Milan kept some pressure on Serie A leaders Inter as they cut the gap at the top of the table to eight points with an unconvincing 2-1 win over Genoa.

Ante Rebic's superb 13th-minute opener appeared to put Milan on course for a routine win, but they made heavy weather of things thereafter.

Former Milan loanee Mattia Destro levelled before half-time and the Rossoneri required an own goal from Gianluca Scamacca to claim maximum points.

Inter can stretch their lead at the top back to 11 points by beating Napoli later on Sunday, but Milan's slim hopes are still alive, while this result is another step towards making sure of Champions League qualification.

Genoa goalkeeper Mattia Perin had not been tested in the opening 12 minutes but he was left with no chance when Rebic unleashed a stunning volley on the turn to find the bottom-right corner in style after the visitors failed to clear having initially blocked Theo Hernandez's effort from a free-kick.

But Milan were unable to build on their lead and saw it eradicated by an excellent header from Destro eight minutes before half-time as he lost his marker to meet Miha Zajc's corner.

Rebic spurned a golden chance to restore Milan's advantage but could only blaze over from point-blank range after excellent work from Pierre Kalulu.

Marko Pjaca threatened to complete the turnaround for Genoa as he came off the bench and shot narrowly wide and Simon Kjaer should have done better with a header at the other end.

However, Milan were given a helping hand by Scamacca, who inadvertently diverted Hakan Calhanoglu's corner into his own net in the 68th minute.

They required late defensive heroics from Kjaer and Fiyako Tomori to stay in front as they each produced goal-line clearances to deny Andrea Masiello and Valon Behrami and keep Milan hanging on Inter's coattails.

 

Andrea Pirlo had no issues with Cristiano Ronaldo throwing his shirt on the ground after failing to score in Juventus' Serie A victory over Genoa.

Dejan Kulusevski, Alvaro Morata and Weston McKennie were on target as Juve took another step towards sealing a Champions League spot with a 3-1 win at Allianz Stadium on Sunday.

Ronaldo has found the back of the net 32 times for the Bianconeri this season, but cut a frustrated figure after he was unable to add to his tally in Turin.

The Portugal captain struck the post in the first half before Morata followed up to double Juve's lead and hit the target only twice in six attempts.

Ronaldo whipped off his shirt and hurled it on the turf following the final whistle and head coach Pirlo had no problem with that reaction.

Pirlo said: "He was keen on scoring. He is one of the champions because they always want to leave their mark, but these are normal things that happen."

Juve came under pressure after dominating the first half and were in danger of losing their lead following Gianluca Scamacca's goal early in the second half.

Pirlo was concerned by the manner in which they let Genoa come back into the game.

He added: "It all seemed easy, at the end of the first half we suffered an opportunity due to lack of concentration.

"It had happened to us in other games, it could cost us dearly. We entered the field wanting to play the game but we sat back."

Paulo Dybala had to once again settle for being introduced as a substitute after coming off the bench to score in a huge win over Napoli amid speculation over his future.

Pirlo defended his decision not to start the playmaker, who spent a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a knee injury.

The former Italy midfielder said: "I'm lucky enough to coach the champions and Dybala is one of them so I try to be able to make the most of him in every game.

"We didn't have him available very much this year, now he's back and it will help us to give us a hand in this final rush. The managers are there for these decisions."

Dejan Kulusevski scored his first goal since January as Juventus took another step towards securing a Champions League spot with a 3-1 win over Genoa.

Kulusevski opened the scoring early on and Alvaro Morata doubled Juve's lead midway through the first half of Sunday's Serie A clash at Allianz Stadium.

Genoa posed much more of a threat after the break and Gianluca Scamacca's goal early in the second half gave them hope.

Weston McKennie gave Andrea Pirlo's side breathing space with a third goal as they moved a point behind third-placed Milan with eight games to play.

Juan Cuadrado was the architect for Juve's opening goal four minutes in, bamboozling Nicolo Rovella with great trickery before cutting the ball into the path of Kulusevski, who found the far corner of the net with a measured left-foot finish.

The champions were in the mood and doubled their last after 21 minutes, with a moment to forget for Ivan Radovanovic.

Federico Chiesa raced away from the defender after robbing him just inside the Juve half before forcing a fine save from Mattia Perin and although Cristiano Ronaldo struck the post from a tight angle, the onrushing Morata lashed the loose ball home with his left foot.

Perin palmed Adrien Rabiot's rasping drive away and Wojciech Szczesny prevented Scamacca from pulling a goal back on the stroke of half-time after the striker got away from Matthijs de Ligt and Giorgio Chiellini with a sharp turn.

Scamacca halved the deficit three minutes into the second half, though, heading home an outswinging corner from the Juve-owned Rovella with De Ligt on the floor claiming he was pushed.

