Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz has been tipped to leave the Bundesliga outfit at the end of the season.

Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are among the possible destinations.

Havertz's future could become a lot clearer following Leverkusen's 4-2 defeat to Bayern in the DFB-Pokal decider.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA BOOSTED BY HAVERTZ NEWS

Kai Havertz wants to meet with Bayer Leverkusen to discuss his future after the DFB-Pokal final loss to Bayern Munich, according to Bild journalist Christian Falk.

Havertz scored a consolation goal as Leverkusen went down 4-2 to Bayern in Berlin on Saturday.

Chelsea are interested in Havertz, Real Madrid are hesitant about signing the Germany international in 2020, while Bayern are not prepared to make a bid this year.

Liverpool, Barcelona and Manchester United have also been linked.

 

ROUND-UP

- Falk also claims Bayern star Thiago Alcantara could join Liverpool or United. Bayern are braced for Thiago to leave at the end of the season and the Spanish midfielder has been tipped to move to Premier League champions Liverpool. However, United are also reportedly interested.

United, Arsenal, Napoli and Atletico Madrid are among the teams eyeing a cut-price deal for Madrid outcast James Rodriguez, says Marca. Everton and Wolves have also been mentioned as suitors.

- According to the Daily Mail, Arsenal are desperate to sign Atletico midfielder Thomas Partey, so much so they are prepared to sell either Matteo GuendouziAlexandre Lacazette or Lucas Torreira to fund the transfer.

- Gazzetta journalist Nicolo Schirra reports Sporting CP are in advanced negotiations to extend Joelson Fernandes' contract. The Portuguese side are looking to increase the 17-year-old's release clause from €45million to €100m amid interest from Barca, Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig.

Paris Saint-Germain are eyeing Monaco full-back Djibril Sidibe, Foot Mercato claims. The Ligue 1 champions are looking to sign a right-back after Thomas Meunier left for Dortmund.

- Madrid forward Luka Jovic remains Milan's first choice to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Calciomercato says. Milan are ready to meet Jovic's agent as they look to pair the Serbia international with former Eintracht Frankfurt team-mate Ante Rebic at San Siro. Patrik Schick – who spent the season on loan at Leipzig from Roma – is another option should Milan fail to land Jovic.

Inter prefer David Alaba over Chelsea full-back Emerson Palmieri and have already met the Bayern star twice, according to SportMediaset. Alaba has also been linked to Chelsea, PSG, Madrid and Manchester City.

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."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was on target again as Milan beat Lazio 3-0 at Stadio Olimpico to derail their opponents' Scudetto hopes.

Juve moved seven points clear at the summit with a 4-1 win over rivals Torino earlier on Saturday and Lazio were unable to close the gap in their game in hand.

Lazio had not lost in 16 home games since September 2017 but were two down at half-time - Ibrahimovic scoring a penalty after setting up Hakan Calhanoglu for the opener.

Ante Rebic added a third for Europe-chasing Milan in the second half as Lazio, without leading goalscorer Ciro Immobile, fell to just a second loss in 25 league matches.

Calhanoglu continued his good form since the restart by opening the scoring after 23 minutes, the midfielder's strike deflecting off Marco Parolo to help it over Thomas Strakosha.

Ibrahimovic had a goal ruled out for offside but did not have to wait long to score from the penalty spot after Alexis Saelemaekers' cross struck Stefan Radu's hand.

Strakosha got a hand to the spot-kick 11 minutes before the break but it squirmed under his body to leave Lazio, who recovered from a goal down to beat Fiorentina in midweek, with a big mountain to climb.

Manuel Lazzari thought that he had started a second-half comeback when he drilled home, only for the offside flag to deny him, and further misery followed when Rebic added a third goal.

The Croatia international took Giacomo Bonaventura's pass in his stride and swept past Strakosha for his ninth league goal of the season.

Milan should have added a fourth late on but Theo Hernandez missed a sitter, having earlier been denied by Strakosha following an impressive run.
 

What does it mean? Lazio's Scudetto hopes all but over

Lazio's slim Scudetto hopes are surely all over as this loss leaves them seven points adrift of leaders Juventus with eight games to go.

As for Milan, they now have 10 points from a possible 12 since the restart - the exception being a disappointing 2-2 draw with SPAL last time out - and are in sixth place.

Zlat is back

Ibrahimovic now has two goals in two starts since recovering from an injury during the lockdown that many feared would bring a premature end to his career.

