Stefano Pioli says his Milan players have a "fire burning inside" after they ensured they would end 2020 at the Serie A summit with a last-gasp 3-2 win over Lazio.

Ante Rebic's header and a penalty from Hakan Calhanoglu put the Rossoneri 2-0 up inside 17 minutes at San Siro, but the visitors roared back with goals from Luis Alberto and Ciro Immobile, who had a penalty saved prior to the Spaniard's goal.

Theo Hernandez powered home a header in stoppage time, though, restoring Milan's one-point lead at the top after neighbours Inter had temporarily leapfrogged them following a 2-1 win over Hellas Verona earlier on Wednesday.

The win was the Rossoneri's 10th in 14 league games this season and Pioli does not want his side to relent when they return to action after the mid-season break.

"We'll keep the same passion and determination," he told DAZN. "There are many young players who have room for improvement.

"We have reached our targets this year, we are the league leaders. We have a fire burning inside and we need to leave it on.

"They are all aware of their qualities and I expect to see the same things in 2021. We are not perfect. There are many things we need to solve. We can't always dominate games, it's normal. When we don't do it, we must be compact and suffer.

"We always try to win games, we did it and I am really happy. I am proud of my team, they are doing something incredible.

"Lazio have great qualities and physical skills, but we had the chances to win the game and we did it.

"They were very aggressive, our midfielders played an intense game, it was what we needed in such a difficult game."

The result means Lazio have won just once in their past 31 away games versus Milan, with boss Simone Inzaghi left frustrated by his side's inability to hold on for at least a point.

"The result is not fair, I am angry," he said. "We came here with some problems, we had a few players out of action. We deserved more. It must serve as a lesson for the future.

"We are sorry for the result. We controlled the game.

"After the equaliser, we should have paid more attention. There must be a reason why Milan haven't lost a game for a long time. The guys must take the positive aspects of this game, not the result, but we dominated.

"We should have done more to avoid Theo's goal. Luis Alberto left him too much space. I am sorry for the guys, they didn't deserve to lose."

Cristiano Ronaldo was nursing an ankle problem and could not continue as Juventus were denied victory by a last-gasp Felipe Caicedo goal in a 1-1 draw at Lazio, Andrea Pirlo said.

Portugal star Ronaldo opened the scoring after 15 minutes at Stadio Olimpico to net in his first four league games of a season for just the third time, having also done so in the 2009-10 and 2014-15 seasons.

With 27 goals to his name in 2020, no player in the top-five European leagues has more in the calendar year, but his withdrawal with 14 minutes of Sunday's clash ultimately proved a pivotal moment.

Explaining why Ronaldo, who did appear to hobble as he sat on the bench, was taken off, Juve coach Pirlo told DAZN: "Ronaldo is a key player not only for us but for all the teams where he played, he had an ankle problem and he was forced to leave.

"Those who entered the pitch did well, [but] we had problems to hold the ball and manage certain types of plays."

Ronaldo had three shots on target from five attempts and also crashed an effort against the post for a Juve side who continue to trail early leaders Milan, three points adrift of Stefano Pioli's team ahead of the Rossoneri's clash with Verona later on Sunday.

The Bianconeri are unbeaten through seven games for the eighth time in the past 10 seasons, but Pirlo warned his side that titles are decided on moments such as late levellers.

"We played a great game, they never had a shot on target," he added.

"Championships are won if we take care of every detail, we mismanaged the ball in the final 10 seconds and they scored the equaliser."

Lazio were hindered by the absence of star striker Ciro Immobile who alongside Lucas Leiva and Thomas Strakhosha was absent after they reportedly returned inconclusive tests for coronavirus.

Caicedo entered the fray to replace the largely ineffective Vedat Muriqi after 54 minutes and his stoppage-time leveller was the fifth time since the start of last season he has scored after the 90th minute – the most in Serie A.

"I have an exceptional rapport with Ciro, he wished us all the best and we missed him today, but he is always present even when he’s not physically here," Caicedo said.

