Romelu Lukaku hopes Inter are learning as they continue to struggle to perform consistently over 90 minutes despite sitting second in Serie A and reaching the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia.

Lukaku headed an extra-time winner to see off Fiorentina 2-1 in the Coppa on Wednesday, his 119th-minute goal settling a tie in which Inter had led at half-time through Arturo Vidal's penalty.

A dominant first 45 minutes had seen the Nerazzurri attempt eight shots to Fiorentina's one, while having 56.6 per cent of the possession.

But Christian Kouame equalised after 57 minutes, prior to Lukaku's introduction as a substitute, as the Viola outshot their visitors nine to six in the second period.

For Inter, it was a second successive match in which they lost the initiative, even if Lukaku's goal this time meant they advanced to face Milan in the last eight.

At Roma on Sunday, despite trailing at half-time, quickfire goals from Milan Skriniar and Achraf Hakimi had Antonio Conte's men in front before they conceded a late leveller.

Ahead of the Roma game, Conte had bemoaned Inter's inability to make fast starts, having led at the interval just four times in Serie A this term.

But Lukaku is now concerned by his team's displays from half-time onwards, a period in which they have scored an impressive 30 goals and conceded just 12 in the league.

"I don't know why it happens," Lukaku told Rai Sport. "We already said it after the draw against Roma that it shouldn't happen, but it happened, even if we still won this time.

"We are young, we must learn from these things, but we want to improve."

Having booked the meeting with Milan, a fixture he was reluctant to immediately discuss, Lukaku acknowledged there were still positives.

"We are happy to have won a difficult match against a great coach [Fiorentina's Cesare Prandelli]," he said. "We are happy and we want to continue like this."

Turning focus back to Serie A, Inter face champions Juventus next on Sunday, with the Derby d'Italia rivals determined to win to keep the pressure on leaders Milan.

"I expect a tactical match between two teams who are doing good things," Lukaku added. "Juventus are a big team. We want to prepare well for this match."

Substitute Romelu Lukaku rescued Inter with a 119th-minute winner to knock Fiorentina out of the Coppa Italia with a 2-1 win for the second season running.

Lukaku started from the bench ahead of Sunday's Derby d'Italia against Juventus but was called for in the second half after Christian Kouame had cancelled out Arturo Vidal's penalty opener.

There was no immediate impact as the Nerazzurri sought to get their season back on track, having taken just a point from their prior two Serie A matches.

Yet Lukaku made his mark deep into extra time at the Artemio Franchi, powering a header past Pietro Terracciano to book Inter's place in the quarter-finals.

Despite the coronavirus situation, Real Madrid are still looking to make a splash in the transfer market.

Madrid have long been linked with Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe.

And if reports are to be believed, the LaLiga champions are planning for the Frenchman.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID WORKING ON MBAPPE MOVE

Real Madrid are working on a plan to sign Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe, according to Tuesday's frontpage of Diario AS.

Mbappe – also linked to Liverpool – has been tipped to join Madrid, though Ligue 1 holders PSG remain committed to trying to re-sign the Frenchman.

Despite the economic fallout caused by coronavirus, Madrid are still looking to prise Mbappe to the Santiago Bernabeu thanks to player sales and revenue generated by the return of fans.

 

ROUND-UP

Bayern Munich have identified RB Leipzig star and centre-back Dayot Upamecano as the player to replace David Alaba, reports Sport 1. Alaba is out of contract at season's end and the Bayern star has been linked to the likes of Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester City. With Alaba heading for an exit, in-demand Upamecano is wanted in Munich. It comes as Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Barca vie for his signature.

- According to Esporte Interativo, Neymar wants to stay at PSG as the French giants prepare a new contract. Neymar has been linked with a return to Barca.

- Fabrizio Romano says an agreement has been reached between United and Bayer Leverkusen for Timothy Fosu-Mensah to join the Bundesliga side.

