Simone Inzaghi believes Inter deserved all three points in their 1-1 derby draw with Milan on Sunday.

Hakan Calhanoglu – who joined the blue half of Milan from the red side on a free transfer in July – won and then converted an early spot-kick to put the Rossoneri ahead.

The Turkey international became the fourth player to score in his first Milan derby in Serie A after having played the previous encounter with the opposing team (since 1994-95), after Hernan Crespo (2006), Ronaldo (2007) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (2010).

Inter were pegged back soon after as Stefan de Vrij scored an own goal – the first in a Milan derby since Samir Handanovic's in December 2017.

The Nerazzurri were handed a second penalty in the first half, but Ciprian Tatarusanu saved Lautaro Martinez's strike from 12 yards to keep his side level. 

Martinez has now missed three of the last six penalties he has taken in all competitions for Inter.

"The glass is half-empty because we had so many chances and missed a penalty, so in my view we deserved far more," Inzaghi told DAZN.

"We were up against a great team who are deservedly [joint-] top of the table. We're behind them in terms of progress, but there is time to get back on track and performances like this will give us confidence.

"Over the past six games we drew with Juventus and Milan when we probably deserved to win. Milan and Napoli are keeping up a remarkable tempo, but there's a long way to go and we are up there.

"We wanted to give our fans a victory and I feel we did enough to deserve it. The tempo was very high and both teams probably could have done a lot better on a technical level, but it was intense.

"Milan are a very technical side, so you have to tire them out, make them move. We did well in the opening 20 minutes and generally I think we deserved more, we only struggled a little in the final 15 minutes."

 

Despite Calhanoglu having already scored from the spot, Inzaghi said he had no issues with Martinez stepping up to – unsuccessfully – take Inter's second penalty of the game.

"Our penalty takers are Martinez and Calhanoglu, while Ivan Perisic can take them too," the head coach added. "Hakan asked to take the first, Lautaro took the second.

"It's between them to decide, we know how those moments work."

Inzaghi also provided an update on Nicolo Barella, Edin Dzeko and Alessandro Bastoni, who were substituted with apparent injuries in the second half.

"Barella felt a twinge and asked for the substitution," he explained. "I had a few issues with Dzeko and Bastoni in the first half, so naturally playing with this tempo and so often, the muscles are under strain. Hopefully they are nothing serious."

Stefano Pioli is remaining positive despite Milan missing the chance to go top of Serie A with a 1-1 derby draw against Inter at San Siro.

Former Rossoneri midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu scored an early penalty before Stefan de Vrij's own goal levelled the scores, and Ciprian Tatarusanu was needed to deny Lautaro Martinez after a second spot-kick was conceded.

However, the result means Milan have picked up 32 points in the opening 12 games of a Serie A season for the first time in the three-points-for-a-win era (since 1994-95) and remain unbeaten in the league after 12 games.

Rossoneri boss Pioli feels there is plenty to be encouraged by from his side's season so far and from the performance against reigning champions Inter.

"The glass is half-full," Pioli said to DAZN. "You aim to win, but it was complicated, the team showed a lot of spirit and we struggled a bit too much in the first half, but then emerged after the break.

"In all of Europe's top five Leagues, only Napoli and Milan are still unbeaten this season, and that says a lot about how we are doing.

"Inter are a strong side and we proved that we are strong too. It was a positive performance. Look at the average age difference for the starting 11 between Milan and Inter.

"We needed time to gain that experience, form that confidence and now we can fight it out with the best in Serie A. There can be difficulties, but we showed courage tonight again and both teams had the opportunities to win.

"We made a naive error on the penalty but maintained our ideas and approach to turn this around. We could've sought Zlatan Ibrahimovic more, as we didn't give him enough service, but it's also true that we fought for every ball and never stepped back.

"We were courageous in attack, but also in defence, where we accepted one-on-one situations with players like Edin Dzeko and Lautaro Martinez. We were eager to bring home another positive result."

Ante Rebic's introduction off the bench following his recovery from an ankle injury coincided with Milan's best period of the game and Pioli was full of praise for the 28-year-old, while admitting that Rafael Leao looked a little jaded after featuring in every game for the club so far this season.

"Ante is very important, as he has that change of pace and is very aggressive," Pioli continued. "We saw Rafael Leao was a little less sharp tonight, inevitably because he played practically every game for the last three weeks."

Milan travel to face Fiorentina after the international break as they look to maintain their unbeaten league record and keep the pressure on Napoli in the title race.