"With this determination and refusal to give in, we can go far. We can continue to do what we did last season, with the attitude we showed last week against Torino and again here."

Head coach Simone Inzaghi, whose Lazio side have gained 33 points from a losing position since the start of last season which is more than any other team in the top five European leagues, paid tribute to the goal hero.

"Caicedo is a great player, a wonderful person who after five or six months was already adored by everyone," Inzaghi said.

"I asked the club, and they immediately agreed, to keep him, as he was the ideal player to complete the front line."

Lazio head coach Simone Inzaghi hailed Andreas Pereira as a "quality" player as the Manchester United midfielder nears a move to Serie A.

Reports in Italy have suggested Lazio will look to sign Pereira on loan with an option to buy, having missed out on the chance to bring in David Silva.

Pereira, who has been at United since the age of 15, has fallen down the pecking order under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the arrival of Donny van de Beek is likely to limit his first-team chances further.

It looks likely Pereira will undergo a medical in the coming days ahead of a move to the Stadio Olimpico, and Inzaghi seems excited by the prospect of his arrival.

"I know him, he's a quality player who could help us a lot," Inzaghi said on Monday, according to Tuttomercatoweb.

"Right now, I don't want to talk about players who are not ours. We're fortunate to have [sporting director Igli] Tare, who knows how to do things. We'll see if he gets it done or not."

Pereira made 40 appearances in all competitions last season, scoring two goals, but he struggled to make a consistent impact under Solskjaer.

The 24-year-old has started only four Premier League games in 2020 and just one of those, a 4-0 defeat of Norwich City in January, ended in a victory for United.

Juventus have decided their Maurizio Sarri experiment has not worked and for the second time in as many seasons the Bianconeri are on the hunt for a new head coach.

Sarri was the man chosen to succeed Massimiliano Allegri ahead of the 2019-20 campaign, an appointment that seems a lifetime ago in a season interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The former Napoli boss steered Juve to a ninth straight Serie A title, but the unconvincing nature of that triumph meant the Scudetto alone was never likely to be enough to convince the club's hierarchy Sarri would be the man to achieve the ultimate goal of winning the Champions League.

They fell short in Europe on Friday night, with Juve failing to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit to Ligue 1 side Lyon in the Champions League last 16, a 2-1 win on the night meaning they exited on the away goals ruling.

With Sarri gone, we take a look at some of the prime contenders to take over at the Italian champions.

MAURICIO POCHETTINO

An easy link, or a case of ideal timing? Pochettino has been out of work since being sacked by Tottenham in November 2019. That relationship soured towards the end but should not overshadow his achievements with Spurs, including taking them to a Champions League final. The Argentine coach was also linked with the Bianconeri a year ago, though now there is no need to negotiate a compensation package with another club. With a shorter turnaround than usual before a new season, the 48-year-old is available for Juve, should they want someone in place quickly.

SIMONE INZAGHI

Sarri was let go despite winning Serie A, but there was a period when Lazio looked like ending their Scudetto dominance. Former striker Inzaghi led the Rome side to the Coppa Italia last year and has twice thwarted Juve in the Supercoppa Italiana in his four years at the helm. Although their title challenge fell away after the restart, Inzaghi earned Lazio a spot in the Champions League proper for the first time since 2007-08.

ZINEDINE ZIDANE

In his first full season back in the Santiago Bernabeu hotseat, the France great led Real Madrid to a first LaLiga title since the 2016-17 campaign. But after being knocked out of the Champions League last 16 by Manchester City and with Madrid's reputation for chaos, Zidane's future is perhaps not 100 per cent locked in. It would still be a huge surprise to see Zidane depart the Spanish capital, though if he did, perhaps a return to Juve – where he starred in his playing days before joining Madrid – may be tempting. With three straight Champions League wins to his name from 2016 to 2018, his proven pedigree may appeal to Juve who are so desperate to land Europe's most coveted prize.

