Title wait nearly over for Milan after 2-0 win over Atalanta
MILAN (AP) — AC Milan’s lengthy wait for the Italian league title will last another week at least.
Second-half goals from Rafael Leão and Theo Hernández saw Milan beat Atalanta 2-0 on Sunday and it now only needs one point from its final match to secure its first Serie A title since 2011.
The Rossoneri could even have clinched the title on Sunday but defending champion and fierce rival Inter Milan won 3-1 at relegation-threatened Cagliari to keep its fading title hopes alive.
Milan was two points ahead of Inter and has the better head-to-head record, which is the first tiebreaker in Serie A. Stefano Pioli’s Milan plays at Sassuolo in the final round next weekend, and Inter hosts Sampdoria.
There was a heady atmosphere at San Siro, with Milan fans knowing their team is on the brink of ending the 11-year wait.
However, Atalanta managed to frustrate Milan and almost took the lead in the 31st minute but Rossoneri goalkeeper Mike Maignan pulled off a good save to keep out Luis Muriel’s effort.
Milan upped the tempo in the second half and fans were on their feet nine minutes after the restart as they thought Hernández’s free kick had gone in but it landed on the outside of the side netting.
They only had to wait two minutes, however, before Leão used his pace to run onto a ball over the top from Junior Messias — who had only just come on — and drill it into the bottom left corner in the 56th.
And Milan all but sealed the match 15 minutes from time with a stunning goal from Hernández, who mazed his way from the edge of his area all the way into the opponents’ area before firing into the bottom right corner.
NOT OVER YET
Two more goals from star striker Lautaro Martínez kept alive second-place Inter’s hopes of retaining the Italian league title.
Martínez’s goals came in the second half as Inter faced a stern test in Cagliari, which remained two points from safety.
Inter thought it had taken an early lead when Milan Škriniar’s first attempt hit the left post before he bundled in the rebound. However, a video review ruled it out for handball from the Inter defender.
The Nerazzurri did take the lead in the 25th when Matteo Darmian outleaped his marker for a looping header on a splendid cross from Ivan Perišić to the back post.
Inter almost doubled its advantage on the stroke of halftime but Martínez’s first effort came off the post and Cagliari goalkeeper Alessio Cragno tipped his second attempt over the bar.
Martínez got his goal six minutes after the break as he sprung the offside trap to run onto a long ball and held off his defender before firing into the far bottom corner.
But Cagliari pulled one back three minutes later with a fierce effort from Charalampos Lykogiannis that took a slight deflection off Škriniar.
However, Martínez sealed the result with his second of the match and 25th of the season.
Lorenzo Insigne bid farewell to Napoli and netted a penalty in a 3-0 win over relegation-threatened Genoa.
It was the final home game for Insigne, who is leaving Napoli at the end of the season after 15 years to join Toronto FC in Major League Soccer, and he gave an emotional speech to the fans before kickoff.
Insigne originally fired his spot kick onto the post with Giovanni Di Lorenzo netting the rebound. However, it was ordered to be retaken due to encroachment and Insigne thumped his second attempt into the top corner.
The 30-year-old Insigne was given a standing ovation when he was substituted in the final minutes and did a lap of honor after full time.
Earlier, Sassuolo won 3-1 at Bologna.
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