Juventus' long domination of Serie A finally ended last season thanks to Inter, but their success never looked likely to be the start of a new monopoly in Italy's top flight.

With Inter not only losing their mastermind Antonio Conte but also arguably their two best players in Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi, Simone Inzaghi was always going to have a tough task on his hands in their attempts to successfully retain the Scudetto.

Milan fans will have watched on frustrated last season, their own improvement paling in comparison to that of their bitter rivals, who finished 12 points clear of the Rossoneri at the top.

Of course, Milan only secured a top-four finish at all on the final day of the season – but there is much cause for optimism at the club and Sunday's Derby della Madonnina suggested the positivity is well-placed, even if Stefano Pioli's team only got a 1-1 draw.

Let's not forget, Milan's record in this fixture has been dreadful in recent times. Inter won five of the past six in Serie A, while the Rossoneri's run of three successive home defeats in the derby was their worst such run since 1934.

Milan went into the match knowing a win would take them top after Napoli dropped points against Hellas Verona, but arguably the most important thing here was to avoid a defeat – victory for Inter would have brought them to within three points of their bitter rivals.

And to be fair to Inter, they looked every inch a side out to win.

It didn't take long for one of the main pre-game narratives to come into focus as Hakan Calhanoglu, playing his first derby for Inter since leaving Milan in pre-season, won a penalty from Franck Kessie and then stepped up to take the resulting kick.

His celebration left no doubt about his thoughts on the jeers being aimed his way, as he cupped both ears in the direction of the home fans, with the Turkey midfielder becoming only the fourth player since 1994-95 to score in his first Milan derby after making his previous appearance in the fixture for the other team.

It was the kind of start you hope from every derby match, with the emotions and intensity turned right up inside the first 10 minutes, and Milan were certainly up to the challenge.

Their response was quick – though they had more than a helping hand. Fikayo Tomori was the man who ran off in joyous celebration as the Inter net bulged, though replays amusingly showed he didn't even touch the ball as Stefan de Vrij put past his own goalkeeper.

The gripping end-to-end nature of the match soon brought another twist.

Matteo Darmian darted onto the ball, surging inside Fode Ballo-Toure and into the box, luring the Milan left-back into a clumsy lunge. Penalty.

But Calhanoglu didn't fancy the opportunity to get a second, instead allowing Lautaro Martinez to step up, and the Argentinian failed to beat Ciprian Tatarusanu in the Milan goal.

 

Milan started to fade towards the end of the first half, with Inter creating two more fine opportunities just before the break and then remaining in the ascendancy in the second period.

Martinez saw a stinging drive go just over and then Calhanoglu inexplicably failed to get a volley on target at the back post as he blasted across the face of goal.

But Pioli's substitutions worked very well. Ismael Bennacer's introduction brought a little more poise and intricacy to the Milan midfield, while Alexis Saelemaekers showcased his trademark endeavour.

In fact, the Belgian went closest to breaking the deadlock as his long-range effort came back off the post and Kessie put the rebound wide.

Inter managed to hold on in the face of the late onslaught, and while a point seemed a fair result, it's already a fourth draw for Inzaghi's men. That's five matches they've failed to win, and although they remain third, you get the feeling they need to start turning those into victories if they are to stand a chance of retaining the title.

They certainly have the personnel to do so, while Milan's showing provided a little more evidence that last season's second-place finish wasn't a fluke, with this the first time in the three-points-for-a-win era that the Rossoneri have amassed as many as 32 points from their first 12 matches.

Of course, Napoli will hope to prove otherwise, but there remains the very real possibility that the Scudetto will be staying in Milan at the end of the campaign.

The second derby of the season will likely have some say in which of the two clubs prevails, and that in itself is glorious.

It had arguably lost much of its lustre in the eyes of the neutral in recent years, with the collective standard of their squads somewhat lacking in comparison to the fixture's glory days back in the early 2000s and it rarely having relevance due to Juve's domination.

But one thing Sunday's contest showed is that the Derby della Madonnina is once again becoming Italy's most relevant fixture.

Inter midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu scored a penalty against his former club Milan, who missed out on an opportunity to go top of Serie A in a 1-1 derby draw at San Siro.

Calhanoglu - who joined the blue half of Milan from the red side on a free transfer in July - won and then converted an early spot-kick, but Inter were pegged back soon after as Stefan de Vrij scored an own goal.

The Nerazzurri were handed a second penalty in the first half, but Ciprian Tatarusanu saved Lautaro Martinez's strike from 12 yards to keep his side level. 