Milan are eyeing a move for Chelsea's Fikayo Tomori, reports Sky Sports. Strasbourg defender Mohamed Simakan remains the primary target for the Rossoneri. It comes as Fiorentina close in on Milan full-back Andrea Conti.

RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano's long-term future appears uncertain, though there is a strong possibility he will end up in the Premier League.

The France international centre-back has emerged as one of Europe's most-promising defenders in recent seasons and is part of a Leipzig side that has conceded just 12 goals in 15 Bundesliga games this season.

Upamecano, 22, looks certain for a big-money move eventually, and although his next destination is unclear, he has plenty of admirers in England.

TOP STORY – CHELSEA TO RIVAL MAN UNITED FOR UPAMECANO

Chelsea are going through a difficult period as they sit ninth in the Premier League, and their options at centre-back do not appear to be entirely to Frank Lampard's liking.

While 36-year-old Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma have become his preferred pairing, Lampard seems unconvinced by back-up options Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Fikayo Tomori.

The Mail on Sunday reports Chelsea have joined the list of clubs lining up for Upamecano, who reportedly has a release of around €50million (£45m) in the new contract he signed last year.

But Chelsea will not expect a free run at Upamecano – the Manchester Evening News claims Manchester United retain an interest in him, with the Red Devils' centre-back options also far from impressive in 2020-21.

ROUND-UP

- Paul Pogba appears to be returning to form on the evidence of his recent displays, but how much longer will he remain at Old Trafford? The Daily Star believes Mauricio Pochettino has identified him as a key target at Paris Saint-Germain. Real Madrid and Juventus have also been linked.

- Declan Rice's future continues to be subject of speculation, with the Daily Mirror reporting he favours a return to Chelsea – whom he played for at academy level – over joining Manchester United.

- Lucas Torreira could be on the move again. Arsenal loaned the Uruguayan midfielder to Atletico Madrid at the start of the season, but he has featured only six times in LaLiga. Mundo Deportivo suggests he is being lined up by Fiorentina.

- Inter could be set to further increase their contingent of former Manchester United players. The Mirror says Jesse Lingard is the latest to be targeted by the Nerazzurri, who already have Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez, Matteo Darmian and Ashley Young on their books.

- M'Bala Nzola has been one of the revelations of the season in Serie A with promoted Spezia. Napoli are said to be keen on the striker, though CalcioMercato reports Newcastle United and West Ham are monitoring the situation as well.

Wolves have recalled forward Patrick Cutrone from his loan spell with Fiorentina, bolstering their attacking options while Raul Jimenez recovers from a serious head injury.

Mexico striker Jimenez sustained a fractured skull in a clash of heads with Arsenal's David Luiz during a 2-1 win at the end of November and does not appear close to a return.

Since then, 18-year-old Fabio Silva, a pre-season recruit from Porto, has filled in as Wolves' main centre-forward and looked lively, if unspectacular.

The youngster has featured seven times in the Premier League and scored once, his eight shot attempts fewer than Ruben Neves, Romain Saiss (both nine) and Pedro Neto (10).

Wolves' options in that part of the pitch are limited, making Cutrone's recall less of a surprise.

The Italian joined for a reported £16million (€17.7m) from Milan in 2019 but he scored just three times in 24 appearances across all competitions before being sent to Fiorentina on a planned 18-month loan in January last year.

However, he fared no better with the Viola, netting only four times in 30 Serie A outings and laying on just six chances for team-mates.

He will hope to take advantage of a clearer run at a first-team spot with Wolves, as Jimenez still has not been given a return date.

Cristiano Ronaldo says there was no excuse for Juventus' 3-0 home defeat to Fiorentina but is optimistic the Serie A champions will "come back stronger and more united than ever" in 2021.

The Turin giants suffered their heaviest loss since moving to the Allianz Stadium nine years ago as the lowly Viola pulled off a shock victory on Tuesday.

Juve were already a goal down following an opener from Dusan Vlahovic when Juan Cuadrado was sent off after only 18 minutes for a challenge on Gaetano Castrovilli.

