AC Milan ended the year with a much-needed win as they edged past Sassuolo 1-0 at San Siro.

Christian Pulisic scored the only goal in the second half to keep Milan just about in touch with Serie A’s top two.

The Rossoneri went into the contest having picked up only one victory from their previous three league matches, leaving them 12 points behind city rivals and table toppers Inter.

Sassuolo are the only team to have beaten Inter in the league this season but they have been in poor form, having won just one of their previous 11 matches and none of the last four.

Milan had Luka Jovic available after he picked up an ankle injury against Salernitana last time out, and the Serbian was named among the substitutes.

The hosts had the ball in the back of the net after only six minutes when Ismael Bennacer slotted it in but an obvious offside in the build-up meant it was quickly chalked off.

Tijjani Reijnders was the next to threaten with a shot well wide, while Bennacer did well to create a shooting opportunity on the edge of the box but sent his effort just past the near post.

Milan thought they had found the breakthrough 31 minutes in when Rafael Leao drilled the ball into the top corner but he was again denied by an offside flag having mistimed his run.

Sassuolo looked lively on the break and two minutes later Domenico Berardi forced Mike Maignan into the first real save of the match with a long-range effort that was tipped over the bar.

The visitors have leaked goals too readily this season but they would have been happy with their first-half display, and Milan were limited to brief glimpses in the early stages of the second half as well.

However, with 59 minutes gone, Pulisic tucked away the opener, the American timing his run perfectly to meet Bennacer’s pass into the box.

Ruan Tressoldi desperately tried to intercept but could not divert the ball away from Pulisic, and he beat Andrea Consigli in the Sassuolo net.

Armand Lauriente tried to get the visitors back on level terms but he was stretching as he hit his shot from the edge of the box and it was easily stopped by Maignan.

Milan boss Stefano Pioli sent on 18-year-old Kevin Zeroli for his senior debut, and they almost grabbed a second in the 78th minute but Alessandro Florenzi’s well-struck volley dipped just over the bar.

Substitute Samuel Chukweze had the final chance but his search for a first Serie A goal goes on after shooting narrowly wide of the far post.

Inter Milan dropped points for only the fourth time this season as they were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw away to Genoa on Friday.

Marko Arnautovic headed the Serie A leaders in front late in the first half, but Radu Dragusin headed the hosts level in added time before the break and Inter could not get back in front as Genoa threatened a winner in the second half.

The result leaves Inter five points clear of Juventus who host Roma on Saturday, while Genoa remain 13th.

Inter threatened just a minute into the match as Arnautovic found the run of Henrikh Mkhitaryan to set him through on goal, but the Armenian could not get his shot on target.

Josep Martinez clawed away a Marcus Thuram header before the match was held up at the quarter-hour mark, with the number of pyrotechnics being set off leaving a thick smoke cloud over the pitch.

Play eventually resumed after an eight-minute delay and Inter quickly reasserted their dominance, with Arnautovic setting up a chance for Carlos Augusto, and then shooting wide himself after the Brazilian’s effort was blocked.

The breakthrough came in the 42nd minute as Genoa struggled to deal with a long throw into the box.

Nicolo Barella’s deflected strike was pushed on to the post by Martinez, but bounced up into the path of Arnautovic who could hardly miss with an open goal in front of him.

Genoese appeals for a push by Yann Bisseck on Kevin Strootman in the build-up fell on deaf ears.

Genoa had been decidedly second best up to that point but responded well to the setback. Caleb Ekuban saw his header saved as the first half moved into stoppage time, but they drew level in the seventh of the nine added minutes.

Albert Gudmundsson sent in an outswining corner and Dragusin got great power on his header to beat Yann Sommer low to his right.

Genoa carried that momentum into the second half as they put up a much better fight and Inter grew increasingly frustrated.

Genoa were screaming for a penalty early in the second half when Johan Vasquez’s header was blocked by Bisseck, but the defender’s arms were by his side and the officials showed no interest.

Inter’s best chance of a winner came in the 67th minute when Mkhitaryan chipped a free-kick into the box and Francesco Acerbi got his head to the ball, but Martinez got down smartly to save.

At the other end, Vasquez forced a save from Sommer who then spilled the ball, offering hope to Dragusin who was harshly booked for colliding with the goalkeeper as he challenged for the loose ball.

