hour mark following a header from Andrea Petagna that hit the crossbar.
Napoli was missing standout center forward Victor Osimhen, who was out with a muscular issue, and captain Lorenzo Insigne was kept on the bench in an apparent tactical decision.
Napoli has won 10 of its opening matches for the second time in club history, after 2017-18.
Joaquín Correa scored two second-half goals in an eight-minute span as defending champion Inter Milan beat Udinese 2-0 to remain seven points behind the leaders.
Inter dominated from the start at San Siro with Nicolò Barella producing seven attempts in the first half as the Nerazzurri midfielder seemed determined to score.
However, it was Correa who gave Inter the lead on the hour mark. Ivan Perišić’s dummy allowed Correa to get on the end of a pass from Alessandro Bastoni and he raced down most of the half before cutting past a defender and firing into the bottom left corner.
Correa’s second came with a shot into the top left corner.
Wantaway forward Dušan Vlahović may have endeared himself to fans again after scoring a hat trick to help Fiorentina beat Spezia 3-0.
Vlahović converted a penalty on the stroke of halftime and added two after the break to take his tally to nine in Serie A this season.
The 21-year-old recently turned down a new contract, much to the ire of Fiorentina fans who have insulted him after recent matches. His current deal expires in 2023 but the club have not ruled out him leaving in January.
Fiorentina moved to within one point of fourth-place Roma. Spezia slipped into the relegation zone after Genoa moved above it on goal difference thanks to a 0-0 draw at home to fellow struggler Venezia. Head-to-head is the first tiebreaker in Italy if teams are level on points at the end of the season.
Elsewhere, two late goals saw Empoli come from behind to win 2-1 at Sassuolo.
Matar reported from Milan.
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