Alex Sandro's own goal and Martin Caceres' simple finish sealed it for Fiorentina, leaving Andrea Pirlo's side seven points behind leaders Milan in fourth place at the end of the year.

Prolific forward Ronaldo knows their display was unacceptable and called on the Bianconeri to regroup for the remainder of the season.

The Portugal captain posted on Instagram: "Yesterday, with a poor performance and a result far from acceptable, we closed our scheduled games for 2020, a special year in many particular ways. Empty stadiums, COVID protocols, postponed games, long stoppages and a very tight calendar.

"But this is no excuse for anything. We know that we have to give more of ourselves, in order to play better and to win in a more consistent way. We are Juventus! And we simply cannot accept anything less than excellence on the pitch!

"I hope this short stoppage may help us to come back stronger and more united than ever, because the season is still far from over and in the end we believe that we will, once again, celebrate with our tiffosi.

"Believe in us, trust our team as much as we trust you, and we will deliver!"

Andrea Pirlo refused to blame Juan Cuadrado's dismissal for Juventus' heavy home loss to Fiorentina and instead questioned the attitude of his players heading into the match.

Juve suffered their first Serie A defeat under Pirlo in his 13th league match in charge, going down 3-0 in what was also their heaviest loss since moving to the Allianz Stadium in 2011.

Cuadrado caught Gaetano Castrovilli on the shin and was issued a red card on his 200th appearance for the Turin giants – upgraded from a yellow following a VAR check – with only 18 minutes on the clock.

Dusan Vlahovic had given Fiorentina an early lead by that point and Juve could not respond, conceding again through Alex Sandro's own goal and Martin Caceres' tap-in.

Juve had a couple of penalty appeals turned down in Tuesday's match, their last of 2020, but Pirlo conceded his team simply failed to turn up.

"What happened with the red card cannot be used as an alibi," he told Sky Sport Italia. "The result was not down to Fiorentina's attitude but the lack of ours.

"When this is the case you face bad situations like this. In games before Christmas it can happen then you have your mind on the holidays. We were unfocused and could not recover.

"The images for the sending off seem clear to me. There could have been some decisions in our favour, but that's not something I want to comment on – you can see for yourself.

Juve had more possession than Fiorentina (54 per cent) and more shots (13 to 10) yet ultimately saw a 13-game unbeaten run come to a shuddering halt. 

Leonardo Bonucci in particular struggled – the experienced defender arguably at fault for all three of the opposition goals.

He lost possession six times in all and won only half of his 10 duels, but Pirlo stood by his skipper at full-time.

"Bad evenings like these happen to everyone," he said. "Up until this point he has made some great performances.

"It happens to everyone. He is our captain and we still have great faith in him."

Juve suffered a double title blow of sorts on Tuesday, this defeat to Fiorentina coming hours after Napoli won their appeal against October's abandoned fixture between the sides.

The Bianconeri had been awarded a 3-0 forfeit win after Napoli failed to turn up due to a travel ban put in place by local authorities after Piotr Zielinski, Eljif Elmas and a member of staff had tested positive for COVID-19.

But the Italian National Olympic Committee's Collegio di Garanzia dello Sport – the highest sports authority in the country – ruled in the Napoli's favour, meaning the game must be replayed in early 2021.

Juve are therefore three points worse off, now seven adrift of leaders Milan, and Pirlo questioned the fairness of the decision.

"We don't mind playing the game again. I'm more disappointed for the other teams that have travelled and played without far more players who had COVID," he said. "They showed great fairness by playing anyway.

"I won't say if the ruling was correct or not, but it didn't seem fair to the other teams who carried on and played in more difficult situations."

Ten-man Juventus' unbeaten start to the Serie A season was ended by Fiorentina as they suffered a humbling 3-0 loss at the Allianz Stadium.

The champions had gone 12 games without a loss in the top flight under Andrea Pirlo prior to Tuesday's setback, coming on the day they discovered their 3-0 forfeit win over Napoli in October has been revoked following their opponents' successful appeal.