Dragusin had a late chance to win it but headed wide as Inter were forced to settle for a point.

Napoli keeper Alex Meret saved Matteo Pessina’s second-half penalty to ensure the Serie A title-holders walked away with a point as they played out a disappointing goalless draw with Monza.

Amir Rrahmani could have given the hosts the lead after the break but wasted a free header, and while Meret made the vital stop to preserve the draw he was worryingly forced off soon after.

Napoli boss Walter Mazzarri was sent off while his side’s finishing woes were highlighted by substitute Gianluca Gaetano’s inability to find the back of the net when in acres of space just outside the six-yard box.

The visitors, who saw Mirko Maric dismissed late in stoppage time, mustered few further chances and would be happy with the point, while the hosts extended their poor run of form at the Maradona Stadium.

Mazzarri was without the suspended Victor Osimhen and Matteo Politano, both of whom were sent off against Roma last time out.

Frank Anguissa had a deflected effort comfortably saved while at the other end of the pitch Meret looked on relieved when Pedro Pereira’s early attempt took a deflection before sailing narrowly past his left post.

The hosts had found a slightly stronger foothold by the halfway point in the first period but neither keeper found himself with much work to do.

Giacomo Raspadori nodded wide and Napoli were nearly ahead just before half-time, when an excellent Mario Rui cross found Anguissa in an ideal position but he was only able to direct his effort – easily the best chance of the first half – straight at keeper Michele Di Gregorio.

There was a second-half change for Raffaele Palladino with Samuele Birindelli coming on to replace Pereira, who had been booked, with Napoli wasting an early free-kick near the corner flag.

Rrahmani then somehow sent a free header over the crossbar from Piotr Zielinski’s delivery before Raspadori sent the ball skipping across the face of goal from a tight angle.

Valentin Carboni scuffed an effort for the visitors and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia came close for Napoli, nutmegging the Monza keeper who subsequently smothered the ball before Birindelli forced Meret into his first real save.

While Napoli had looked likelier to score since before half-time, it was Monza who won the best chance after Jesus was penalised for handball inside the penalty area, Pessina stepping up but squandering the spot-kick as Meret proved alert to his intentions.

Meret’s evening worryingly came to a close after 74 minutes and, with Pierluigi Gollini a last-minute absentee from the matchday squad due to an left ankle issue, on came Nikita Contini, while Giorgio Cittadini would soon replace the injured Danilo D’Ambrosio for the visitors.

Mazzarri, who had previously been booked, was sent off after he got involved in a touchline scuffle, while Rui, Kvaratskhelia and finally Gaetano seemed only able to direct efforts directly at the keeper as they ran out of time to find a winner.

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri said it gives him “great pride” to be compared with the likes of Roma counterpart Jose Mourinho.

The pair will lock horns on Saturday evening when Roma visit the Allianz Arena as Juve bid to keep the pressure on Serie A leaders Inter Milan in the title race.

Allegri told a press conference: “It always gives me great pleasure when I’m compared to the ‘old school’ coaches, together with Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti.

“Personally I believe there are a thousand variables in football, there is no absolute truth.

“Ancelotti is an extraordinary coach, who continues to win and is still doing a wonderful job.

“For Mourinho, the results speak for themselves. He has always achieved them. You may not even like him, but the rest matters little.

“Being compared to them is a source of great pride. The first time I faced Jose I was coaching Cagliari, I was still a ‘child’ and he was already a winning coach with Inter.”

Juve head into the year’s final round of Serie A fixtures in second place, four points behind Inter, who play at Genoa on Friday night.

Allegri added: “Roma are a ‘grumpy’ side at the moment, but have one of the best coaches ever on their bench.

“They are good at getting you out of the game and have quality in attack. Great attention is needed as well as patience and compactness, and we must not think of overdoing it.”

Allegri confirmed Alex Sandro (thigh) is “about 10 days” from a return to action, while Mattia De Sciglio and Moise Kean remain long-term absentees.

Roma, currently sixth in the table, 12 points behind Juve, will be buoyed by last week’s 2-0 home win against defending champions Napoli.

Mourinho’s side could also be boosted by the return of Paulo Dybala, who has missed the last three games due to a thigh injury.

Gianluca Mancini will “certainly play” on Saturday as he deals with an on-going groin issue, Mourinho said.