Inter looked the more dangerous side in the second half, yet were unable to secure the victory. However, simply denying Milan three points meant the title-chasing Rossoneri were unable to leapfrog Napoli, who also drew 1-1 with Hellas Verona.

Calhanoglu opened the scoring against his former club, earning a penalty from Franck Kessie before powering the spot-kick down the middle in the 11th minute following a lengthy VAR check.

Inter's lead did not last long, however, as De Vrij inadvertently headed into his own net past Samir Handanovic just six minutes later after losing the flight of a cross from the left.

Milan then conceded a second spot-kick, with Fode Ballo-Toure scything Matteo Darmian down in the box, but Martinez stepped up this time and Tatarusanu produced a superb save from the striker's well-struck effort in the bottom-left corner.

Inter twice looked certain to re-take the lead shortly before the break when Nicolo Barella's shot was hacked off the line by Ballo-Toure before Martinez fired narrowly wide.

The Nerazzurri continued to push for a second after half-time and created a number of chances, including Calhanoglu's fizzing effort across goal, which was missed by both Martinez and Edin Dzeko.

Substitute Alexis Saelemaekers struck the post and Kessie skewed the rebound wide in the Rossoneri's best chances to win the game late on, but ultimately neither side was able to find a winner in the closing stages.

Vinicius Junior has been in dazzling form for Real Madrid.

Previously linked with Paris Saint-Germain as part of a possible deal to bring Kylian Mbappe to the Spanish capital, Vinicius has established himself under Carlo Ancelotti.

Now, a bumper contract is on the cards.

 

TOP STORY – VINICIUS SET FOR NEW DEAL

Real Madrid star Vinicius Junior is set to hold contract talks with the LaLiga giants, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Vinicius is contracted to Madrid until 2025 but Los Blancos are determined to offer the Brazil international fresh terms.

The 21-year-old has been in red-hot form at the Santiago Bernabeu this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- El Nacional reports Barcelona are targeting Beijing Guoan striker Cedric Bakambu as a short-term replacement for sidelined star Sergio Aguero, who is facing at least three months out due to a potential heart condition.

Luka Jovic is eager to leave Madrid in January, says Defensa Central. The Serbia international has been linked with former club Eintracht Frankfurt, Inter, Milan, Arsenal and Liverpool.

Manchester United have rejected the chance to sign struggling Madrid star Eden Hazard, claims the Daily Mail. Hazard has also been reportedly snubbed by Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Newcastle United.

"There is a great talent here. He has a great future but it all depends on him," Zlatan Ibrahimovic said of Rafael Leao after Milan beat neighbours Inter in the derby last October.

Ibrahimovic knows what it takes to reach the top better than most.

There has been no doubt about Leao's quality, the 22-year-old has pace to burn and an arsenal of attacking weapons up his sleeve. But he has split opinion since being prised from Lille in 2019 – a result of mixed performances amid hype and expectations after Milan made a significant investment.

However, after an inconsistent start in the north of Italy, Leao is now flourishing under the guidance of Zlatan and Stefano Pioli as part of the Rossoneri dream of conquering Serie A for the first time in over a decade.

Deployed as a left-sided wide forward or lone striker, Leao has showcased his ability with the ball at his feet, leading the league this season in average carry progresses (9.1 metres), shot-ending carries (14), goal-ending carries (two) and total chance created carries (17) – Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne and Juventus star Federico Chiesa are just some of the names left behind on those lists.

A key member of Milan's Scudetto charge, Leao has a chance to further enhance his growing reputation on the big stage when city rivals Milan and champions Inter meet in a blockbuster Derby della Madonnina on Sunday.

Another off the long list of Sporting CP's famed production line, Leao dazzled in Lisbon, where he drew comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo before his time at Estadio Jose Alvalade ended abruptly in 2018. After players and coaches were sensationally attacked by fans at the club's training facility, Leao terminated his contract prior to moving to Lille on a free transfer.

 

"The first time I saw Rafael was when I took the job as the technical director of the Sporting academy. Every time I saw Rafael in his first few sessions for the Under-17s, he was different and he was special. You know, at Sporting, we've created so many good players – like Ronaldo and [Luis] Figo. Because of that, we are qualified to see when we have special talents in front of our eyes. Then it was easy to see, Rafael was different from the others," Luis Martins – Leao's first coach at Sporting – told FTF.