Dusan Vlahovic scored early on for Fiorentina and Juve then lost Juan Cuadrado with 18 minutes played, the referee upgrading the yellow card he initially showed to a red following a VAR check.

Juve were unable to hit back and conceded twice more in the final 14 minutes, with Alex Sandro putting into his net and their former player Martin Caceres tapping in to inflict a further Scudetto blow on Pirlo's men.
 

Andrea Pirlo expects to have Paulo Dybala available again as Juventus bring the curtain down on 2020 at home to Fiorentina on Tuesday.

Dybala, who has been the subject of transfer speculation amid tricky contract negotiations, missed Saturday's big 4-0 win at Parma due to a thigh injury.

The Argentina international has started only five games in Serie A this term, making eight appearances in the competition in total.

His production when on the pitch has also been underwhelming, with one goal from 23 shots while failing to register an assist despite creating 14 chances.

But Pirlo talked up the forward's talents at the weekend and was optimistic he would return against Fiorentina, with encouraging news following on Monday.

"Someone is better: Paulo trained a bit with the team today," Pirlo told Juventus TV. "He is better and I think he can come with us for the match tomorrow.

"[Merih] Demiral is better, too, but Arthur is not available, because he still feels pain where he took the blow against Atalanta."

Juve are one of only two teams in Europe's 'top five' leagues without defeat this season, although they trail Serie A leaders Milan - the other unbeaten side - by four points having drawn six times.

The Bianconeri have not registered back-to-back clean sheets since June - drawing 1-1 with Atalanta before the Parma game - and Pirlo wants to see a more consistent level of performance.

"We are growing rapidly, but it is important to have consistency in the games and the victories," he said. "Only with this can you go on and improve.

"We are doing well and we are improving game after game, but we still have great room for improvement."

Opponents Fiorentina are winless in eight in Serie A, but Pirlo considers the strugglers "a very good team" with "a great class player" in Franck Ribery.

The Juve coach is also familiar with his opposite number, having played under Cesare Prandelli - appointed in November and still waiting on a first victory - with the Italy national team.

"I had a lot of good times with him," Pirlo said. "We had a great European Championship [in 2012], losing the final against Spain.

"He is a kind-hearted person who I had the pleasure of working with for several years, including a World Cup, a Confederations Cup.

"So, I see him again with great pleasure and he deserves something more on the pitch right now."

Pirlo added: "We will have to be careful because it is the last game of 2020 and we need to finish in the best way."

Juve are the side against which Fiorentina have lost the most games (78) and conceded the most goals (266) in Serie A.

Marcus Rashford is contracted to Manchester United until 2023.

But the Red Devils are still planning to renew Rashford's deal in Manchester.

Pay rise anyone?

 

TOP STORY – RASHFORD IN LINE FOR BUMPER DEAL

Manchester United are set to hand Marcus Rashford a lucrative new contract, according to the Daily Star.

Rashford has impressed on and off the pitch at Old Trafford since making his United debut in 2015.

The 23-year-old – contracted until 2023 – is in line to be rewarded with a bumper £300,000 deal.

 

ROUND-UP

- Diario AS reports Rennes and France sensation Eduardo Camavinga is edging closer to a transfer to LaLiga champions Real Madrid. The 18-year-old midfielder has also been linked to United and Paris Saint-Germain, but Madrid – also a possible destination for Juventus target Paul Pogba – are tipped to prise the Frenchman to the Spanish capital. 

Barcelona are willing to sell Philippe Coutinho, claims ARA. It comes amid the club's financial issues due to the coronavirus pandemic.

- Corriere dello Sport says Fiorentina want Napoli outcast and soon-to-be free agent Arkadiusz Milik. The Poland international has also been linked to Roma, Atletico Madrid and Juventus.

- Parma's Gervinho and Udinese star Rodrigo De Paul are among the players wanted by Inter, according to Tuttosport.

