Milan closed to within five points of Serie A leaders Napoli with Wednesday’s 2-1 win at Salernitana while Lazio slumped to a 2-1 defeat at promoted Lecce.
First-half strikes from Rafael Leao and Sandro Tonali in Salerno moved champions Milan up to 36 points, closing the gap on Napoli who face Inter Milan at the San Siro in the day’s big match as Italy’s top flight gets back underway.
Milan will stay second regardless of results elsewhere and will be hoping for a Napoli slip-up ahead of the upcoming weekend round of fixtures in which they host sixth-placed Roma, 1-0 winners over Bologna on their return to action.
Stefano Pioli’s side are also five points ahead of third-placed Juventus ahead of their match at struggling Cremonese.
Milan should have run out bigger winners at the Stadio Arechi but a combination of wasteful finishing and a superb display from Salernitana’s new goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa denied Milan the goals they display deserved.
“We were almost perfect because we could have scored one or two more goals to win more comfortably,” Tonali told Sky.
“We’re aware of the importance of what we did last season, we’ll defend the title to the last bead of sweat we’ll leave on the pitch.”
Veteran Mexico international Ochoa moved to Salernitana, in 14th on 17 points, after the World Cup and made his presence felt in the absence of injured Luigi Sepe.
The 37-year-old pulled off a superb double save from from Olivier Giroud and Charles De Ketelaere with eight minutes left which allowed Federico Bonazzoli to lash in Lassana Coulibaly’s deep cross and give the home side some hope in the final minutes.
Lecce stun Lazio
Six points behind Milan are Lazio, whose defeat at Lecce came after Ciro Immobile had given them a half-time lead with his 189th Serie A goal, which took him above Alessandro De Piero and Beppe Signori in the all-time scoring charts.
However they came unstuck after the break at the Stadio Via del mare in Italy’s deep south, missing the chance to go third above Juve and being caught on 30 points by local rivals Roma.
Gabriel Strefezza levelled for Lecce just before the hour mark after Federico Di Francesco’s shot was saved by Ivan Provedel.
And Di Francesco was again key when the hosts took the lead, his brilliantly volleyed cross finding Lorenzo Colombo for a tap-in which moved his team up to 12th, nine points clear of the relegation zone.
Mario Pasalic snatched a last-gasp 2-2 draw for Atalanta at Spezia with a stoppage-time leveller to complete a comeback from two goals down.
Spezia were leading with 13 minutes remaining thanks to first-half finishes from Emmanuel Gyasi and M’Bala Nzola, but young gun Rasmus Hojlund pulled one back and Pasalic bundled home the leveller with seconds remaining.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s side, who lost striker Duvan Zapata to injury, are seventh on 28 points while Spezia stay one place above the relegation zone.
Spezia are five points ahead of Sampdoria, who claimed their second win of the season, 2-1 at Sassuolo, thanks to Manolo Gabbiadini’s spectacular bicycle kick in the 25th minute and a Tommaso Augello strike shortly afterwards.
Verona stay bottom of the division on six points despite snapping a 10-match losing streak with their 1-1 draw at Torino.
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