The Bianconeri looked shaky at the back and Marko Pjaca forced a great save from Szczesny before the same player fired wastefully off target from inside the area.

McKennie eased the tension just a couple of minutes after coming on, calmly finishing after clearly thinking he had strayed offside.

 

Juventus' win over Napoli in midweek will be rendered "meaningless" if they do not follow it up with another three points against Genoa on Sunday, according to head coach Andrea Pirlo. 

The Bianconeri bounced back from a 2-2 derby draw against Torino last weekend with a slender 2-1 victory over Gennaro Gattuso's Napoli on Wednesday to move to within one point of second-placed Milan. 

They host Genoa at the Allianz Stadium looking to achieve a fourth consecutive Serie A win against Davide Ballardini's men for the first time since 2008.

Pirlo was pleased with his side's approach against Napoli and says it is imperative his players have the same attitude on Sunday.

"It's perhaps much easier to find the right spirit in a big match like Napoli, but we need the same attitude even against smaller clubs, starting from tomorrow," he told a media conference.

"We need to find some consistency and that means facing tomorrow's game with ferocity. Beating Napoli is meaningless unless we follow it up with the same performance against Genoa."

Paulo Dybala came off the bench to score the decisive goal against Napoli, steering a fine finish past Alex Meret after Cristiano Ronaldo's first-half opener.

He has scored seven league goals against Genoa, including his first Serie A hat-trick in August 2017 – only against Udinese (eight) has he scored more in the competition.

With a year to run on his contract, it has been suggested Juve could look to move Dybala on after this season, but Pirlo insists the Argentina international remains a key part of his plans. 

"I don't think Dybala will start, because he was out for three months, so he needs another slightly longer spell as a substitute first," he said. 

"I've always said Dybala is an important player and unfortunately I haven't had him at my disposal very much this season. Let's look at the present, because that is more important than the future.

"He still has a year left on his contract, so we will have him here next season. Dybala is a player who makes the difference. 

"I do hope to be able to use Ronaldo, Alvaro Morata and Dybala together at some point. I can say it's probable Dejan Kulusevski will start tomorrow."

Franck Ribery made a public apology to his Fiorentina team-mates after the veteran French star was sent off for the seventh time in his club career.

The former Bayern Munich winger, who turns 38 on Wednesday, was dismissed by referee Fabio Maresca after going in studs-up on Davide Zappacosta during Saturday's Serie A clash away to Genoa.

That incident occurred in the 51st minute, with the teams locked at 1-1, and Fiorentina held on as the match finished without any further goals.

Fiorentina and Genoa lurk in lower mid-table, with both sides looking to banish the distant threat of relegation after the international break.

Ribery, who in 2012-13 beat Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to win UEFA's Men's Player of the Year award, recognised he let down his Viola team-mates.

"Guys, I'm sorry I left you alone," he wrote on Twitter. "I didn't want to go in badly and I have already apologised. You fought to the end and you were very brave and careful. Keep going like this!"

Ribery joined Fiorentina on a two-year deal after being released by Bayern in 2019 and was sent off against Lazio early in his Serie A career. He had been dismissed four times for Bayern and once when playing for Marseille.

An ankle injury meant Ribery missed a large chunk of his debut season in Italy, when he scored three goals and had three assists in 21 games.

There have been flashes of his best in the current campaign, in which he has scored twice and had five assists in 23 appearances so far, also hitting the woodwork twice.

However, the number of chances he has created has dipped from 35 last season to 26 this term, despite spending 197 more minutes on the pitch, and his dribble success rate has also fallen, shrinking from 59.55 to 52.63 per cent.

Antonio Conte believes Inter's hard work is paying off as they target a first Serie A title since the 2009-10 season.

The Nerazzurri sealed a fifth consecutive top-flight win on Sunday, with goals from Romelu Lukaku, Matteo Darmian and Alexis Sanchez securing a 3-0 victory over Genoa at San Siro.

It was Inter's sixth straight top-flight win against Genoa without conceding a single goal – the first time they have achieved this against any opponent in the competition.

The result moved them seven points clear of Milan at the Serie A summit, although Stefano Pioli's side had the chance to rein them in with victory over Roma later on Sunday.

Conte was pleased with his side's display and said his players deserve recognition for being this season's standard-bearers ahead of Juventus, who have won the last nine titles.

"We played against a Genoa side in great shape," Conte told Sky Sport Italia.

"We had the right approach, allowing Genoa little other than a few crosses. We scored three goals, [Genoa goalkeeper] Mattia Perin had to make several big saves, so we are happy.

"All the work is paying off. It had already started to last year, but the team is developing belief in its capabilities, understanding the situations both on and off the ball, when to be aggressive, when to hold possession.

