Tue, Dec 05, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Perisic hat-trick against Chievo sends Inter top

AFP, MILAN, Italy

Inter’s Mauro Icardi, left, scores against AC Chievo Verona in their Serie A match at the San Siro in Milan, Italy, on Sunday.

Photo: Reuters

Ivan Perisic on Sunday fired unbeaten Inter top of Serie A with a hat-trick in a 5-0 win over AC Chievo Verona after Gennaro Gattuso’s AC Milan reign began with goalkeeper Alberto Brignoli’s header giving Benevento their maiden Serie A point.

Croatian Perisic opened the San Siro goal blitz after 23 minutes and added two more in the second half, while Inter captain Mauro Icardi made it 16 for the season seven minutes before halftime and defender Milan Skriniar found the net on the hour mark.

Luciano Spalletti’s Inter are now the league’s only unbeaten team after 15 games after SSC Napoli lost 1-0 at home to champions Juventus on Friday.

Inter are top of Serie A for the first time since January last year, one point ahead of Napoli and two above Juventus, who are chasing their seventh straight league title and host Inter on Saturday.

“It’s not important who scores the goals, only the team counts, we’ve waited a long time for first place, now we have to stay, we’re going to Turin to win against Juve,” Perisic said.

“It’s not the title match, but we want to try to bring home three points like in all the matches, but we have shown we have character and players of their level, so it will certainly be a great challenge,” Spalletti added.

Despite the absence of key players Roberto Gagliardini, Matias Vecino and Joao Miranda, Inter proved deadly efficient against an outclassed Chievo.

Icardi moved top of the goalscoring charts, but it was Perisic who stole the show on a Sunday night where there were double celebrations for Inter fans as AC Milan let points slip against rock-bottom Benevento.

Goalkeeper Brignoli snatched Benevento’s first ever Serie A point deep into stoppage-time to spoil Gattuso’s debut and spark wild celebrations for the hosts after a thrilling 2-2 draw.

With the home side a goal down and pushing 10-man Milan back in search of an equalizer, Brignoli, on loan from Juventus, headed home Danilo Cataldi’s free-kick five minutes into stoppage-time to end the southern side’s record losing run.

Benevento had surpassed Manchester United’s 12-game losing start, a record for the top five European leagues established 87 years ago, on Nov. 19 and were stuck on zero points after 14 games going into the match.

“Someone from the bench told me to go up, there was nothing to lose, I went to jump and I closed my eyes,” Brignoli said. “It’s a very strong, indescribable feeling. I dedicate the goal to all the people who are living a dream that they hoped would be better.”

Giacomo Bonaventura had opened the scoring for Milan after 38 minutes at the Stadio Vigorito, before George Puscas pulled Benevento level five minutes after halftime.

Croatian forward Nikola Kalinic got Milan back in front seven minutes later, only for Alessio Romagnoli to be sent off for a second bookable offense, leaving the visitors a man down for the final 15 minutes.

Then in the final seconds Brignoli jumped highest to meet a desperate last free-kick.

“It would have been less painful to suffer a stab wound than that goal,” Gattuso said.

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