Jose Mourinho said he was "ashamed" by the officiating of Roma's 1-1 Serie A draw at Napoli, believing the hosts should have conceded a penalty and had a man sent off.

Mourinho also appeared to suggest teams fighting for the Serie A title were being favoured by officials in a post-match outburst, after Stephan El Shaarawy's last-minute goal sealed a valuable point for the Giallorossi.

Roma trailed for 80 minutes in Naples after Lorenzo Insigne netted his eighth penalty of the season, the highest tally among players in Europe's top five leagues this season.

But El Shaarawy's 91st-minute strike kept Roma within five points of fourth-placed Juventus, and represented the winger's third last-minute goal of the Serie A season, more than any other player.

Mourinho, however, vented his frustration at the officials.

"There are teams that play to win the Scudetto, we don't," Mourinho told DAZN. "But we still have the right to play to win games, regardless of the opponent we face, whether it's a team fighting for the Scudetto or one already relegated. 

"Today it seemed that we did not have the right to play to win. [VAR] Mr Di Paolo, not to mention [referee] Mr Di Bello made me feel ashamed at least twice, the red to [Napoli defender Alessandro] Zanoli which was not given, and for the penalty not given to [Roma attacker Nicolo] Zaniolo. 

"Luckily they [the officials] found nothing in our goal to nullify it. But enough, I ask for a little respect. 

"Unfortunately, we weren't good at the beginning [of the season] and now we cannot fight to win the Scudetto, but I want to have the right to play to win games."

Mourinho celebrated wildly when El Shaarawy equalised, and expressed his pride at Roma extending their unbeaten run to 12 Serie A matches.

"I rejoiced at El Shaarawy's goal because during the match it seemed impossible to get out of here with a positive result," Mourinho said.

"We played very well, and we grew during the game. My team was fantastic, these guys fill me with pride. After Thursday's game [against Bodo/Glimt in the Europa Conference League] the field today looked like Everest to us. But great quality, character, incredible physical and mental condition. We wanted more, but we did what we could."

For Napoli, the last-gasp leveller represented a severe blow to their hopes of a first Scudetto since the Diego Maradona era, and head coach Luciano Spalletti conceded that a return of one point from their last two matches was not up to scratch.

Spalletti, though, drew attention to Mourinho's behaviour on the touchline. 

"From the first minute I tell my bench to behave well," Spelletti said. "Even today, we have all been seated on the bench. 

"Other teams seem to play at home, they jump on everyone, I'm not just talking about Roma, I'm talking in general. We sit down and let the referees do the work they have to do."

Napoli and Roma have drawn both their matches in a single Serie A campaign for the first time since the 1994-95 season, having played out a goalless draw last October.

Carlo Ancelotti says he feels "lucky" to coach Real Madrid, and claimed that former Los Blancos boss Jose Mourinho can make history at Roma.

Ancelotti's Madrid side clinched a dramatic 3-2 win over Sevilla on Sunday to move 15 points clear at the top of LaLiga, and seem all but certain to be crowned champions with second-placed Barcelona having just eight games to play.

Madrid have also advanced from thrilling Champions League ties against Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea in the second half of the campaign, and will face Manchester City for a place in European football's showpiece event.

Ancelotti left Everton to join Madrid for a second spell in charge, and is thrilled with how his return has unfolded so far.

"The magic of this club, of the team and of these players is coming out," Ancelotti said. "I can say I'm a lucky coach. 

"I'm coaching a team that I feel a lot and that gives me great satisfaction, [at] a very well organised club. It is I who have to thank Real Madrid for giving me the opportunity to return to coaching this team.

"Real Madrid have the possibilities for history, tradition and quality to compete until the end. Now we have a very tough challenge against City. It was very tough also against PSG and Chelsea.

"The new rule that the away goal no longer counts as double makes these challenges more balanced and exciting."

Ancelotti was also asked about the club's potential acquisition of Kylian Mbappe, with the striker widely tipped to swap Paris for Madrid at the end of his contract.

I will say that the future of this club, thanks to president [Florentino] Perez, is of the highest level," he added.

And it will also be in the next few years, regardless of the players who may come. Real Madrid made football history and will continue to do so for many more years."