After eight goals and two assists in one season with Lille, Milan came calling and splashed out around €30million to usher in a new era for the Italian powerhouse, desperately craving a return to their glorious past after years in the wilderness.

Following a tough start to life under Marco Giampaolo, Leao showed glimpses when Pioli stepped into the Rossoneri hotseat, but he was far from convincing, proving a frustrating figure due to the consensus that he lacked consistency.

Leao only managed one goal in his first 19 appearances for Milan across all competitions. While he ended his debut campaign with six Serie A goals at an average of 232 minutes per goal and a sole assist, there were already questions whether the Portuguese was a future star or a gamble that hadn't paid off.

The key takeaway was Leao's involvement in Milan play. In 2019-20, he was the orchestrator of just 58 sequences in open play. In those 31 appearances, not one of those sequences started and ended in a goal. For context, he tallied nine goals and six assists the following season.

A raw talent finding his feet, Leao shot conversion rate was 17.7 per cent, well down on the 27.6 per cent mark he reached the season prior with Lille.

"It's true, I expected more from him tonight. When coming on, he was meant to give changes of pace, fresh energy, work with the team," Pioli said after a loss to Lazio in November 2019 as Leao was eventually linked with a move away heading into 2020-21. "He has a lot of potential, but he absolutely has to do more. His contribution tonight was not up to his standards."

 

Leao has seemingly heeded the advice of those around him, delivering on a more regular basis just as his team-mates are under Pioli's watchful eye.

Capable of delivering an incredible pass, Leao has mastered the art of attacking space with his blistering pace and it has well and truly come to the fore since 2020, with his 21 dribbles this season only exceeded by Sassuolo's Jeremie Boga (24) among forwards. Leao has also scored the most goals from fast breaks in Serie A (three).

Despite not yet having a fixed position at Milan, Leao's movement – predominantly on the left flank – has him first for carries with a shot (14), carries with a goal (two) and fourth for total carries by distance (1995.79) in the league this season.

"The Leao project goes on regardless of the role. He continues his growth and maturation, as is normal for such a young player," Pioli said in April.

"Then it is difficult to establish what Rafael's final role will be. The growth of a player allows you to find a job and a position. The important thing is the growth of its value, then we will evaluate the position along the way."

Leao's rise and development has been evident since the turn of the year, having become the second-youngest foreign player to score 10-plus Serie A goals for Milan back in January, older only than Alexandre Pato.

No one has scored more goals for Milan this term – level with France World Cup-winning striker Olivier Giroud on four goals through 11 matchdays – than Leao, who has outperformed his xG (2.6) while scoring every 205 minutes in Italy's top flight (more frequent than the likes of Chiesa, Tammy Abraham and Alvaro Morata among forwards) with a shots to goal conversion rate of 18.2 per cent.

It's not just the goals when it comes to the new and improved version of Leao. The two-time Portugal international has become more of a team player, leading the way at San Siro in attacking sequence involvements (40) across shots (25), chances created (seven) and build-up to shot (eight), ahead of Alexis Saelemaekers (38), Davide Calabria (33), Brahim Diaz (30), Ante Rebic (24) and Theo Hernandez (24) in 2021-22.

Leao has gone from prospect to genuine star, and as he takes centre stage in one of football’s most historic fixtures, the sky is the limit.

Inter midfielder Nicolo Barella has signed a new long-term deal at San Siro.

The Italy international, who is into his third season with Inter since joining on an initial loan from Cagliari, is now under contract until 2026.

Barella's previous deal was due to run until 2024 and he had been linked with the likes of Liverpool, Atletico Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain in the most recent transfer window.

Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta revealed last month talks were ongoing regarding fresh terms and the Italian champions have now reached an agreement with the 24-year-old, who was also a key member of Italy's Euro 2020-winning side. Inter confirmed the news in a short statement on their official website.

 

Barella has made 102 appearances for Inter in all competitions since his debut in August 2019 – only Marcelo Brozovic (103), Samir Handanovic (110) and Lautaro Martinez (111) have featured more times in that period.

The Cagliari youth product has scored eight times and set up a further 21 during that period, his direct goal-involvement tally of 29 bettered only at Inter by Romelu Lukaku (81) and Martinez (58), the latter also recently signing a new deal.

In Serie A this season, the nine big chances created by Barella is the most of any player, with five assists already to his name.

Is a move to London on the cards for Kingsley Coman?

Coman and Bayern Munich have so far been unable to reach an agreement over a new deal.

Chelsea are reportedly ready to pounce.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA TARGETING COMAN

Chelsea are monitoring Bayern Munich forward Kingsley Coman, according to Bild.