He may have got a bit of luck with the penalty - Strakosha really should have kept it out - but he made his presence felt and also teed up Calhanoglu's opener.

Immobile absence is felt

Lazio were without Immobile for the first time in Serie A this season, while fellow forward Felipe Caicedo was also suspended.

Joaquin Correa and Luis Alberto had nowhere the same impact, managing just one shot on target between them.

What's next?

Milan host league leaders Juventus on Tuesday, the same day that Lazio, who will hope Stefano Pioli's men can do them a favour, travel to relegation-threatened Lecce.

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."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's ability only has a positive impact on team-mates, according to former Paris Saint-Germain attacker Jeremy Menez.

Ex-France international Menez spent three years at the Parc des Princes, two of those alongside Ibrahimovic, before joining Milan in 2014.

The 33-year-old built up a good connection with Ibrahimovic on the field in his early days at PSG but a change in system saw him lose his place in the side.

And Menez, now plying his trade in Serie B after joining Reggina last week, is grateful for the advice given to him by the striker during their time in the French capital

"I always got along well with him and his words motivate you to give your all, train at your best," he told Stats Perform News 

"I never had any problem with him. Such a player pushes you to improve all the time. He always wants to win. He goes out every day to train well and win it all. 

"I thank him because playing with players like him makes you grow as a professional and as a man."

Ibrahimovic scored 156 goals in 180 appearances for PSG and referred to himself as "God" in the dressing room.

Menez says the Milan striker has more than justified the hype on the field by scoring goals wherever he has played.

"It is a joke because he is like that. I smile at that because this is Ibra. It represents his career," Menez said. 

"He is like that. Despite all the words he can say, he then proves it on the pitch. What can you say against him? He always made his clubs win, wherever he went. 

"What can you say against him? I leave him be and say all he wants."

Menez has spent time in France, Turkey and Mexico since leaving Milan, but insists he is fully motivated after joining Reggina.

"I am the same Jeremy as six years ago, though this Jeremy has slept for two or three years and felt a bit out of phase. But now I am super motivated and the quality is still here," Menez said. 

"But I know I am not an easy guy to deal with myself, it's not easy to be with me every day, but we grow up, mature and get better day by day."

Milan head coach Stefano Pioli said he does not feel like a "sacrificial victim" amid mounting speculation he is set to be replaced by Ralf Rangnick.

A heartbreaking stoppage-time own goal from Francesco Vicari gifted Milan a dramatic equaliser in Wednesday's 2-2 Serie A draw at lowly 10-man SPAL.

Mattia Valoti's goal and stunning long-range strike from 38-year-old striker Sergio Floccari had SPAL ahead 2-0 by the half-hour mark before Milan completed a comeback in the second 45 – the Rossoneri aided by Marco D'Alessandro's 43rd-minute red card.

After Rafael Leao and an own goal salvaged a point for Milan, attention turned to Pioli and ongoing talk regarding Rangnick.

Rangnick, who is now head of sport and development for Red Bull – the group which owns RB Leipzig, is tipped to combine the jobs of head coach and sporting director at Milan in 2020-21.

Asked about his future and the Rangnick rumours post-game, Pioli – who was only appointed in October after Marco Giampaolo's sacking – told Sky Italia: "I am working with passion and professionalism, I love these players, they are giving me a lot.

"I do not have the thought and the shadow of another coach, it will be what it will be.

"There are still many games, at Milanello I am happy, we are working well. The choices will be made in the end.

"I am not anxious and I do not feel like a sacrificial victim, I am proud to train these players."

Milan are seventh in Serie A after 29 matches, two points adrift of sixth-placed Napoli.

Pioli's men are next in action against scudetto hopefuls Lazio in Rome on Saturday.

Milan coach Stefano Pioli has backed his players to recover their spark against Lazio on Saturday after a sluggish 2-2 draw against Serie A strugglers SPAL.

Pioli blamed fatigue as Milan needed an injury-time own goal to secure a point at the Stadio Paolo Mazza on Wednesday with lowly SPAL having played the majority of the contest with 10 men.

Mattia Valoti's close-range finish and stunning long-range effort from Sergio Floccari gave SPAL a 2-0 lead before Marco D'Alessandro was sent off for a reckless challenge on Theo Hernandez.

Milan pulled a goal back with 11 minutes remaining when Rafael Leao stroked the ball home before Francesco Vicari diverted the ball into his own net in added time.

"It is not easy to recover mental and physical energies by playing every three days," Pioli told a news conference.