Turning to Serie A, Ancelotti believes Mourinho is on the right track to succeed with Roma after difficult spells at Tottenham and Manchester United.

Ancelotti said: "I think Mourinho has given back enthusiasm to a team that needed it.

"[They have done] extraordinary work thanks to his qualities. I think Mourinho can be an important piece in the history of Roma."

Roma are in the hunt for Champions League qualification in Serie A, while they will face Leicester City for a place in the final of the Europa Conference League.

 

The joined actions of some of the most powerful figures in modern football unwittingly created an ever mightier alliance on April 18, 2021.

The announcement of a new European Super League united Manchester, with fans and players of United and City joining those invested in the fortunes of Liverpool and the three London giants of Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham in opposition.

Although the reaction in Italy and Spain may not have been quite as damning, the protests that followed over the course of an extraordinary few days were enough to derail the plans.

A year on, Stats Perform looks back on one of the most controversial proposals in the sport's history and where it stands now.

What is/was the European Super League?

The past week has shown exactly what makes the Champions League great, whether Villarreal's upset of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid withstanding Chelsea's fightback, a thriller between Liverpool and Benfica in a tie widely considered over or the blood and thunder of Manchester City's defeat of Atletico Madrid.

But Arsenal and Tottenham did not qualify for the Champions League this season, while Barcelona and Milan failed to make it beyond the group stage.

In another season, another superpower – the clubs whose names and riches have made the Champions League what it is – might miss out on these great games.

That was the fear of a dozen leading sides, anyway. Barca had a prominent role, along with Real Madrid and Juventus, as the European Super League was launched.

The competition was to be backed by United States-based investment bank JP Morgan and managed by the owners of the founding clubs, who would be guaranteed entry to the competition.

Three clubs were hoped to join the initial 12, followed by five others qualifying each year to form a 20-team tournament, which would be split into two 10-team leagues prior to a knockout stage.

The idea was for the Super League to replace the lucrative Champions League, rather than domestic leagues – hence its inception on the eve of Champions League reforms. The interested parties even claimed the money raised would benefit "the wider football pyramid".

But the reception was widely critical, while there were notable absentees in the form of Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich, the previous campaign's Champions League finalists.

PSG had spent too much time – and, of course, money – establishing themselves among European football's elite to risk it all in the breakaway.

Meanwhile, Bayern, like most German clubs, are partly fan-owned. And it would soon become clear football fans in general were not enthused by the prospect of seeing Europe's best teams slog it out in a closed-shop tournament.

Then what?

The 12 clubs must have imagined some sort of response, but what followed appeared to stun those involved.

Their own players and coaches announced opposition, with many frustrated these plans had provided such a distraction at a key stage in the season. Notably, Jurgen Klopp fumed when Leeds United, Liverpool's next opponents, told the six-time European champions to "earn it" if they wanted to play in the Champions League.

The rest of football appeared united against those who had sought to cut loose, as former Manchester United captain Gary Neville called for the Old Trafford club to be relegated along with Liverpool and Arsenal.

Unsurprisingly, UEFA, FIFA and even the UK government railed against the Super League, too.

But most importantly, the fans – particularly in England – made clear they would not stand for this apparent betrayal of the sport and its roots.

Chelsea were the first team to back out of the European Super League while Petr Cech attempted to negotiate with furious supporters blocking the team's entrance to Stamford Bridge prior to a drab goalless draw against Brighton and Hove Albion.

With protests following at stadiums up and down the country, the Premier League clubs soon quit the breakaway competition, and they were joined by Inter, Milan and Atletico Madrid, as the Super League was declared dead mere hours after its birth.

Football had won, it was widely acknowledged.

And they all lived happily ever after?

Well, not quite. Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus have continued to pursue the European Super League, their owners refusing to relent.

The huge debts racked up during the coronavirus pandemic contributed to their desperation to land this lucrative deal, with Barca since forced to let club legend Lionel Messi leave on a free transfer due to their inability to afford a new contract for the 34-year-old.

Those who backed out of the controversial plans have at least returned to the European Club Association, in which PSG were huge beneficiaries of their reluctance to follow their elite rivals. Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the PSG president, now leads the ECA in a role that previously belonged to Juve chief Andrea Agnelli.