Juve are bidding for their first Serie A title in four years and when asked about their progress under Allegri, Mourinho told a press conference: “Juve are Juve and Allegri is still Allegri.

“We always know what to expect from the team and what to expect from Max.

“When we speak about risultatista (results-oriented) teams or coaches, it’s a strange term.

“I consider getting results to be the most important thing in football. Some people nowadays think it has a negative connotation. When people speak about a risultatista, all the connotations for me are positive.

“Juventus are just that. They defend in numbers and they defend well and when they go on the counter-attack they’re so strong. “

AC Milan manager Stefano Pioli insists his side’s match against Sassuolo is not do-or-die, but demanded a return to winning ways in Serie A.

The Rossoneri have picked up just one victory from their last three league appearances to slip 11 points behind rivals Inter Milan at the summit of the table.

But speaking ahead of Milan’s home clash against Sassuolo on Saturday, Pioli said: “We need a win and I expect a convincing performance.

“Tomorrow’s game isn’t about me, nor is it do or die, and there’s still a long way to go in the season.

“We’ve studied Sassuolo. They are a side that builds from the back and creates chances. But they also concede a lot, too, so we’ll have to take advantage of their frailties, especially in defence.”

Sassuolo sit in 15th, just three points above the relegation zone, and head to the San Siro with only one point from a possible 12.

But Pioli will be aware that they have claimed high-profile victims in Juventus and Inter so far this season.

He continued: “The players have no fear and they want to overcome difficulties. We must always give our all.

“We have made some mistakes so far that we’ve paid for. We can’t find that consistency, even within the same game. But we are united and continuously looking to get better. We’re creating a lot, but we need to be more clinical and concede less.”

Pioli will hope to have Luka Jovic available. The former Real Madrid and Fiorentina forward, who has scored three times in his previous three league matches, sustained an ankle injury in his side’s 2-2 draw against Salernitana last Friday.

However, he trained with his team-mates this week and could feature.

Olivier Giroud, leading scorer for AC Milan in 2023, is set to lead the line, but the Frenchman has netted just three league goals at the San Siro this season.

Napoli head coach Walter Mazzarri warned his side cannot afford any more slip-ups as they look to kick-start their campaign against Monza.

The Partenopei return to action after the Christmas break looking to avoid a third straight Serie A defeat with a lengthy injury list.

Brazilian defender Natan is the latest player facing a spell out because of a dislocated shoulder while midfielder Stanislav Lobotka has a cracked rib.

Forwards Victor Osimhen and Matteo Politano are also both missing through suspension following their dismissals in the defeat at Roma.

Mazzarri, though, maintains the squad will just have to cope as best they can as the defending champions aim to close on the top four.

“It’s a huge game against Monza. We need to play with attacking impetus and also strike the right balance,” Mazzarri told a press conference.

“We can’t have any more slip-ups. We need to get back to our brilliant selves and restore our confidence levels.”

Mazzarri, who returned for a second spell at Napoli in November, added: “We have deserved two or three more points from my first cycle back in charge based on how we have performed and how we have played on the front foot.

“That is my only regret, but I’m here to help the lads out and I’m confident we can improve.

“When we’re playing well, we usually impose our game on everyone. We’re also improving defensively.

“Unfortunately, we’ve paid for some mistakes which have led to us dropping points. The aim is to have attacking threat while striking the right balance and remaining solid.”

Mazzarri feels Napoli are not far away from turning promising performances into positive results.

“I can see that mentally this team has fire on the inside and is acquiring the sort of spirit that I like. We need to channel that energy in a positive way,” he said.

“I am sure that as soon as a few things go our way, we will see a Napoli side that never gives up and shows what we are capable of – that is what will show we are on the right path.”

Monza coach Raffaele Palladino feels his side must be “hungry” to get themselves back on track following their own run of three defeats from the past four games.

“We want to put in a great performance,” said Palladino, who returns to his hometown club. “We face the Italian champions who have great players.

“I saw a good week (of training). We worked well and we want to score points. We have to start doing well again. I want a team hungry for results.”

Simone Inzaghi believes Inter Milan can head into 2024 with plenty of enthusiasm as his side aim to finish the campaign with more silverware.

The Serie A leaders return to action after the Christmas break at Genoa on Friday night for their final match of the year.