ANTONIO CONTE

Could Juventus turn to the man who sparked their run of nine successive Serie A titles? A once mighty midfield force for the Bianconeri, coach Conte led Juventus to three straight Scudetti before leaving to become Italy boss in 2014. After spells with the Azzurri and Chelsea, Conte has wound up at Inter, so it might take an audacious raid on their Serie A rivals for Juventus to be reunited with their former boss. Yet amid mixed fortunes in his first year at San Siro, there are some who think Conte could be on the lookout for a new job sooner rather than later.

PAULO SOUSA

A double winner with Juve in 1994-95 and a member of the team that won the Champions League a season later, Sousa has the advantage of a prior connection with the club but should be considered an outside shot. He has enjoyed a nomadic coaching career that has included stops at Leicester City, Swansea City, Basel and Fiorentina but has failed to inspire in his current post at Bordeaux, where his win percentage is just 30.2.

Will Manchester United sign Jadon Sancho or not?

That is the question dominating headlines as United reportedly negotiate with Borussia Dortmund.

This transfer saga is one to watch.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED READY TO END SANCHO PURSUIT

Manchester United are threatening to walk away from a deal to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to reports in England.

Sancho has been tipped to swap Dortmund for United, with Bild claiming a lucrative five-year contract has been agreed as the Bundesliga outfit insist on a €120million (£108m) fee.

But Goal, Sky Sports and The Mirror say United are ready to pursue alternatives of Dortmund do not lower their demands.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Guardian reports Leicester City are trying to sign Francisco Trincao from Barcelona. Leicester have proposed a two-season loan deal with an obligation to buy for £45m (€50m). Trincao is preparing to link up with Barca after the LaLiga giants signed the 20-year-old from Braga in January.

- Premier League champions Liverpool are eyeing a move for Norwich City left-back  Jamal Lewis, says The Mirror. Lewis impressed in 2019-20 as Norwich were relegated and Liverpool are looking to wrap up a £10m deal.

- Gianluca Di Marzio claims Tottenham right-back Serge Aurier is open to joining Serie A side Milan.

- According to Tuttomercatoweb, Juventus are lining up possible replacements for under-fire head coach Maurizio Sarri. Former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi, Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini and Luciano Spalletti have all been linked.

-  Aston Villa are aiming to keep star captain and rumoured United target Jack Grealish by offering a new contract, reports The Sun.

- Linked with United , Everton and Napoli, France Bleu Nord claims Arsenal are leading the race for Lille centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes.

- Is Federico Chiesa set for Old Trafford? La Nazione reports United have made a €55m (£49m) offer for the Fiorentina forward, who has also been linked to Inter, Juve and Chelsea .

- Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake is poised to complete his move to Manchester City. Fabrizio Romano reports there is a total agreement and a medical will take place in the next couple of days.

Simone Inzaghi acknowledged Lazio's Serie A title chances have been dealt a blow after losing 3-0 to Milan but insisted the Scudetto hopefuls will not give up.

Lazio were comprehensively beaten by visiting Milan in Rome on Saturday as Inzaghi's men fell seven points adrift of leaders and defending champions Juventus.

Without leading goalscorer Ciro Immobile and Felipe Caicedo due to suspension, Lazio's Scudetto dream was derailed by Hakan Calhanoglu, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ante Rebic at Stadio Olimpico – Milan leading 2-0 at half-time.

Lazio – eyeing their first league crown since 2000 – face an uphill battle overhauling Juve with eight matches remaining in 2019-20, while Inter could move within a point of second spot by beating Bologna on Sunday.

"This defeat weighs on us in the table, but we knew that there were some objective difficulties today," Lazio head coach Inzaghi told DAZN. "We weren't very fortunate either, as we conceded a goal with a deflection, another on a penalty that Thomas Strakosha almost saved.