But even Barca, Madrid and Juve have been able to continue playing in UEFA competitions – those they have qualified for, anyway. Madrid have made the Champions League semi-finals as they bid for a record-extending 14th European crown.

And sceptics could be forgiven for wondering if the new Champions League format sounds a little 'European Super Leaguey'.

As of 2024-25, the group stages will be no more, replaced by – yes – a league. And although the competition is increasing in size to 36 teams, two of the additional four slots are reserved for clubs who have the highest UEFA coefficients but have qualified only for one of the organisation's lesser competitions.

Barca, who toiled in the early stages of this season, or Juve, facing a fight for a top-four finish in Serie A, would have to slump significantly not to be assured of a seat at the time.

The Super League is dead... but long live the Super League?

Simone Inzaghi thinks Inter's recent struggles against rivals Milan will act as extra motivation ahead of their Coppa Italia semi-final second leg.

Inter face Serie A leaders Milan on Tuesday, bidding for a first appearance in the Coppa Italia final since they defeated Palermo to lift the trophy in 2011.

Inter, however, have failed to win any of the three previous derby encounters this season, picking up just a single point in their two league meetings before drawing the first leg of the semi-final 0-0.

Three winless derbies marks Inter's worst such run against the Rossoneri since 2005, but Inzaghi believes the Nerazzurri can use those results to give them an edge this time.

"We've had three derbies so far, two in the league and one in the Coppa Italia," Inzaghi told a news conference.

"We know we have to [win], and we want to win tomorrow because we want to reach the final.

"We could've got more [from the previous games]. We needed to be sharper to make key moments go our way, as they can be pivotal. It's such an important game.

"Certainly [the results could motivate Inter]. The three derbies have all been different. We played very well in the first two, whereas the two teams cancelled each other out in the last one, knowing that there was a second leg to come.

"That was a very cagey game. The team knows that, and we know it's a wonderful chance for us, which we want to grab with both hands.

"We're on track to achieve both of our targets. We're doing very well and mustn't forget that we also won the Italian Super Cup in January."

Inter have been eliminated in each of their last four Coppa Italia semi-final ties, having progressed on six of their previous seven appearances at this stage. Overall, no team has suffered more semi-final eliminations than Inter (19).

Meanwhile, Inter failed to score when classified as the away team in last month's first leg, leaving them at risk of losing on away goals if they concede.

Inzaghi believes, as is the case in UEFA competitions, that the rule should have been abolished this season.

"There had already been talk about the away goal rule before the first leg, but it was too late," he added.

"I think it should've been the same as it is in Europe, but once the decision was made, it's only fair for it to carry on in the same way [as earlier in the competition].

"We'll need to be even more focused, because as we didn't score in the first leg, every moment in the game could prove to be decisive.

"We know how important away goals could be, so we'll have to be fully focused at every point in the game, knowing that we're up against a top side. We'll need to keep focused for the full 95 minutes and for possible extra time as well."

Inter and Milan have faced off in the Coppa Italia on 26 previous occasions, with the Nerazzurri managing eight wins.

Milan's Coppa Italia semi-final against rivals Inter will not have a decisive effect on the Serie A title race, according to Stefano Pioli.

Inter trail Serie A leaders Milan by two points, though now the focus switches to the second leg of their Coppa Italia tie.

The Milan giants played out a 0-0 draw in last month's semi-final first leg at San Siro, and will do battle again on Tuesday with 10 editions of the Coppa Italia having passed since either lifted the trophy. 

While Milan will be desperate to lift Italy's domestic cup for the first time since 2003, Pioli does not believe Tuesday's result will give either team an advantage in Serie A.

"From now until the end, we need to try and win all our matches," Pioli said. "The team are very focused and motivated, and positive energy must accompany us.

"We know very well what we need to do in the league, and I don't think tomorrow's derby will be decisive in this regard. 

"We need to try and win all our Serie A games, regardless of what happens in the Coppa Italia."

Having picked up a win and a draw from the teams' Serie A encounters this term, Milan are on their longest unbeaten run against their rivals (three matches) since a 10-game sequence ending in 2005.