While there was disappointment in defeat by Manchester City in the 2023 Champions League final, Inter lifted both the Supercoppa Italiana and Coppa Italia.

Inzaghi feels Inter can continue to build on progress over the past year as they look to maintain the pace at the top of the table and also make an impact again in Europe, having been drawn against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last 16.

“2023 has been very satisfying. We’ve won a couple of trophies and played a very exciting Champions League final,” Inzaghi told Inter TV.

“It’s nice not to forget what we’ve achieved, but we have plenty of ambition and are looking ahead to the new year with plenty of enthusiasm. We want to go far together with our fans.”

Inzaghi added: “We are happy with our numbers from the first 17 matches. We still have 21 games to play and will need to maintain our excellent attacking and defensive numbers.

“The secret is the real willingness that all the players are displaying.”

Inter should have French defender Benjamin Pavard available again for the trip to Genoa, but Lautaro Martinez, Federico Dimarco and Juan Cuadrado remain out injured.

“The rotation of the squad needs to be a solution and mustn’t become a problem,” Inzaghi said.

“It is something that has served us well during periods where we have had so many matches in quick succession.”

Genoa held Juventus to a 1-1 draw in their last home game and Inzaghi is expecting a stern test against the Rossoblu.

“It will be a hard-fought game,” he said. “Genoa are in good form and have high-quality players and a well-prepared coach who is doing well.

“We will have to be shrewd and play with real intensity.”

Genoa coach Alberto Gilardino hopes his side can produce another positive display to build on their win at Sassuolo ahead of the Christmas break.

“We face the strongest team in the championship, one of the best defences in Europe and a very good coach,” Gilardino said at a press conference.

“We come to play this match after two positive results, so we must face this match in the best way.

“We must not allow ourselves to lose even a millimetre in our approach.

“The boys are eager to get a positive result and have a positive attitude in the match.”

Juventus have given positive fitness updates on Manuel Locatelli and Alex Sandro.

The pair were substituted in Saturday’s 2-1 Serie A win at Frosinone after picking up injuries.

A Juventus statement read: “After the knock picked up in yesterday’s match against Frosinone, Manuel Locatelli underwent tests this morning at the J|Medical centre that ruled out any fracture and confirmed an oblique contusion.

“For Alex Sandro, meanwhile, an MRI scan on his right thigh ruled out muscular injuries and indicated a hamstring overload.

“Their condition will be assessed from day to day.”

Locatelli suffered a fractured rib that ruled him out of international duty in November.

Juventus are next in action at home to Roma on Saturday.

Lorenzo Pellegrini and Romelu Lukaku steered Roma to a 2-0 win against nine-man Napoli in an ill-tempered Serie A clash at the Stadio Olimpico.

Matteo Politano saw red for Napoli shortly after the hour mark, with substitute Pellegrini putting the home side ahead 10 minutes later.

The visitors then lost Victor Osimhen after he was shown a second yellow card, with Lukaku sealing the win for Roma in the sixth minute of stoppage time. Roma move ahead of Napoli and into sixth place.

Both sides had a point to prove following recent disappointing defeats – Roma suffering a 2-0 loss at Bologna last weekend, while Napoli were dumped out of the Coppa Italia earlier this week following a 4-0 thrashing at home to Frosinone.

Following nine changes for their Coppa Italia exit, defending champions Napoli were back to full strength for their visit to the Italian capital, with marksman Osimhen leading the line.

Roma manager Jose Mourinho was able to call on Lukaku with the on-loan Chelsea forward returning from a ban after he was sent off in his side’s 1-1 draw against Fiorentina a fortnight ago.

Lukaku was involved in the first real chance of the game when his hold-up play allow allowed Edoardo Bove to strike at the Napoli goal, but the young midfielder’s dipping effort clipped the bar.

Bove was in the thick of it moments later when his shot was superbly charged down by Napoli stopper Alex Meret.

Then came a flurry of bookings with Mourinho not far from the action. The former Chelsea and Manchester United manager was involved in a touchline spat with Napoli’s Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and even found himself in referee Andrea Colombo’s book.

Following the break, Napoli started to grow into the game but their bid for victory was derailed when Politano was shown a straight red card with 66 minutes gone.

As Napoli looked to hit Roma on the counter-attack, Nicola Zalewski pulled Politano’s shirt and the winger kicked out in frustration at his opponent. Colombo did not hesitate in showing Zalewski a yellow card before pulling out a red for a stunned Politano.