"Then we had two chances to get it back on track, only to concede the third goal. Unfortunately, I can't rotate the squad right now, so playing four games in under two weeks becomes difficult.

"We've got to look forward and prepare for the next match. We know the journey we have taken and have no intention of letting go. We'll probably lose [Joaquin] Correa to injury for the next one, we must try to rotate a little, because these lads are now very tired."

"Correa has been struggling with a calf problem for a few weeks," added Inzaghi. "If Caicedo and Immobile weren't suspended, he wouldn't have played today. Lucas Leiva had his first appearance today after just 25 minutes of training. We only made the decision after a fitness test this morning.

"Bobby Adekanye hadn't played for 25 days either, [Sergej] Milinkovic-Savic and Correa told me they weren't feeling right. It was difficult against Milan in these circumstances. Even then I have to think we could’ve got back into it at 2-1.

"Initially, Luis Alberto was meant to be in support of Correa, but we were lacking a physical presence and hadn't really used this tactic without Immobile. If we'd had Adekanye in training during the week, I probably would've started him, as he is at least a centre-forward."

It was a return to form for Milan, who faced defeat before rallying to earn a 2-2 draw at relegation-threatened SPAL last time out.

Milan – with Ibrahimovic back in the line-up – dominated against Lazio as they stayed on track to qualify for the Europa League next season.

"We work really well at Milanello, I always said that I had a group of responsible players who are aware of the importance of the shirt they are wearing," said Milan boss Stefano Pioli, who is tipped to be replaced by Ralf Rangnick at the end of the campaign. "I don't know what will happen with our future, with my future, but we are too concentrated on fighting to the end so we can at least get Milan back into the Europa League.

"We won't get the Champions League now, but Milan are a prestigious club and have to be in European competition.

"The players are continuing to give 110 per cent, even those who signed contracts to the end of the season and probably won't remain here after that. They are determined to prove they are still strong players at this level and to give their best for Milan."

Ibrahimovic, who has recovered from a calf injury, converted a first-half penalty to take his tally to five goals since returning to Milan from LA Galaxy in January.

"Ibra has allowed us to grow in terms of mentality, quality, technique, it's a real pleasure to work with him and see how he deals with his team-mates," added Pioli, whose Milan host Juve on Tuesday. "Now we've got a month left and can continue pushing all the way."

Milan will be without Samu Castillejo when they take on a Lazio team missing suspended duo Felipe Caicedo and Ciro Immobile on Saturday.

Castillejo suffered a hamstring injury during the 2-2 draw with SPAL on Wednesday and will undergo further evaluation in a week, meaning the Spanish winger will also miss the upcoming home game against Juventus.

His absence is a further blow for Milan coach Stefano Pioli after seeing his team drop two points against a side sitting in the relegation zone in midweek, hardly ideal preparations for a meeting with opponents occupying second spot in the table.

Lazio are hindered themselves by both top-scorer Immobile and fellow forward Caicedo missing the Stadio Olimpico clash. However, Pioli is aware of the dangers posed by Joaquin Correa, as he scored the decisive goal in a 2-1 win over Milan back in November.

"Lazio are strong, they come from two important comebacks," Pioli told the media on Friday. "Immobile and Caicedo will be missed, but they have Correa. It will be a very complex game, especially from a tactical point of view.

"We are a different team [from the last meeting], many things have changed. We will have to be compact, smart and understand the key moments of the game.

"Lazio are a complete team. They are strong, but we also have to have confidence in ourselves."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his first appearance since the Italian season resumed during the game with SPAL, coming on as a 65th-minute substitute on his return from injury.

The Swedish striker could be set to play a greater part in proceedings against Lazio, Pioli revealed.

Asked about Ibrahimovic's fitness, he replied: "Maybe he doesn't know how many minutes he has in his legs. His condition will improve playing, on Thursday he did a good workout. I hope I can put more minutes in his legs on Saturday."

Lazio have rallied after falling behind to beat Fiorentina and Torino in their previous two league outings, leaving them four points behind leaders Juve in the title race.