This is the 14th season in which Milan and Inter will face each other on four occasions, and the first since 2004-05, when Milan managed three wins and a draw. The Rossoneri have gone unbeaten throughout all four clashes on seven of the previous 13 instances, but Pioli was mindful of the threat posed by Simone Inzaghi's team.

"All of our past experiences have allowed us to become a team with more awareness," he added. "Every single one of our matches against Inter have been difficult, and the details will make the difference tomorrow.

"There will be moments where we need to put our foot on the pedal, and others where we need to slow down. Inter can be dangerous when given space, and we need to manage the ball as best we can."

Milan's pursuit of silverware has been boosted by a run of seven consecutive clean sheets in all competitions, a sequence that began with Pioli's men denying Inter an important away goal in the first leg.

"Not conceding is important," Pioli added. "I'm a bit surprised because we're a team that takes a few risks in our defending, but the whole team have grown in a significant way. We need to reach high standards when it comes to our application, intensity and focus.

"Our attitude against Inter has always been very consistent, even if it's difficult to prevent them from creating dangerous situations. They take up positions that will force us to do a lot of running, but we have a strategy that we'll try to implement as best we can."

Christopher Nkunku has long been on the various of Europe's big clubs, but this season has been a breakout.

The 24-year-old France attacker has contributed an extraordinary 17 goals and 15 assists in 30 league appearances for RB Leipzig this term.

Investcorp's reported takeover of Milan from Elliott Management, and the consequent injection of funds, has reportedly put Nkunku in Milan's sights.

 

TOP STORY – NKUNKU ON MILAN RADAR

A change in ownership is allowing Milan to go after RB Leipzig's Cristopher Nkunku, the Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting.

Milan's Scudetto charges in recent years have fallen short up front despite the quality of their midfield, but the change of ownership can dictate a change in transfer strategy.

Meetings with Sassuolo for Gianluca Scamacca and Hamed Traore could be scuppered because the likes of Nkunku would become available.

Any such moves would reportedly not rule out a transfer for Liverpool striker Divock Origi that is already in the works, however.

 

ROUND-UP

– Liverpool have identified Barcelona's 17-year-old talent Gavi as a potential target in an attempt to bolster their midfield at the end of the season, Sport is reporting.

– The Reds are also prepared to offer a new contract to Sadio Mane, whose current deal expires at the end of next season, per Football Insider.

Arsenal are interested in signing Lille's Kosovo attacker Edon Zhegrova, according to Sky Sports.

– Newcastle United have shown renewed interest in Torino defender Gleison Bremer, who is also on Arsenal and Tottenham's radar, Tuttomercato reports.

Lautaro Martinez was very close to joining Barcelona from Inter Milan two years ago.

The Blaugrana and the Argentina international had reached a personal agreement, but the financial consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic scuppered any possibility for the former to make any transfer happen.

As ever, though, circumstances in football change and according to reports, they have changed in a way that would allow Barca to finally get the Martinez deal over the line.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA IN FRAME FOR LAUTARO

Barcelona are back in the running to sign Inter's Lautaro Martinez, according to reports from Sport.

The 24-year-old is increasingly likely to leave the reigning Serie A champions, but it appears the club would be willing to lower their asking price in exchange for players as part of a package deal.

Inter have shown interest in Miralem Pjanic and Memphis Depay, two players who appear to be surplus to requirements in a rebuild under Xavi at the Catalan giants.

Martinez, who has provided 15 goals and three assists in 28 league appearances this season, is seen as a more affordable alternative to Erling Haaland and Robert Lewandowski.

 

ROUND-UP

– Liverpool are eyeing Aberdeen right-back Calvin Ramsey to provide depth for Trent Alexander-Arnold, the Sun reports.

Paris Saint-Germain are ready to part ways with Mauricio Pochettino in order to hire Zinedine Zidane as their head coach, per Le Parisien.

– Corriere dello Sport is reporting Roma would consider an offer of €60million (£49.6m) for highly-rated 22-year-old Nicolo Zaniolo, as interest from Serie A and Premier League clubs looms.

– Juventus are prepared to offer for Chelsea's Jorginho, with the Turin giants seeking to bolster their midfield next season, according to Tuttosport.