"These are Inter players, they must always have the ambition to win. It has been many years since Inter won anything, we came very close last season [they finished one point behind Juve], despite the fact it was my first year.

"In previous years, the gap with Juventus was a good 15 points for Inter. So, if we want to be objective and calculate the gap from the leaders and Inter before I arrived, last season was already an enormous step forward.

"I think we simply continued the project and we are doing something important, but there are 14 games to go.

"We have to continue like this, knowing the team have grown in every way, that we created wonderful synergy and empathy between everyone here, but winning is the aim."

Inter endured a disappointing Champions League campaign earlier this term, finishing bottom of Group B having won just one of their six games.

Conte believes that disappointment could well have provided the impetus for their Serie A title challenge, acknowledging it forced them to raise their game.

"I think we went out of the Champions League undeservedly, but that made us look inside ourselves and realise we all had to raise the bar, to be more competitive," he added.

"If we had been in the Champions League right now, I think we could've had our say in that tournament."

Inter travel to Parma in Serie A on Thursday before hosting Atalanta four days later.

Inter's Serie A title charge remains on course after goals from Romelu Lukaku, Matteo Darmian and Alexis Sanchez sealed a 3-0 win over Genoa at San Siro on Sunday. 

Belgium international Lukaku set them on their way to a fifth consecutive top-flight win with a goal inside the opening minute. 

Antonio Conte's side largely dominated proceedings thereafter, with Nicolo Barella striking the crossbar, and they wrapped up all three points in the second period through Darmian and Sanchez.

The result moved them seven points ahead of second-placed Milan, although Stefano Pioli's side can rein them back in with victory over Roma later on Sunday.

Inter started in blistering fashion, Lukaku firing into Mattia Perin's bottom-right corner from just outside the penalty area after 32 seconds – Inter's second-fastest Serie A goal since Opta started tracking such data in 2004-05.

Darmian clipped wide after 14 minutes, while Barella hit the bar with a long-range effort soon after.

Perin then kept out Lukaku's powerful strike shortly after the half-hour mark as Inter ultimately failed to double their advantage before the interval.

The hosts put the result beyond doubt in the 69th minute when Darmian lashed home his first Serie A goal for the club from 12 yards after being picked out by Lukaku. 

Substitute Sanchez then added gloss to the scoreline 13 minutes from full-time, heading in from close range after Lukaku's effort had been repelled by Perin. 

 

 

 

Antonio Conte acknowledges he has become a "pain in the a**" as he attempts to guide Inter to their first trophy in a decade.

Ahead of hosting Genoa on Sunday, Inter top Serie A after 23 games – their derby victory over Milan last week moving them four points clear of their city and title rivals.

Inter – who finished second in Serie A behind Juventus in Conte's debut season – last won a trophy in 2010-11, clinching their seventh Coppa Italia trophy.

The Nerazzurri have already seen two opportunities for silverware slip from their grasp this campaign, finishing bottom of their Champions League group and exiting the Coppa Italia in the semi-finals.

With Milan facing a tough trip to Roma and Juve further off the pace, Inter have the chance to consolidate their lead at the top when they hunt a ninth straight home win in Serie A.

It is a feat that only Juve and Roma have managed in the last 10 seasons.

Conte has not shied away from questioning not only his own players but also Inter's hierarchy, yet the former Italy coach believes his rather decisive style is what has helped transform Inter back into title contenders.

"When people talk about me, there is always a 'but'. They say: 'He is a good coach, but…', that 'but' stimulates me," Conte told Il Corriere Della Sera.

"Football is my passion. When I ended my career as a footballer, I started from the beginning with Arezzo. I had won everything as a footballer. Coach Conte had started from zero. Those who played in big clubs think they can be coaches, but it's different.

"An opponent would have pushed for Conte to be kicked out of Inter. As an opponent, I would want to kill my enemy, in a sporting [sense]. 

"I'm more prepared thanks to my experiences. I was advised not to join Inter, but I like challenges, and this one is the most difficult in my career.

"It's hard to change that mental chip. If you don't win for 10 years, you subconsciously get used to the situation, look for excuses or blame someone else, you don't see your limitations or flaws.

"The environment is imbued with this, it is important to work not only on the players but on every sector. So you raise the pressure and become a pain in the a**.

"This is the difference between winning and living peacefully. When I go to a club, I enter into it body and soul. I am passionate and passion makes the difference, it is contagious. If you feel the sense of belonging you give more. I don't know if we will win, but we will do everything to succeed.

“A coach is happy when a project lasts long. If you must leave after a short while, it leaves bitterness. Making your mark and staying for many years is the most beautiful thing. I wish there were continuity in everything."

While his determination to end Inter's barren run is clear, Conte conceded there is one job away from club football which still entices him.