The visitors were suddenly on the backfoot and Roma’s breakthrough quickly arrived.

Pellegrini, introduced by Mourinho only five minutes earlier, took advantage of a fluffed shot by Stephan El Shaarawy to score on the turn with virtually his first kick of the game.

Napoli were then reduced to nine men after Osimhen was shown a second yellow card with four minutes of normal time remaining before Lukaku got on the scoresheet with the last kick of the night.

Inter Milan earned their fourth straight Serie A win after beating Lecce 2-0 at San Siro.

The hosts had plenty of chances to go in front in the first half and Yann Aurel Bisseck finally made the breakthrough just before half-time.

Hamza Rafia had a header saved as Lecce searched for an equaliser, but Nicolo Barella doubled Inter’s lead and the visitors were reduced to 10 in the final stages when Lameck Banda was sent off.

Victory sees Inter stay top of the Serie A table by four points, while Lecce remain 12th.

Wladimiro Falcone was called into action early as Marcus Thuram fired a low cross into Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but the Lecce goalkeeper was able to clear the ball.

He made another solid save in the 18th minute when Carlos Augusto cut in from the left and had his shot from a tight angle blocked.

Inter should have taken the lead in the 21st minute when some great link-up play between Barella and Thuram allowed Barella to thread the ball through to Marko Arnautovic, who dragged his shot wide of the post from close range.

The hosts dominated in possession but Lecce had chances of their own. Remi Oudin sent in a great cross from the left but Banda could only head wide, before Antonio Gallo unleashed a powerful shot that flew over the bar.

Inter nearly opened the scoring in the 39th minute when Hakan Calhanoglu whipped in a corner and Bisseck’s strike smashed off the crossbar.

The defender made no mistake in the 42nd minute, though, as Calhanoglu fired a free-kick into the box and Bisseck was able to head into the bottom corner.

Lecce threatened early in the second half and they had a penalty overturned after a handball was incorrectly given when Valentin Gendrey’s strike was blocked by Carlos Augusto.

Banda had another crack with a low strike from outside of the area, but Yann Sommer made a comfortable save diving to his right, before Bisseck met another dangerous Calhanoglu cross and forced Falcone to tip his header over the bar.

Lecce had a great chance when Gallo did well to keep the ball in play and chipped the ball into the box but Rafia’s header was easily collected by Sommer.

Inter doubled their lead in the 78th minute after some great awareness on the edge of the box saw Arnautovic backheel the ball to Barella and the midfielder fired the ball into the bottom corner.

Any chance of a comeback soon diminished for the visitors in the 83rd minute when they were reduced to 10 after Banda was sent off for dissent.

Inter continued their search for a third at the death and Falcone made an incredible double save in the 87th minute, clawing the ball off the goal line before making an acrobatic effort to tip Kristjan Asllani’s long-range effort over the bar.

Napoli striker Victor Osimhen has signed a new deal with the club.

The 24-year-old has extended his stay with the reigning Serie A champions until 2026.

Osimhen had been linked with a move away from the club, with Arsenal, Chelsea and Real Madrid just three of the clubs reportedly interested in signing the prolific forward.

After beginning his senior career with Wolfsburg, the Nigeria international arrived in Naples from Lille in July 2020 and has been a key cog up front.

Osimhen topped the Serie A goalscoring charts last season with 26 in 32 appearances as Napoli secured the Scudetto by 16 points and scored 31 goals in all competitions.

He has endured an injury-hit start to the current campaign, forcing him to miss some games, but has still managed to score seven goals in 12 league games, with his last coming against Cagliari last Saturday.

Teenager Kenan Yildiz scored his first goal for Juventus on his full debut to help his team to a 2-1 victory over Frosinone.

With Federico Chiesa nursing a knee problem, 18-year-old Turkey international Yildiz was given his first start, and, in only the 12th minute, he beat three Frosinone players on the edge of the area before drilling his shot inside the near post.

The hosts levelled six minutes after the break through Jaime Baez but Dusan Vlahovic headed in an 81st-minute winner.

The victory sees Juve close to within one point of Inter Milan at the top of the Serie A table ahead of their clash with Lecce later on Saturday.