"We are getting used to living with problems during this period," Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi told the media. "I'm convinced the team can play an excellent game regardless of formation and players.

"These guys are having a great season, I'm proud to be their coach. There are seven games left in the championship, we must take one game at a time."

Simone Inzaghi admitted the Serie A title was "a little bit far" for Lazio after their loss to Atalanta on Wednesday.

Lazio gave up a two-goal lead as their 21-game unbeaten league run came to an end with a 3-2 loss in Bergamo.

The loss dealt a huge blow to Lazio's chances of winning a first league title since 2000 as they were left four points behind leaders Juventus.

Inzaghi accepted winning Serie A looked difficult, but the Lazio head coach is not giving up on his team's chances.

"This is what the table says," he told a news conference.

"[The title] is now a little bit far, but we have 11 games, 33 points and we have to win again.

"Saturday will be a tough match against Fiorentina but we will prepare it at our best."

A Marten de Roon own goal and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic's strike inside 11 minutes had Lazio in control.

Robin Gosens reduced the deficit for Atalanta before goals from Ruslan Malinovskiy and Jose Luis Palomino saw the fourth-placed hosts to their win.

Simone Inzaghi is eager to restart the Serie A season amid the coronavirus pandemic after his Lazio side's "extraordinary" progress.

Lazio were just a point behind leaders Juventus, with both having played 26 games, when the campaign was suspended in March due to COVID-19.

Inzaghi hopes the season can get back underway, with a decision set to be made on Thursday.

"We are happy to start again. It is the wish that we finish the championship in favour of all the people who work in football and for the fans," the Lazio head coach told Rai 2 on Sunday.

"The prerequisites are there. We coaches have all felt we want to start again safely.

"Regardless of the ranking, before the pandemic we were doing something extraordinary."

The Bundesliga is the only one of Europe's top five leagues to restart, while LaLiga is set to resume next month, Ligue 1 has been cancelled and the Premier League is also bidding to get back underway.

Inzaghi is hopeful over Serie A, even if a positive case of coronavirus is found at a club.

"In our sports centres, we are in total safety, there are distances, we are checked every day. From tomorrow, we will return to group training," he said.

"There is a desire to start again. A positive in the team? I don't know, it hasn't happened yet. We are waiting for the protocol to understand what to do.

"As Germany did, we hope to start again. Once a case is found, the subject will be isolated and the game should be played back at least a week later."

Ciro Immobile compared Lazio head coach Simone Inzaghi to Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, while the Italy star revealed his Napoli dream.

Inzaghi's Lazio were only a point behind defending champions and leaders Juventus through 26 games when Serie A was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Lazio have also tasted Coppa Italia (2019) and Supercoppa Italiana (2017 and 2019) success under Inzaghi, who was appointed in 2016.

Immobile worked with Klopp during the pair's time together at Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund in 2014-15 and the Lazio striker heaped praise on the German and Inzaghi.

"Klopp is a great expert in football and I always said that I'd have liked to work with him when I was in my best form. He is a complete coach, he has everything," Immobile said on Instagram Live chat with Er Faina.

"Having said that, he really reminds me of Simone Inzaghi, as they are very similar in their motivational skills, albeit in slightly different ways."

Immobile had scored an incredible 27 Serie A goals this season when the campaign was postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis.

With 12 games left to play, Immobile is nearing Gonzalo Higuain's record of 36 goals in a single Serie A season, set with Napoli in 2015-16.

Immobile has flourished since returning to Italy via Lazio in 2016 and the 30-year-old addressed previous links to hometown club Napoli and Liverpool as he addressed his future.

"I was close to Napoli and it's true that I did hope to one day play for them, but I am so happy here that after arriving at Lazio, I stopped thinking about it," Immobile said.

"I don't know if I'll end my career here. Perhaps by the time I am 33, Lazio will be so successful that they need more important players than me. I don't like to be a burden on anyone. I'll keep giving my all for this jersey as long as I can.