Conte managed Italy from 2014 to 2016 before leaving the role to join Chelsea, who he led to the Premier League title in 2017, and the 51-year-old is open to an Azzurri return should the possibility arise.

"Absolutely no, it gives me goosebumps to think about the national team," Conte replied when asked if his time with Italy was over for good.

"My door will always be open to Italy."

Kalidou Koulibaly tested positive for coronavirus ahead of Napoli's Coppa Italia semi-final second leg with Atalanta and Serie A meeting with Juventus.

The centre-back returned a positive result on Friday and began self-isolating ahead of Saturday's league game against struggling Genoa.

Napoli are scheduled to face Atalanta for a place in the Coppa Italia final on Wednesday and Juve – who sit two points ahead of them in fourth in Serie A – the following Saturday.

A club statement read: "After the swabs carried out this morning, Kalidou Koulibaly tested positive for COVID-19.

"The player is asymptomatic and will observe a period of self-isolation at home."

Napoli are already without Faouzi Ghoulam for their trip to Genoa after the full-back tested positive for coronavirus.

After taking on Juventus, Napoli travel to Granada for the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie on February 18.

Andrea Pirlo felt Juventus' youngsters proved they were "up to it" but said they must be more ruthless after needing extra time to beat Genoa 3-2 in the Coppa Italia.

Juve dominated Serie A strugglers Genoa in the first half at Allianz Stadium on Wednesday, the lively Dejan Kulusevski opening the scoring inside two minutes before laying on a second goal for Alvaro Morata.

Lennart Czyborra halved the deficit with a header against the run of play midway through the first half and Filippo Melegoni forced extra time with a great finish from 25 yards out.

Cristiano Ronaldo was introduced as a substitute late in normal time, but it was 21-year-old debutant Hamza Rafia who settled it late in the first period of extra time.

Radu Dragusin and Manolo Portanova were among the other young players given an opportunity by Pirlo on a night which saw a much-changed Juve side have 24 shots, 13 of which were on target, as they made hard work of setting up a quarter-final tie against Sassuolo or SPAL.

Pirlo was impressed by the Juve youngsters, but was frustrated the Serie A champions were taken to extra time ahead of a clash with Inter on Sunday.

He said: "They played a great match, I'm happy for them because they proved to be up to it. Too bad the game was complicated, we had to close it in the first half."

Pirlo added: "It happens that every now and then when we think the race is over we lose focus, thinking it's all easy, but if you don't have your head right they become complicated games. 

"As happened today when we went to extra time, we lost energy and had to finish it in the first half."

Kulusevski staked his claim for a regular starting berth, hitting the target with four of his five shots and making four key passes as he tormented Genoa in a classy performance.

Pirlo was not surprised to see the Sweden midfielder and striker Morata, starting for the first time since recovering from a thigh injury, link up so effectively.

The former Italy playmaker said: "They had a great understanding, especially in the first half when they played very close and played for each other. 

"They have been training together since the beginning of the season and they know what their characteristics are and how to look for each other and tonight they proved it."

Hamza Rafia scored the winner on his debut as Juventus needed extra time to beat Genoa 3-2 and reach the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia.

A much-changed Juve side were a cut above Serie A strugglers Genoa in the first half at Allianz Stadium on Wednesday, but made hard work of setting up a last-eight tie against Sassuolo or SPAL.

Dejan Kulusevski was outstanding in the opening 45 minutes, scoring inside two minutes and laying on a second goal for Alvaro Morata.

Lennart Czyborra pulled a goal back from out of the blue in an otherwise one-sided first half and Filippo Melegoni later equalised, but 21-year-old Tunisia international Rafia came off the bench to settle the tie late in the first half of extra time.

Paulo Dybala could be out for almost three weeks after suffering a knee injury against Sassuolo on Sunday, Juventus have confirmed.

The Argentina international was replaced by Dejan Kulusevski in the 43rd minute of Juve's 3-1 Serie A win at the Allianz Stadium.

The club confirmed on Monday he has suffered a "low-grade lesion of the medial collateral ligament" in his left knee and will be out of action for "approximately 15-20 days".

The 27-year-old looks certain to miss the Coppa Italia clash with Genoa on Wednesday, the Supercoppa Italiana against Napoli next week and Serie A games versus Inter and Bologna. He could also miss another league game against Sampdoria on January 30.

Juve's only Serie A defeat this season came when Dybala was not in the side. Their win ratio without him is 40 per cent compared to 63.6 per when he features.

When going back to the start of the 2019-20 campaign, Juve have lost as many times in the 10 league games without Dybala (four) as they have in the 44 in which he has taken part – their win percentage sliding from 72.7 to 30 in his absence.

Juve also confirmed Weston McKennie and Federico Chiesa underwent tests on Monday, which revealed neither player is suffering from a serious injury.

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