Paulo Dybala could be set to leave Juventus – and the playmaker is eyeing the Premier League's big six.

Dybala is out of contract with the Serie A champions in 2022 but has reportedly been close to signing a new deal.

However, the Premier League could be awaiting the Argentina international.

 

TOP STORY – DYBALA OFFERED TO PREMIER LEAGUE'S BIG SIX

Dybala's representatives have reached out to the big six in the Premier League ahead of a possible move from Juventus next year, according to 90min.

Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal may be looking at the playmaker.

Dybala has made 10 appearances in all competitions for Juve this season, scoring once.

 

ROUND-UP

- Struggling in the Premier League, Arsenal could be making moves in January. The Daily Express reports the Premier League club could make a bid for Salzburg midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai in January due to Real Madrid's apparent interest in the Hungary international.

- United are monitoring Atletico Madrid right-back Kieran Trippier, according to The Telegraph.

- Premier League giants could be set for another transfer battle. Liverpool, United and Chelsea are keeping an eye on Cagliari defender Sebastian Walukiewicz, who recently re-signed until 2024, claims Corriere dello Sport.

- Krzysztof Piatek may return to Serie A. TodoFichajes reports Fiorentina want the Hertha Berlin striker, who has scored seven goals in 25 Bundesliga games for the club since joining from Milan in January.

- Travian Sousa is seemingly attracting interest. 90min reports United and Liverpool are interested in the American left-back, who left Hamburg in October.

Is Zinedine Zidane's second spell in charge of Real Madrid coming to an end?

Zidane guided Madrid to three successive Champions League titles in his first stint, and last season's LaLiga crown after returning to the Santiago Bernabeu in 2019.

But the Los Blancos great is under mounting pressure amid the club's struggles this season.

 

TOP STORY – ZIDANE IN DANGER

Mauricio Pochettino and Raul are waiting in the wings to replace Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid, according to widespread reports in Spain.

Madrid head coach Zidane is in danger of losing his job following Tuesday's Champions League loss to Shakhtar Donetsk.

Los Blancos have suffered back-to-back defeats and three in their past five outings across all competitions to be seven points adrift in LaLiga and on the cusp of Champions League elimination.

Thursday's Mundo Deportivo, Diario AS and Sport report former Tottenham boss Pochettino and Madrid Castilla coach Raul are eyeing the hot seat.

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims the race to sign Rennes and France sensation Eduardo Camavinga is down to Madrid and Manchester United. Serie A champions Juventus had also been linked, though there has been talk of Paul Pogba returning to Turin after leaving for Old Trafford in 2016.

- Bayern Munich star David Alaba is hoping to strike a January agreement with Chelsea, according to Fabrizio Romano's 'Here We Go Podcast'. Alaba is a free agent at the end of the season and he has been linked to the likes of Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

Juventus have shown an interest in Barcelona centre-back Samuel Umtiti, according to Calciomercato. Arsenal's Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic are also on the shortlist.

Madrid are eyeing Benfica forward Darwin Nunez, reports Calciomercato. The Uruguay international has also caught the attention of LaLiga rivals Barca.

- What does the future hold for Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland? Heavily linked to United, Madrid, Liverpool, PSG and even Barca, Calciomercato says Juve are monitoring the Norwegian closely.

Franck Kessie insists he is ready to step up to the penalty spot once again after mixed returns during Milan's 2-0 win over Fiorentina. 

The Rossoneri made light of Zlatan Ibrahimovic's hamstring injury absence by restoring a five-point advantage over rivals Inter at the Serie A summit. 

Captain Alessio Romagnoli was left unmarked to head a 17th-minute opener before Kessie converted from 12 yards following German Pezzella's lunging foul on Alexis Saelemaekers. 

Kessie sent Bartlomiej Dragowski the wrong way in the 27th minute but the Fiorentina goalkeeper guessed correctly to gain a measure of revenge before half-time, Martin Caceres having brought down Theo Hernandez. 