Coman has been in negotiations with Bundesliga champions Bayern regarding a new contract, but up until now, the Frenchman has been unwilling to re-sign.

Champions League holders Chelsea are keeping tabs on Coman, who has also been linked with Barcelona, Liverpool and Manchester United.

 

ROUND-UP

- It is set to be a busy time at St James' Park. Sky Sports reports Eddie Howe has agreed to become Newcastle United's manager, while El Nacional claims the Magpies have made Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen a transfer priority.

Barcelona are prioritising a January move for RB Leipzig star Dani Olmo, per Diario AS. Should they fail in their pursuit, out-of-favour Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling is the alternative.

- Sport1 claims the agent of Salzburg sensation Karim Adeyemi has met with LaLiga champions Atletico Madrid. The 19-year-old has also been linked with Bayern, Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain.

PSG and Bayern are eyeing Inter midfielder Marcelo Brozovic on a free transfer, says Calciomercato. United and Barca are also reportedly interested.

Inter have slammed the door shut on the prospect of stars leaving in January to be reunited with former boss Antonio Conte at Tottenham.

Just six months have passed since Inter were celebrating Serie A title success under Conte's leadership, only for the head coach to leave the club within weeks.

He has this week returned to the Premier League as the new Spurs head coach, in what has the makings of a stellar appointment by the north London club.

A patchy Tottenham squad may need urgent reinforcements, but Inter – who sold Achraf Hakimi and Romelu Lukaku in the last transfer window amid financial difficulties – are adamant none of their players will be available to Conte, or any other boss, in January.

Inter sporting director Piero Ausilio told Sky Italia: "The intention is to move forward with this squad and in January no requests for possible transfers will be taken into consideration.

"We know this it is a team that has quality and that has a new coach who has taken over the group for a few months, so in the next transfer window we will only give continuity to what started in June. Then in the summer we will make other assessments, which will be the time to strengthen Inter, not to weaken."

Simone Inzaghi was selected as Conte's successor and Inter have moved on quickly, heading the pack chasing fast-starting Napoli and Milan.

Ausilio backed Conte to do well in England, however, as he embarks on a second Premier League stint after previously coaching Chelsea.

"I can say that I am happy, and I wish him the best for this new adventure," Ausilio said. "I know how pleased he is to be able to work in the Premier League, how much passion and how many skills he has, and I'm sure he will do well with Spurs."

Ausilio also confirmed new contracts for midfielders Marcelo Brozovic and Nicolo Barella are in the works.

Indeed, the latter could sign before Sunday's derby against Milan. "We are talking about more formal aspects than anything else, so I am fully confident that the deal will be closed," said Ausilio.

The 28-year-old Brozovic scored his first Champions League goal in his 27th appearance in the competition in Wednesday's 3-1 win over Sheriff.

Ausilio said of the Croatian: "He is certainly an important player who we hope will be part of our project also in the future , but we need to hear what the other side thinks and we will do this in the coming days."

After their lucrative takeover, Newcastle United are set to make a transfer splash in January.

The Magpies are winless and second last in the Premier League table this season.

Newcastle remain without a manager, following Steve Bruce's dismissal a fortnight ago.

 

TOP STORY – MAGPIES IN FOR COUTINHO LOAN DEAL

Newcastle United look set to make a move for Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho in January, according to Spanish newspaper Sport.

Financially embattled LaLiga giants Barca are said to be keen to offload the former Liverpool forward, who arrived at Camp Nou from the Reds in 2018.

Barcelona are reportedly ready to accept a loan deal that includes a mandatory option to buy with Newcastle.

ROUND-UP

Barcelona are bullish about signing up Ousmane Dembele to a fresh three-year deal with the option for a further season, claims Mundo Deportivo. Dembele has been linked with LiverpoolManchester United and Juventus.

- Barca are also considering a move to sign Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele on loan, reports Sport. Ndombele has made nine appearances this season.

- Brazilian club Palmeiras have entered the race to sign Manchester United's Edinson Cavani, claims the Daily Express. The Uruguayan signed a one-year contract extension in May.

- Former Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho wants to bring Spurs midfielder Harry Winks and Chelsea's Ruben Loftus-Cheek to Roma, reports Corriere dello Sport.

- Sky Sports reports ex-Roma head coach Paulo Fonseca is still interested in the vacant Newcastle managerial role. Fonseca nearly took over at Tottenham in the off-season. Magpies candidate Unai Emery announced he was staying with Villarreal on Wednesday.