"Inzaghi is certainly the coach I got along best with. We had that brief discussion when I reacted angrily to a substitution, but he dealt with it the right way. I know him and he knows me."

After dominating European football for over a decade, could Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo shelve their rivalry and come together as team-mates?

David Beckham might be the man to make it happen.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder appears to have ambitious plans for his new MLS franchise.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI, RONALDO WANTED AT INTER MIAMI

Barcelona captain Messi, 32, and Juventus talisman Ronaldo, 35, will end their careers on the same side if Inter Miami co-owner Beckham gets his wish, according to the Mirror.

The newspaper claims the new MLS outfit are "already thinking big" and could look to lure football's two biggest superstars to the United States.

LA Galaxy have also been linked with a move for Messi but Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath believes Beckham's pulling power has the potential to create a dream attacking duo.

“For Ronaldo and Messi, the two obvious destinations if they came to the MLS would be Los Angeles and Miami," Heath told the Mirror.

"And, with his links to both players and the plan Beckham and his backers have in place, I can really only see them going to Miami."

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United are set to launch a £50million bid for Wolves forward Diogo Jota, scorer of a Europa League hat-trick on Thursday, reports the Express.

- United have also been linked with Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham but the Red Devils are set to face competition from Liverpool, according to the Daily Star.

- Serie A leaders Juventus are at the front of the queue for Paul Pogba but Paris Saint-Germain also hope to land the French star, reports Le10 Sport.

- PSG, meanwhile, are planning for life after Thomas Tuchel, who is said to be in talks with Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich. L'Equipe claims the Ligue 1 champions could look to replace him with either Massimiliano Allegri or Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi.

- Premier League clubs Sheffield United, Wolves and Burnley are showing interest in Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips, suggests the Sun.

Simone Inzaghi thinks Lazio are still lacking something that would help them maintain a Serie A title challenge despite setting a new club record with 10 successive league victories on Saturday.

It was by no means plain-sailing for Lazio as Napoli came to Stadio Olimpico, as the visitors managed to frustrate Inzaghi's men for a long time.

But Napoli goalkeeper David Ospina was robbed by Ciro Immobile in the 82nd minute after failing to release the ball, and the Italy striker subsequently converted for his 20th Serie A goal of the season from the tight angle.

That sealed Lazio a 10th league win in a row, setting a new club record after equalling the previous one in a 2-1 victory at Brescia last weekend.

Lazio remain within touching distance of the top two, though Inzaghi is not putting pressure on his team for a title push.

When asked if Lazio are missing anything, Inzaghi told Sky Sport Italia: "A little, I have to be honest. 

"It will take a bit of luck that has been missing in the past few years. We have come close to our objectives before and missed something right at the end, like missing out on the Champions League in the last game.

"I also must be good at involving everyone. I need everyone, we hope everyone is at 100 per cent.

"The club is vigilant and the conversations [about transfers] are daily. We will see if there will be an opportunity to improve, and in that situation we could do something, but these guys have given a lot and January is never easy."

Lazio's winning run began with a 2-1 win at Fiorentina on October 27 and has included wins over Milan, Torino and Juventus, among others.

Lazio's 2-1 victory at Brescia levelled the club's record for successive Serie A wins at nine.

Mario Balotelli put the struggling hosts in front on Sunday, but the game turned before half-time when Andrea Cistana was dismissed after fouling Felipe Caicedo in the box, with Ciro Immobile converting the resulting penalty.

Serie A's top scorer then struck the winner in the first minute of added time, Immobile taking his tally for the season to 18 in the league.

The last time a player was so prolific at this stage of a Serie A season was back in 1959, when Antonio Valentin Angelillo was in fine form for Inter.

Lazio won nine games in a row during the 1998-99 season under Sven-Goran Eriksson, but they narrowly missed out on the title to Milan.

Victory at Brescia moved Lazio within three points of the top two sides in Serie A, Inter and Juventus.