“I scored the first, I missed the second but I am going to take the third one,” Kessie told DAZN.

Ibrahimovic might have something to say about that on his return, despite chequered recent returns from the spot, and the evergreen striker was not the only high-profile absentee, with Milan head coach Stefano Pioli isolating at home after a positive coronavirus test. 

Pioli spoke to his players via a video call to celebrate their victory and Kessie said: "He congratulated the team, he was happy. It was a very important game." 

Coach Daniele Bonera took charge on the touchline in Pioli's absence and reserved praise for Kessie, who gained possession more times than any other Milan player (11), contested 16 duels, completed 85.3 per cent of his passes and had five shots in an all-action display. 

“We know how important Franck is, he has become pivotal in terms of quantity and quality," Bonera told DAZN. 

"We used to think he was mainly muscle, but he has really improved his technique and we are very happy with him."

Milan made light of Zlatan Ibrahimoivic's injury absence with an assured 2-0 win over Fiorentina to restore their five-point advantage at the top of Serie A.

Evergreen striker Ibrahimovic made it 10 goals in six top-flight matches this season when his brace inspired a 3-1 win at Napoli, although he limped off with a hamstring complaint in the closing stages.

Yet Stefano Pioli's side marched on without their talisman against struggling Fiorentina, with Franck Kessie netting one first-half penalty and missing a second after Alessio Romagnoli opened the scoring.

The result meant Milan were able to keep Inter at arm's length in what is shaping up to be an intriguing title battle, their city rivals having dispatched third-placed Sassuolo 3-0 on Saturday.

Fiorentina undid an encouraging start in the 17th minute when Milan captain Romagnoli was left unmarked at the back post to nod in Kessie's flick-on from Hakan Calhanoglu's right-wing corner.

Dusan Vlahovic thumped against Gianluigi Donnarumma's near post as Cesare Prandelli's men searched for an equaliser but they were left with a mountain to climb when German Pezzella clumsily brought down Alexis Saelemaekers in the area.

Kessie coolly sent Bartlomiej Dragowski the wrong way but the Fiorentina goalkeeper levelled their personal battle in the 40th minute – springing to his left to keep out a poorly struck spot-kick after Martin Caceres bundled into the marauding Theo Hernandez.

Calhanoglu fizzed a fabulous half-volley into the side netting before half-time and came even closer in the 53rd minute, hitting the base of the left post.

Franck Ribery almost reduced the arrears two minutes later but Donnarumma was equal to the veteran campaigner's dinked effort – a squandered chance which summed up a Fiorentina display littered with moments of self-sabotage.

Will Lionel Messi be a Barcelona player for much longer?

Messi, who has called Camp Nou home for his entire senior career, is reportedly eyeing a sensational exit.

And Manchester City are continuing to pursue the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI, CITY RUMOURS GROW

Lionel Messi's links with Manchester City are tightening following Pep Guardiola's renewal, according to Diario AS.

Messi was tipped to join City after handing in a transfer request at the start of the season, but the Barca captain opted to remain at Camp Nou.

However, with manager Guardiola extending his City contract, rumours are intensifying.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Premier League's 'big six' are interested in signing Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos. 90min claims Liverpool, City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham are eyeing the veteran defender, who is out of contract at the end of the campaign.

Milan could be set for a busy January. Tuttomercato reports Milan want Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic on loan with an option to buy for €30million. Inter and Juventus have also been linked with the Serbia international. It comes as Rossoneri duo Andrea Conti and Leo Duarte face uncertain futures, while Salzburg sensation Dominik Szoboszlai continues to be linked to Milan.

- Kicker says Paris Saint-Germain are favourites to sign Bayern Munich's soon-to-be free agent David Alaba, who has also been linked to Madrid and City.

- Chelsea full-back Emerson Palmieri could join Juve in January, though Alaba and Atalanta star Robin Goosens are also options for the Serie A champions, according to Calciomercato.

Page 1 of 9
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.