– Chelsea are willing to let 28-year-old striker Romelu Lukaku go with Inter and PSG interested, per 90Min.

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri acknowledged the Bianconeri's slim title hopes were over despite Dusan Vlahovic's dramatic late equaliser against Bologna.

The Serbian striker scored the 50th goal of his Serie A career five minutes into stoppage time to spare the blushes of the Turin giants, who were on course for an embarrassing loss despite Adama Soumaoro and Gary Medel receiving late red cards for Bologna after Marko Arnautovic's second-half opener.

The result marked the first time Juventus have failed to defeat Bologna since February 2016 and left Allegri's men eight points behind league leaders Milan with just five games remaining, as their hopes of a 10th Scudetto in 11 seasons faded.

Juventus failed to register a single shot on target during a dismal first-half showing, the fifth time they have done so during Allegri's first season back at the helm but first since facing Fiorentina in November.

The 54-year-old insisted after the draw that the Bianconeri were embroiled in a four-way battle for Champions League football rather than the title race, acknowledging his team needed to show more patience against a stubborn Bologna defence. 

"This year Juve is not fighting for the Scudetto," Allegri said. "We had gotten close to Inter, even until today, when we stopped. 

"In football, however, anything could happen. Reaching fourth place remains an important goal. I think Fiorentina have a good calendar and a direct match against us. Then there are also Lazio and Roma.

"We take one step at a time. In football you think one thing and another happens. We have to be calmer. The games last a long time and there is always time to win them."

Juventus hold a lead of six points over fifth-placed Roma in the Serie A table, having played one extra game ahead of the Giallorossi facing Napoli on Monday.

Allegri refused to criticise his team for a below-bar display, however, suggesting they would have lost the same game had it occurred at the start of the season.

"We managed to equalise a match that had become complicated after playing a bad first half," he added. "Immediately [after conceding] we hit the post and shot more on goal. 

"Lately we have conceded too many goals, we need to improve, but we would have lost these games at the beginning of the season. Let's look at the glass half full."

Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci also rued the Old Lady's lack of patience when faced with breaking down their opponents, as Bologna avoided defeat at Juventus for the first time since September 2011.

"We tried to push and put pressure on after the equaliser," the 34-year-old said. "With more clarity we could also have scored the second goal, given their numerical inferiority. 

"It was a pity because three points could have given us so much."

With Juve seemingly out of the Serie A title race, their last hope of silverware this season is the Coppa Italia, in which they host Fiorentina on Wednesday after winning their semi-final first leg 1-0.

Dusan Vlahovic netted a stoppage-time equaliser as Juventus rescued a 1-1 draw against nine-man Bologna in Turin, though the result still dealt a severe blow to their slender title hopes. 

Juve failed to create clear-cut chances during a dismal first-half display before Marko Arnautovic's goal put Bologna ahead.

Yet the match sparked into life in the final stages when Adama Soumaoro and Gary Medel both received red cards amid remarkable scenes.

Juve made their numerical advantage count when Vlahovic nodded in on the line from Alvaro Morata's acrobatic attempt to salvage a point that leaves them eight behind Serie A leaders Milan.

Cristiano Ronaldo reached the remarkable landmark of 50 hat-tricks at club level as he propelled Manchester United to victory over Norwich City.

Ronaldo, who has managed 60 trebles when his goals for Portugal are added to the count, remains an arch predator at the age of 37, and his display at Old Trafford rescued an off-key United team in Saturday's encounter with the Premier League's bottom side.

After reaching 49 club trebles by hitting three against Tottenham last month, Ronaldo brought up a half-century with a close-range strike, a header from a corner and a 25-yard free-kick.

It was his third United treble (one in 2008, two in 2022). He hit three hat-tricks with Juventus and an incredible 44 during a stellar nine-year spell at Real Madrid.

Ronaldo moved to 21 goals for the season in all competitions, going through the 20 barrier for a 16th consecutive campaign, and he now has 99 Premier League goals in his career.

His goals can be broken down further, with all three of his hat-tricks for United coming in the Premier League, while with Juventus he hit two trebles in Serie A and one in the Champions League.

During his time at Madrid, spanning 2009 to 2018, Ronaldo hit 34 hat-tricks in LaLiga, seven in the Champions League, two in the Copa del Rey and one in the FIFA Club World Cup.