Lazio will need to be perfect if they are to overcome familiar foes Juventus and lift the Supercoppa Italiana, according to Simone Inzaghi.

The meeting between the reigning Serie A champions and the holders of the Coppa Italia takes place in Riyadh on Sunday, with the top-flight rivals doing battle in the one-off contest for a fourth time in seven years.

Lazio won the previous Supercoppa clash in 2017, while they are also the only opponents to defeat Maurizio Sarri's team this season, overturning a first-half deficit to prevail 3-1 at the Stadio Olimpico at the start of the month.

However, while they can take confidence from that recent result, head coach Inzaghi is well aware of the size of the task for his players at the King Saud University Stadium.

"We are facing a team that has a great amount of capacity, intensity, and quality. I have told my team that we must remain concentrated," Inzaghi told the media.

"It won't be like a league game. You play for a trophy in one night. You can't make any mistakes because you have two teams that can hurt each other at any time.

"Juventus have great qualities. We will have to be very focused. In the league game, we conceded just the one goal.

"There is obviously no certainty of winning. We have confidence in our work. We face a team that has won the last eight league titles, so we will need the perfect game."

Cristiano Ronaldo scored for Juve in the most recent clash with Lazio, the Portugal forward's strike part of a productive December in terms of goals.

The 34-year-old was on target twice last weekend against Udinese before producing a sensational headed finish in the midweek win over Sampdoria, with that result putting them three points clear of Inter at the top of the table.

"He is a champion who can change the game at any time," Inzaghi said of Ronaldo.

"We have to be on guard, knowing that, on paper, Juve have greater potential. However, all that matters is what happens on the pitch."

Juan Cuadrado was wrongly sent off as Juventus lost 3-1 away to Lazio in Serie A on Saturday, according to Maurizio Sarri.

The Bianconeri coach saw his side lose for the first time since his arrival despite Cristiano Ronaldo's goal putting the champions in front at the Stadio Olimpico.

Luiz Felipe headed Lazio's equaliser before the turning point of the match, Cuadrado seeing red after bringing down Manuel Lazzari as he ran through on goal.

Referee Michael Fabbri initially opted to book Cuadrado but then changed the yellow card to red after consulting pitchside monitors, and Lazio made the most of their man advantage.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic brilliantly scored from Luis Alberto's lofted pass, and Felipe Caicedo struck deep in added time to secure Lazio's first home league win over Juve since 2003.

"We didn't respect our duties, because players were in the wrong position," Sarri told DAZN of the incident leading to Cuadrado's dismissal. "It was a distraction and you pay for that.

"We had decided before the game on certain positions and we didn't cover them.

"I do not entirely agree that it was a clear scoring opportunity, as the ball was going wide. I thought a yellow card was the right ruling, but the fact remains that is out of our control and we made a mistake to create the situation."

Sarri, who said Rodrigo Bentancur needs tests on a ligament injury, felt there were positives to take from Juve's performance despite a second straight league game without a win.

"In the second half, when the game seemed to be in a more balanced state, the red card changed everything," he said. "We lost the match, but, to be honest, I saw improvements in my team."

Lazio have won seven games in a row in Serie A and are only five points behind leaders Inter, prompting suggestions they could be in the title race.

They last won the league 20 years ago, and coach Simone Inzaghi feels topping the table may be a realistic target for his impressive side.

"We are in a great period of form," he told DAZN. "We should be ambitious, knowing also that six weeks ago people said we weren't getting results but I remained calm.

"The club was always close to me, even when we lost, reassuring me there were no problems.

"I also have a squad that is always at the disposal of my staff and I. Now we enjoy this victory, which we hadn't managed for 16 years here, a game I remember, because I was on the bench.

"We enjoy it for a few hours, but from Thursday we must get right back on track and aim to stay in the Europa League. We played well, created many chances and could have scored more goals, so I praise these lads for something extraordinary."

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