- La Nazione says Tottenham are firmly in the race to sign Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic, who has also been linked with Manchester City, Inter, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid and Juve.

Simone Inzaghi says Inter's "destiny is in our hands" after a 3-1 victory over Sheriff moved them up to second in Champions League Group D. 

Marcelo Brozovic, Milan Skriniar and Alexis Sanchez were on target for the Serie A side at the Bolshaya Sportivnaya Arena, while Adama Traore scored a late consolation for the hosts. 

The result meant Inter leapfrogged the Moldovan side into second, two points adrift of leaders Real Madrid. 

After victory over Sheriff at San Siro a fortnight ago, Inter have now recorded back-to-back Champions League wins for the first time since winning their opening two of the 2018-19 campaign. 

"Let's say that this evening we improved our position in the group, now our destiny is in our hands and we must go into the last two games with great concentration," Inzaghi told Mediaset Infinity. 

"There was the risk after 10 or 12 chances that we'd get frustrated and frenetic, but instead the lads were always sharp and focused. We made it seem simple, but don't forget Sheriff beat Real Madrid in Madrid and also Shakhtar Donetsk. This gives us more confidence." 

Inzaghi's attention now turns to his first Derby della Madonnina against Milan on Sunday, with Inter looking to inflict a first Serie A defeat of the season on their rivals. 

"We know what awaits us, it means a lot to our fans and the club," he added. "We must prepare it in the best way with just three days to get ready. 

"It's a long flight back to Italy, but we will try to recoup that physical and above all psychological energy." 

Brozovic shared Inzaghi's sentiments, saying going back to Italy with maximum points was all that mattered. 

"Now we control our own destiny," Brozovic, who scored his first Champions League goal in his 27th appearance in the competition, told Sky Sport Italia. 

"The only thing that mattered today was winning. We played really well, attacked and did not allow any counter-attacks. 

"The coach said a few things [at half-time], we needed to move the ball quicker and then we'd 100 per cent score a goal." 

Inter moved up to second in Champions League Group D with a 3-1 away victory over Sheriff on Wednesday.

The Serie A champions secured their first win of the campaign against Yuriy Vernydub's men a fortnight ago, and they followed that up with another to move to remain two points behind leaders Real Madrid, who beat Shakhtar Donetsk earlier in the day.

Inter were unable to find a breakthrough in the first half despite carving out a host of chances, but they went ahead nine minutes after the restart thanks to Marcelo Brozovic's first goal of the season.

Milan Skriniar and Alexis Sanchez put the game beyond Sheriff, who scored a late consolation through Adama Traore, as Simone Inzaghi's side took a significant stride towards booking a spot in the last 16. 

Inter had a flurry of chances shortly before the half-hour mark, Lautaro Martinez denied by a goalline clearance and goalkeeper Georgios Athanasiadis in quick succession, while Matteo Darmian whipped wide from inside the penalty area.

Athanasiadis had to be alert to deny Edin Dzeko soon after, before Martinez crashed against the post from distance as a dominant Inter went in at the interval having had 13 shots to their hosts' one.

Inter's relentless pressure did pay off in the 53rd minute, though, Brozovic coolly cutting onto his right foot and slamming into the bottom-left corner from 18 yards.

Skriniar prodded in from close range 12 minutes later after Athanasiadis had kept out Stefan de Vrij's header and the Slovakian defender's initial follow-up.

Sanchez added a third just 33 seconds after being introduced from the substitutes' bench in the 82nd minute, lashing home after a powerful run, before Traore headed a consolation in stoppage time for the Moldovan side.

Stefano Pioli is eager to take positives from Milan's second-half performance against Porto ahead of this weekend's huge Derby della Madonnina clash with Inter.

Milan ended a club-record run of five successive defeats in the Champions League with a 1-1 draw against Primeira Liga leaders Porto at San Siro on Wednesday.

That solitary Group B point after four matches all but ends the Rossoneri's hopes of qualifying for the last 16, though, as they must win both remaining games and hope other results go their way.

Pioli's side fell behind to a Luis Diaz strike with just five minutes and two seconds on the clock – the second-fastest goal they have conceded at home in the Champions League.

Porto looked a lot sharper and should have doubled their lead when Evanilson headed against the crossbar, but Milan earned a point through Chancel Mbemba's comical own goal.

Despite remaining bottom of the group, Pioli is remaining upbeat with his side flying high in Serie A ahead of the showdown with rivals and reigning champions Inter.