"But we must do it and do better. It takes all our focus and determination.

"The players are tired but they will recover energy to make a good performance against Lazio, who rested one day more than us."

Milan were much improved after veteran Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic came off the bench just after the hour to make his first appearance since March.

Although Pioli felt his tactics throughout were unfortunate not to deliver victory as the draw left Milan two points behind sixth-placed Napoli in the battle for a Europa League group-stage spot.

He continued: "Our approach was not wrong, but the game was tough after we made two careless mistakes.

"We had controlled the game and created several goalscoring chances. There was even time for us to score a winning third goal, but we just failed."

Milan striker Ante Rebic had an off night but Pioli refused to criticise the Croatia international.

"He had his chances," he added. "Maybe today he was less brilliant. Fatigue can be felt."

SPAL coach Luigi Di Biagio acknowledged the dismissal of D'Alessandro on the stroke of half-time "affected" his side.

But despite suffering a crushing late blow, he would not give up on his side's survival chances even though they are seven points adrift of safety.

"As long as we are alive, I will believe it until the end," Di Biagio said. 

"Three games await us that will give us a clearer idea of things. We hope to close the gap in the table."

An injury-time own goal from Francesco Vicari spared Milan's blushes as an action-packed Serie A encounter ended in a 2-2 draw at 10-man SPAL on Zlatan Ibrahimovic's return.

A close-range finish from Mattia Valoti and a stunning strike from Sergio Floccari gave SPAL a 2-0 lead before the break at the Paolo Mazza.

SPAL were down a man shortly before the break, though, as Marco D'Alessandro was sent off late in the first half, but a sluggish Milan lacked a cutting edge in attack until Ibrahimovic came on as a substitute.

A composed finish from Rafael Leao pulled one back for Milan with 11 minutes to go before Vicari turned an Alexis Saelemaekers cross into his own net in added time.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been named in the Milan matchday squad to face SPAL in Serie A on Wednesday.

The 38-year-old is one of 23 players who will travel to Stadio Paolo Mazza as Milan seek a third consecutive victory.

Ibrahimovic has not played since scoring in a 2-1 San Siro defeat to Genoa on March 8, but he returned to training last week and had his mental strength praised by head coach Stefano Pioli.

Milan moved to allay fears he had suffered a serious Achilles injury in training on May 25, confirming after scans the tendon was "perfectly intact".

Reports had claimed Ibrahimovic had endured a major injury, potentially putting his career in doubt, but instead it was a less serious calf issue.

Last month, the club provided an update to say he was recovering well from the injury to his right leg.

Ibrahimovic has scored four goals in 10 games in all competitions since returning to Milan, who are seventh in Serie A, for a second spell.

Milan director of football Frederic Massara recently revealed a decision on the forward's future will be taken at the end of the season.

Add Tottenham to the list of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic admirers.

The Lazio star and Serbia international has teams queuing up for his services, with Paris Saint-Germain reportedly tipped to secure his signature.

However, Premier League outfit Spurs are now eyeing Milinkovic-Savic.

 

TOP STORY – MILINKOVIC-SAVIC WANTED BY SPURS

Jose Mourinho is interested in bringing Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to Tottenham, according to Foot Mercato.

Milinkovic-Savic is a player in demand, having been linked with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Juventus, Manchester City and Chelsea.

While a move for Milinkovic-Savic appears out of reach for Spurs, Jose Mourinho is still dreaming.

 

ROUND-UP

- While Milinkovic-Savic is a dream for Spurs, The Telegraph says Tottenham are confident of signing Southampton's Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. Mourinho, however, must raise transfer funds through sales from his squad.

Inter are in advanced talks with Brescia to finalise a deal for star Sandro Tonali, according to journalist Nicolo Schira. Inter have agreed a five-year deal with Tonali.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's future at Milan beyond the 2019-20 season is complicated, says Calciomercato. Ibrahimovic is out of contract at the end of the campaign and the 38-year-old striker is no closer to signing an extension. While he would like to remain at San Siro, an extension looks set to be postponed until the proposed arrival of Ralf Rangnick as head coach.

- Sport Bild reports Bayern Munich are hopeful of extending David Alaba's contract, despite failing to come to an agreement at a meeting last week. Alaba has been linked to Chelsea recently. Meanwhile, Sky Sport says Bayern are not prepared to exercise their option to sign Ivan Perisic permanently from Inter following his loan spell.

