Tue, Dec 03, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Martinez double fires Inter to top

AFP, MILAN, Italy

Inter’s Lautaro Martinez, front left, scores against SPAL in their Serie A match at the San Siro in Milan, Italy, on Sunday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

Lautaro Martinez’s first-half brace sent Inter top of Serie A on Sunday with a 2-1 win over SPAL after champions Juventus were held at home by US Sassuolo.

“We didn’t use our heads,” Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri said after his side dropped their first points at home this season.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored from the penalty spot to rescue a 2-2 draw, but Juventus slipped one point behind Antonio Conte’s Inter.

Argentina’s Martinez put Inter ahead on 16 minutes at the San Siro, then headed in Antonio Candreva’s cross to score his eighth league goal this season.

Mattia Valoti pulled a goal back, but second-from-bottom SPAL fell to their ninth defeat of the season.

Conte has guided Inter to 12 victories in 14 league games for the first time as they reclaimed the top spot they had previously held until their 2-1 defeat by Juventus on Oct. 6.

“When a team like Juventus drops points, you need to make sure that you make the most of that,” Conte said.

In Turin, Leonardo Bonucci struck early for the eight-time reigning champions, but Jeremie Boga and Francesco Caputo hit back for Sassuolo before Ronaldo’s intervention.

Sassuolo, in 12th place, claimed their first ever point at Juventus and held Sarri’s unbeaten champions to their third draw this season.

“We got into trouble on our own, we didn’t use our heads in the first half, as the goals conceded show, but we were coming off two games in which we used up a lot of energy against Atalanta [BC] and Atletico Madrid. We woke up after going behind,” Sarri said.

Veteran Gianluigi Buffon endured a nightmare in the Juventus goal.

The 41-year-old was making just his fifth start this season, putting him two short of Paolo Maldini’s record of 647 Serie A appearances.

Boga dinked the first Sassuolo goal after 22 minutes over the onrushing Buffon, who then fumbled Caputo’s second following a mix-up between Juan Cuadrado and Matthijs de Ligt.

By contrast, 18-year-old Stefano Turati made an impressive debut in the Sassuolo goal, pulling off a string of fine saves to deny a Ronaldo free-kick, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala late on.

Ronaldo’s penalty pulled the hosts level in the 68th minute after Filippo Romagna fouled substitute Dybala.

It was the Portuguese star’s fifth Serie A goal this season. He also had an effort ruled out for offside.

“Ronaldo has regained stamina, the next step will be to recover brilliance, but the road is right,” Sarri said.

SS Lazio consolidated third place — seven points behind Inter — with a 3-0 win over Udinese thanks to a double from Serie A top scorer Ciro Immobile, including one from the penalty spot, to bring his tally to 17 goals this season.

AS Roma moved up to fourth, two points behind their city rivals, after a 3-1 win at Hellas Verona.

Justin Kluivert scored after 17 minutes, with Diego Perotti converting a penalty just before halftime. Henrikh Mkhitaryan adding a third in stoppage-time.

SSC Napoli’s winless run stretched to eight games in all competitions with a 2-1 defeat at home by Bologna, leaving last season’s runners-up in seventh.

Bologna got their first win since Oct. 27 with coach Sinisa Mihajlovic back on the bench following a bone marrow transplant as he fights leukemia.

Fernando Llorente put Napoli ahead four minutes before halftime, but Andreas Skov Olsen volleyed in an equalizer just before the hour mark, before Nicola Sansone scored the winner 10 minutes from time.

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