"The signs are positive for us, even if the team is disappointed," he told Amazon Prime. "We wanted to find our first victory in the Champions League. 

"It is true that their pressure was strong in the first half. In the second half we did better. We moved better and their intensity in the pressure dropped.

"It is clear that conceding a goal like we did influenced our way of playing. I can't say much about the second half, especially in terms of our aggression. 

"Porto are a strong team, who last year eliminated Juventus. The level in this competition is very high. To win in the Champions League you have to deserve it. 

"The next game will be just as difficult. Inter deservedly won the championship and remain favourites to retain the title. 

"We will have to play a high level match, but we have the opportunity to do well."

Milan have won just one of their past 11 Champions League games, whereas Porto have now lost just one in nine in the group stage.

The Portuguese side had a three-day gap between their 4-1 win against Boavista and the game at San Siro, compared to a couple of days off for Milan following their win at Roma.

That was also the case prior to last month's reverse fixture, which Porto won 1-0.

"They played a day before us twice in a row," Pioli said. "If you have seven or eight days to recover it doesn't make a difference.

"But if you have three instead of four in a period where you play seven times in 21 days, it can make a difference."

Olivier Giroud was selected ahead of Zlatan Ibrahimovic up top for Milan but could not find a way through as his scoreless run in the competition stretched to 326 minutes.

At 35 years, Giroud was the oldest member of Milan's line-up and feels a lack of experience has perhaps cost his side in Europe this term.

"We're a young team but I don't want to make excuses," he told Canal+. "We also needed a little more luck. We have played some good matches in the group.

"It's tough against teams who are used to Champions League football like Porto or Atletico. Experience is important.

"Now we've got the derby with Inter and we will look to come back with the same energy and desire for that game."

Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic is winning plenty of admirers.

The 21-year-old Serbian has netted 10 times in 12 appearances at club level this season.

Vlahovic is currently under contract until June 23, although La Viola want him to sign an extension.

TOP STORY – PSG TO ENTER VLAHOVIC RACE

Paris Saint-Germain will enter the race to sign Fiorentina's Dusan Vlahovic, claims Le10Sports.

The Parisians are lining up the Serbian striker as a potential successor to Kylian Mbappe should he exit the club when his contract expires at the end of this season, with Real Madrid circling.

Hot property Vlahovic is being pursued by JuventusLiverpool and Tottenham.

ROUND-UP

- Unai Emery will not be the first permanent manager in Newcastle United's new era, BBC Sport journalist and Spanish football expert Guillem Balague understands. The Basque coach is set to stay at Villarreal for now, though his job there is under threat amid a poor start to 2021-22.

- The Sun reports Antonio Conte's arrival at Tottenham has seen Harry Kane abandon any plans he had to quit the club. Kane apparently wished to join Manchester City during the most recent transfer window.

- New Spurs boss Conte wants to sign Milan midfielder Franck Kessie, according to Metro. Conte also has Inter defender Stefan de Vrij in his sights, claims Football Insider.

Milan are in the race to sign talented River Plate star Julian Alvarez in the off-season, according to Gazzetta dello Sport. Fiorentina have also shown interest in 21-year-old Alvarez, who has four caps for Argentina.

Norwich City are considering a move to replace embattled manager Daniel Farke with former Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe, claims the Daily Mail. The Canaries have only two points from 10 games following their return to the Premier League. Howe has also been linked with the vacant Newcastle job.

Newcastle want to make Inter's Croatian midfielder Marcelo Brozovic their first major signing in January, says The Sun. Brozovic is out of contract at the end of the season.

Lazio are looking to convince Luiz Felipe to ink a new deal with the club amid interest from BarcelonaSevilla and Real Betis, reports CalcioMercato. The Brazilian centre-back's contract expires at the end of this season.

Atletico Madrid are hoping to recover from losing to Liverpool on matchday three with a repeat of their Anfield heroics last March.

Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City will look to take bigger steps towards the last 16, while Real Madrid will go in search of another big win against Shakhtar Donetsk.

Inter can put themselves in a good position to progress, too, although city rivals Milan have got much more of a fight on their hands.

Here are some of the key Opta facts for Wednesday's Champions League matches...

 

Liverpool v Atletico Madrid: Can Suarez improve rotten recent record?

Atletico were winners at Anfield on their last visit as they claimed a 3-2 victory in the last-16 second leg in March 2020. Indeed, Liverpool have only twice beaten Spanish teams at home in 13 attempts in the European Cup and Champions League.