- ABC says Real Betis have been in negotiations with former West Ham, Real Madrid and Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini about their coaching vacancy.

Milan and Napoli are both interested in Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic, claims Le10 Sport. The Serbian could be a replacement for Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, who has been linked to the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Real Madrid.

- The Daily Mail reports Arsenal are ready to use out-of-favour midfielder Matteo Guendouzi as a bargaining chip in a potential swap deal. United, PSG, Madrid and Barca have emerged as possible destinations.

Manchester City could be ready to challenge rivals Manchester United for Aston Villa star Jack Grealish.

Grealish, 24, has been linked with a move away from Villa, with Old Trafford seemingly his most likely destination.

But City may be primed to join the race for the attacker.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY CONSIDER MOVE FOR MAN UTD TARGET GREALISH

Manchester City will consider a move for Grealish if they receive their asking price for Leroy Sane from Bayern Munich, according to The Telegraph.

Sane is set to leave the Premier League giants this close season amid continued links to Bayern.

And City could challenge Manchester United for Grealish – who has scored nine goals and provided eight assists in 35 games this season – if their asking price is met.

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- Quique Setien is under increasing pressure at Barcelona. RAC1 reports Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu, chief executive Oscar Grau, sporting director Javier Bordas and technical secretary Eric Abidal met at Setien's house on Monday to discuss the current situation. Trailing Real Madrid by two points in LaLiga, Esport3 says Setien could be fired as early as this week.

- Arsenal have made a decision regarding Dani Ceballos. The Sun says the Premier League club will not make a move to buy the midfielder from Real Madrid when his loan deal expires at the end of the season.

- With Serie A promotion secured, Benevento could be set to strengthen. Gianluca Di Marzio reports the club are set to sign former Chelsea forward Loic Remy, who is coming out of contract at Lille.

- Real Sociedad are leading the chase to sign Real Madrid midfielder Takefusa Kubo on loan next season, according to AS. The 19-year-old has been on loan at Mallorca this season, while Milan are also reportedly interested in the Japan international.

- With Timo Werner joining Chelsea, RB Leipzig have seemingly found a replacement from the forward. According to Sky, Hwang Hee-chan will join Leipzig from Salzburg for about €10million. Hwang has been linked to the likes of Liverpool and Wolves.

- Celtic are reportedly keen to hold onto Fraser Forster. The goalkeeper has been on loan from Southampton this season and The Sun reports Celtic want to buy the former England international.

Real Madrid or Manchester United? 

The two European giants appear to be the likeliest options for Jadon Sancho, who continues to be linked with a move away from Borussia Dortmund. 

Sancho has been tipped to make the move to Old Trafford but the England international could be set to grace the Santiago Bernabeu instead. 

 

TOP STORY – MADRID AND UNITED FIGHTING OVER SANCHO

Real Madrid and Manchester United are going head-to-head to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to Le10 Sport.

Sancho has been tipped to leave Dortmund for United, though Madrid, Chelsea, Liverpool, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain have all emerged as possible destinations.

Zinedine Zidane reportedly wants to bring Sancho to Madrid as Dortmund demand a huge fee.

 

ROUND-UP

- Could Sergio Aguero and Milan Skriniar be set to swap clubs? Calciomercato reports Inter are eyeing Manchester City star Aguero in a deal that would see Nerazzurri defender Skriniar move in the opposite direction. Inter could be in the market for a forward as Barca eye Lautaro Martinez, while Pep Guardiola's City are desperate to bolster their defence.

- There has been no decision on David Alaba's future, according to Bild journalist Christian Falk. The Bayern Munich star has been linked to City, Juventus, Chelsea and PSG.

Mauricio Pochettino is in talks to take over Portuguese giants Benfica, Record says. Pochettino has been out of work since he was sacked by Tottenham in November.

- Calciomercato claims Milan's hierarchy will confront Mino Raiola in the next 48 hours to try to finalise a new contract for star goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Arsenal have made an offer for Levante midfielder Enis Bardhi, reports Onda Cero. Fiorentina and an unnamed Bundesliga club are also interested.

Barca and Juve are expected to announce the swap deal involving Arthur and Miralem Pjanic on Monday after undergoing medicals, according to widespread speculation. Arthur will join Juve, while Pjanic is set to replace the Brazilian at Barca.

Paolo Maldini believes Gianluigi Donnarumma is the best goalkeeper in the world as Milan try to keep the Italy star.