He managed five goals in a LaLiga game twice for Madrid, against Granada in April 2015 and against Espanyol in September of the same year, and also plundered five four-goals hauls in the same competition.

Ronaldo also hit four for Madrid in a Champions League game against Malmo in December 2015.

Fikayo Tomori says Milan must keep their heads as they chase what would be the club's first ever Italian league and cup double.

Defender Tomori helped Milan rebound from goalless draws against Bologna and Torino by securing a 2-0 win over Genoa on Friday, and they sit top of Serie A for now.

A two-point lead over second-placed Inter comes with the caveat that Milan have played one more game than their city rivals, who they must tackle next in the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia.

That derby tie is poised at 0-0 after the first leg, with the second game coming up on Tuesday.

Milan are unbeaten in their last three games against Inter across all competitions (W1, D2), while Inter have been eliminated in each of their last four Coppa Italia semi-finals.

This is a time when players' bodies are feeling the strain of a busy season, but Tomori says he and his team-mates have a duty to stay focused on their targets on the pitch.

"The legs are important, but now it is above all a question of the head," Tomori told Sky Sport Italia.

"In Milan there is no pressure, but there are high expectations. We are close to the goal, but we must continue to work "

Milan last won the Serie A title in the 2010-11 season, and it was made clear early on to Tomori that the Scudetto would be the main target during his time at the club.

He arrived from Chelsea initially on loan in January 2021, before that became a permanent arrangement in June.

"I learned the word Scudetto straight away, I knew I was arriving in a strong and winning team," Tomori said.

With the victory over Genoa, Milan kept a sixth successive clean sheet, making Stefano Pioli only the third coach in the club's history to achieve such a feat in a single Serie A season, after Fabio Capello (twice in 1993-94: seven and nine) and Nereo Rocco (seven in 1971-72).

Asked about the upcoming Coppa Italia derby, Tomori said: "We will be ready for the match, we hope to be able to get through the round and go to the final. I hope that all the AC Milan fans will be at San Siro to give us support."

After excelling in the Champions League for Benfica, Uruguay striker Darwin Nunez has attracted interest from Newcastle United.

Darwin, who turns 23 in June, has scored 24 goals in 24 Primeira Liga games, as well as six goals in 10 Champions League appearances. No Benfica player has ever scored more goals in a single Champions League campaign.

While some of the world's biggest clubs – including Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United – are hoping to sign the breakout star, they will have to contend with an aggressive offer to bring him to St James' Park.

 

TOP STORY – NEWCASTLE MAKE £50M BID FOR DARWIN

Newcastle have been linked with all kinds of big-name signings for the upcoming transfer window, but Footmercato is reporting that they have made a £50million bid for Darwin in an effort to fend off the challenge of rival clubs.

At such a young age, he could be the kind of marquee signing the new Newcastle board can build their future side around as they also chase more experienced players, such as Christian Eriksen from Brentford on a free transfer.

The Footmercato report also mentions that if Darwin is to leave, Benfica plan to replace him with Petar Musa, who is on loan at Boavista from Slavia Prague.

 

ROUND-UP

– 90min is reporting Lazio coach Maurizio Sarri is very interested in reuniting with Jorginho, as he is unlikely to be offered a new contract at Chelsea beyond 2023.

– Erik ten Hag would like to bring Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni to Manchester United when he takes over as manager, according to ESPN.

Arsenal, Leeds United and Newcastle are set to compete for the signature of Hoffenheim's Florian Grillitsch when his contract expires after this season, per the Daily Mail.

– The Sun is reporting Kalvin Phillips will reject Manchester United's advances and sign a new deal with Leeds.

Burnley are targeting Sam Allardyce to take over as manager after the sacking of Sean Dyche, per The Sun.

Stefano Pioli explained that his Milan side avoided discussing Inter's earlier win ahead of facing Genoa.

Milan claimed a 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Rafael Leao and Junior Messias in San Siro on Friday.

Their game came hot on the heels of Inter's 3-1 victory at Spezia, a result that had seen the reigning champions briefly move into top spot in Serie A.