That said, the Marcos Llorente-inspired game last year was one of only two out of 22 at home that Jurgen Klopp has lost in this competition as Reds manager, while Diego Simeone is chasing what would only be the second instance of a third successive away win in the tournament with Atleti.

Luis Suarez will hope to haunt his old side, although recent history is against him: he's only scored one for Atleti in nine Champions League games, and none from open play. Mohamed Salah, meanwhile, needs one more goal to equal Steven Gerrard as Liverpool's top scorer in the competition at Anfield (14).

Manchester City v Club Brugge: Bad omens for Belgian champions

City's 5-1 triumph in Bruges on matchday three took their tally to six wins in seven European games against Belgian opposition, while Brugge are now without a victory over English teams in 13 attempts dating back to February 1995.

Since Pep Guardiola took charge, City have won 80 per cent (20 out of 25) of home Champions League matches, which is the best record for a coach at a single club in the competition among those to take charge of 20 or more. A first win on English soil for Brugge looks unlikely.

Might this be a chance for Raheem Sterling to impress? The England forward has been directly involved in 24 goals in 27 home Champions League games for City, a tally surpassed only by Sergio Aguero (27).

 

RB Leipzig v Paris Saint-Germain: Nkunku could outshine Messi

PSG have only lost one of their past nine away games in the group stage, but that defeat was against RB Leipzig last season. It was the only time in the previous seven meetings with French sides that Leipzig emerged victorious.

He might be enduring a difficult time in Ligue 1, but Lionel Messi has managed three goals in three games in Europe for PSG. His double in the reverse fixture was his 34th in the competition, something only Cristiano Ronaldo (37) can better.

However, perhaps the most in-form player in 2021-22 is Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku, who has been involved in the most open-play sequences ending in a goal (six) among Champions League midfielders this season. And he has four goals of his own from the first three matches.

Real Madrid v Shakhtar Donetsk: Another big win on the cards with Benzema

Madrid's 5-0 win over Shakhtar on matchday three means the past five meetings between these teams have seen an average of 4.6 goals scored per game. In fact, Los Blancos have scored 15 times in five Champions League matches against Shakhtar: that average of three per game is their best figure against a side they have faced on at least five occasions, apart from Galatasaray (3.4 per game).

Shakhtar are one of just three sides yet to score in this season's group stage, but with Madrid having lost three of their previous eight home games in the competition, this could be a good opportunity.

They will need to stop Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior, though: they are the two players with the most involvements in shot-ending sequences in 2021-22 (31 and 34, respectively). Plus, Benzema is on a run of 10 goals in 10 home games in the competition.

 

Sheriff v Inter: Nothing shot-shy about Inzaghi's men

Inter ended Sheriff's 11-game unbeaten run in Europe last time out and will now look to secure consecutive Champions League victories for the first time since October 2018.

The Nerazzurri have lost just once in their previous five Champions League away matches, but Sheriff are unbeaten in their most recent five European games on home soil, excluding qualifiers. They've also won the past two.

Inter certainly have the variety to break down Sheriff's stubborn defence. Each of their previous 17 away goals in the competition have come from open play, while their 29 shots in the meeting on matchday three were the most by an Italian side in a Champions League game since at least 2003-04.

Other fixtures:

Borussia Dortmund v Ajax

45 – Ajax's 4-0 win over Dortmund last time out was the biggest victory by a Dutch side over a German team in Europe since November 1976, when Feyenoord defeated Kaiserslautern 5-0 in the UEFA Cup.

8 – Sebastien Haller has been directly involved in more Champions League goals this season than any other player (eight – six goals, two assists). Among debutants in the competition since 2003-04, this is the highest such figure over a player's first four appearances and one more than Erling Haaland managed.

Milan v Porto

3 – Milan are one of just four sides this season to have lost all three group games. They are on a five-game losing run in the competition, the worst such streak in their history.

1 – Since scoring four for Chelsea against Sevilla in December 2020, Olivier Giroud has scored only once in 250 minutes of play in the Champions League.

Sporting CP v Besiktas

5 – Paulinho has been directly involved in three of Sporting's five goals (two scored, one assisted) in this season's Champions League. Their last player to manage more goals and assists combined in a single season was Nani in 2014-15 (six).

10 – Michy Batshuayi has attempted 10 shots for Besiktas in the Champions League in 2021-22 without scoring. Over the first three matchdays, only Inter's Lautaro Martinez (12) had more shots without finding the net.

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