Donnarumma has established himself as the undisputed number one keeper at boyhood club Milan since debuting as a 16-year-old in 2015, however, his future is often a topic of discussion.

The likes of Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea have been linked to Italy international Donnarumma, who is out of contract in 2021 as Milan look to discuss a new deal.

And Milan technical director Maldini heaped praise on Donnarumma prior to Sunday's 2-0 Serie A victory over Roma at San Siro.

"It is certainly Milan's duty to try and keep hold of an important player like Gigio, for what he represents as a symbol, a player who came up through our youth academy and, in my humble opinion, because he is the best goalkeeper in the world," Maldini told DAZN.

The future of Zlatan Ibrahimovic is also making headlines after joining Milan on a free transfer from LA Galaxy in January.

Ibrahimovic has scored four goals in 10 games across all competitions since returning to Milan for a second spell.

The 38-year-old's contract expires at the end of the current campaign and Maldini added: "As for Ibrahimovic, these are two different situations. Gigio's contract is not running down, whereas Ibra's is."

Stefano Pioli was delighted to reflect on a Milan victory over one of Serie A's leading sides after they defeated Roma 2-0 at home on Sunday.

The Rossoneri had lost all six of their league matches against the top five of Juventus, Lazio, Inter, Atalanta and Roma prior to the latter's trip to San Siro.

Roma had won three on the bounce in Serie A, too, but they were well below par - as were Milan for the first 75 minutes - before Ante Rebic scored his eighth goal of the season and Hakan Calhanoglu converted a late penalty. 

"It was very hot, so it was unthinkable to play at an intense rhythm for 90 minutes," Pioli told DAZN.

"We deservedly won the game because we worked as a team throughout, even with a few mistakes, and it had been a long time since we'd won against one of the big clubs.

“It had only been the result missing in those fixtures and not the performances, as we were only really poor against Atalanta.

"This victory therefore boosts confidence, but the next match is always the most important."

Rebic's strike 14 minutes from time continued his fine form, with all of his eight goals coming since the turn of the year.

Used mainly as a winger with former club Eintracht Frankfurt, he is now thriving in the striker's role at Milan, who remain without the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

"He was an important reference point and attacked the space," Pioli added of Rebic.

"He can certainly improve, as he's not just strong physically but also has excellent technique.

"I think he needs to just get used to being more of a centre-forward than a winger. If he maintains this attitude, he can certainly do well."

Atalanta's sixth successive win in Serie A later on Sunday meant Roma fell nine points behind in the race for the final Champions League qualification spot.

"There is not a lot of time to recover, we have to play on two days' rest," Roma boss Paulo Fonseca said about the challenges ahead.

"Keeping consistency is not easy when you need to change players so much. It won't be easy, but we are ready to keep on fighting until the end."

Ante Rebic's eighth Serie A goal of 2020 and a late penalty from Hakan Calhanoglu dented Roma's top-four hopes as Milan claimed a 2-0 Serie A win at San Siro.

The Giallorossi were seeking four successive top-flight victories for the first time all season but hot and humid conditions in Milan seemed to sap them of any creativity.

Edin Dzeko missed with a close-range header in the first half and the contest was heading for a dour draw until Rebic popped up with the opening goal 14 minutes from time to continue his fine form since the turn of the year.

Theo Hernandez was then tripped in the box by Chris Smalling with two minutes to go, allowing Calhanoglu to make sure of the points with an emphatic penalty.

Both sides were slow to get going but it was Roma who eventually seized some sort of control.

Dzeko really should have scored with a header when unmarked six yards out but he could only flick Justin Kluivert's deflected cross wide.

It was a similar story at the other end when Calhanoglu nodded off target from Hernandez's delivery, with the presence of Antonio Mirante possibly putting the Milan man off.

Milan failed to register a single shot on target in the first half but they twice worked Mirante in quick succession midway through the second period following the introduction of Lucas Paqueta and Alexis Saelemaekers from the bench.

Calhanoglu got behind the Roma defence via a one-two with Saelemaekers but Mirante denied the Turkish midfielder with his legs before pushing away an effort from Paqueta.

A Milan goal did eventually come, though, after Davide Zappacosta gave the ball away to Rebic in his own half.

Mirante saved from Franck Kessie and then diverted Rebic's first attempt onto the post but the in-form forward rifled the rebound into the roof of the net.

Hernandez's driving run then paid off when he reached the ball before Smalling, and Calhanoglu converted his penalty to give Milan breathing space.

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