However, Milan got the job done, winning for the first time in three games to restore their two-point advantage with five matches left, though Inter do have a game in hand.

Milan are attempting to win their first Serie A title since 2010-11 and Pioli noted that although he knew Inter had won, his side had not discussed the possible ramifications.

"I knew their result, but we didn't talk about it with the team," he told DAZN.

"We had to go back to winning. We knew that whatever happened, we would try to win every game.

"I think we had the right approach and hunger this evening, we ran very few risks and that is an important factor."

Pioli suggested it is difficult to know how to best handle the pressure of the title race, though he backs the character of his players.

He added: "We have to keep going, the tension is rising and so is the pressure. Now we have to feel the pressure as nothing but positive energy.

"Every day [in training] I am undecided whether to increase the pressure or to release it. But, I have to expect a lot from these guys because they are strong.

"We are more aware of our strength, I am pushing for this. There are few games left and we have to do well. Many of us are fighting for the Scudetto for the first time, it is a path that will help us. We want to be winning again."

Milan kept a sixth straight clean sheet, making Pioli only the third coach in the club's history to achieve such a feat in a single Serie A season, after Fabio Capello (twice in 1993-94: seven and nine) and Nereo Rocco (seven in 1971-72).

Key to that has been the form of goalkeeper Mike Maignan, who made a stunning save to deny Genoa's Hernani a consolation in stoppage time.

"We have to continue like this," Pioli said. "Maignan is incredible, he is receiving the right compliments. He must give his contribution to this young team."

Milan have picked up more than 70 points after 33 Serie A games for the first time since their last Scudetto-winning season 11 years ago.

Lautaro Martinez admits he feels irritated by constant speculation over his Inter future, after the forward helped seal a 3-1 win over Spezia on Good Friday.

The Argentine struck in the second half to help confirm a crucial three points for the Serie A champions, moving them back to the summit – temporarily at least – ahead of rivals Milan.

Yet with his contract due to expire next year, talk over an impending exit has dogged Martinez for much of the season, with the striker starting on the bench at Stadio Alberto Picco.

Speaking afterwards, Martinez acknowledged that discussion over his next move is something that bugs him, alongside accusations that he has not put the effort in during the 2021-22 season.

"People talk a lot and I don’t like it," he said. "I’ve always given my best for Inter and I don’t like certain voices.

"I try to give my all, obviously I don’t like being on the bench, but when I entered I gave my all for Inter which is what counts here.

"I have always been calm, I work for the team, to lend a hand to my teammates, I am focused on my work and I don’t listen to everything they talk about.

"I think about my family, those who love me and Inter, so I always have to give my best."

Victory for Inter – though relatively unconvincing, despite overwhelming possession, and then given a late scare by a response from the hosts – keeps them in the thick of the title race.

It will give an extra charge to an already hot derby encounter with Milan when the two sides meet in the Coppa Italia semi-finals on Tuesday.

Martinez believes Simone Inzaghi's side looked to have turned a corner after dropping crucial points earlier in the new year, and stressed that their destiny is now of their own making.

"[We're] feeling good," he added. "We are doing a great job, we have lost some important points.

"We have now recovered and have everything in our hands. The path is still long, we have to recover and think about Tuesday."

Paolo Maldini is prepared for a change of off-field leadership at Milan after it was reported the club's owners are in talks with potential buyers of the Serie A giants.

Technical director Maldini said it was important to keep a focus on on-field matters as Milan chase the Serie A title.

The club legend, who made a record 902 appearances for Milan as a player, spoke about the possibility of a takeover before Friday's league clash with Genoa.

Milan won that game 2-0 to move top of the table after city rivals Inter briefly went to the summit earlier in the day.

"I know little, but it is normal that in the future of Milan there may also be a sale," Maldini told DAZN. "I don't know when that moment will be.

"A few matchdays from the end [of the season], however, I think it is in everyone's interest to try and think about winning this championship. We also have the semi-final of the Coppa Italia to play."

It has been widely reported that Investcorp, founded in Bahrain, is in talks to buy the San Siro giants from American hedge fund Elliott Management, which is said to be seeking a price above $1billion.

The Financial Times reported Investcorp has secured an exclusivity period set to last for around two weeks.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.