Frosinone have been strong at home this season, losing only once previously to Napoli in August, while they went into the clash buoyed by a 4-0 hammering of the same side in the Coppa Italia in midweek.

The visitors would have taken the lead in the seventh minute but for a brilliant block from Simone Romagnoli to cut out Weston McKennie’s cross with Arkadiusz Milik waiting for a tap-in.

They did not have to wait long for the breakthrough, though, Yildiz showing his talent with some brilliant skill after Stefano Turati had been hurried into a clearance.

Both teams were forced into early changes, with Federico Gatti replacing Alex Sandro and Baez coming on for Pol Lirola.

Frosinone were growing into the game and they forced Wojciech Szczesny into his first save in the 36th minute after on-loan Juventus starlet Matias Soule broke into the penalty area on the right and shot from a very tight angle.

Juve then created a good opportunity at the other end but Filip Kostic shot wildly wide of the near post after being played in by Milik.

Six minutes into the second half, the home side drew level. Right-back Ilario Monterisi was the creator with a brilliant pass that allowed Baez to get around the back of the Juve defence and slot first time past Szczesny.

Soule then almost put the hosts ahead with a curling effort from the edge of the box that evaded his team-mates and went just past the far post.

Vlahovic came off the bench as the visitors sought a response and he nearly provided it after being set up by Milik but Turati produced a smart block.

Szczesny then pulled off a fine fingertip stop to deny Abdou Harroui while McKennie left the bar shaking with a thunderous leaping volley as both sides chased a winner.

It eventually came from Vlahovic, who met McKennie’s cross from the right with a perfect header into the top corner.

The Serbian thought he had scored again late on but it was ruled out for offside.

Luka Jovic spared AC Milan’s blushes as his 90th-minute leveller secured a 2-2 draw against Serie A’s bottom club Salernitana.

Jovic volleyed home in a crowded goalmouth after Federico Fazio and Antonio Candreva had wiped out the Milan lead provided by Fikayo Tomori’s third goal of the season.

The late equaliser was rough justice on Salernitana, who are managed by Milan striking great Filippo Inzaghi and had won only once in the league, at home to Lazio last month.

Third-placed Milan trail league leaders and city rivals Inter by eight points having played a game more, and the Rossoneri have now failed to win any of their last four away matches in Serie A.

Salernitana survived a second-minute VAR penalty check for handball against Fazio, the Argentina defender getting in the way of Rafael Leao’s effort when possibly moving his arm towards the ball.

Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan reacted well to save from Boulaye Dia after Domagoj Bradarc’s drive had veered across goal.

But Christian Pulisic volleyed the ball just over before the visitors took a 17th-minute lead.

Tijjani Reijnders’ free-kick reached Leao at the far post and the Portuguese sent it back across the six-yard box, Tomori adjusting well after a double deflection to head home.

Salernitana responded well to that setback and Maignan showed excellent reflexes to push away a ball that had skimmed off the head of team-mate Ismael Bennacer.

Milan were then cut apart by an excellent home move which ended with Candreva crossing and Grigoris Kastanos stretching to force another fine stop from Maignan.

But Salernitana were not to be denied and Fazio produced a prodigious leap from Candreva’s corner, rising above Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Simon Kjaer, to equalise with a thumping header.

Loftus-Cheek almost restored Milan’s lead, breaking forward from midfield to sting the palms of Benoit Costil in the Salernitana goal.

But Loum Tchaouna nearly pounced at the far post before Candreva sent the home fans wild.

Tomori went down clutching his hamstring but Salernitana correctly played on and the veteran Italy international’s angled 20-yard drive slipped through the fingers of an embarrassed Maignan at the near post.

Maignan was far more accomplished to turn over Pasquale Mazzocchi’s powerful drive from distance and Milan pressed for an equaliser in the final quarter.

Costil produced a brilliant double save from Jovic, but the Serbia substitute broke Salernitana hearts after Olivier Giroud had directed the ball into his path with a clever header.

The game finished in controversy with a mass pitchside melee and Salernitana substitute goalkeeper Vincenzo Fiorillo was shown a red card for pushing Alessandro Florenzi.

Jose Mourinho has warned his Roma side to beware the threat posed by defending Serie A champions Napoli ahead of their clash at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday night.

Walter Mazzarri’s men suffered an embarrassing 4-0 defeat to Frosinone in the Coppa Italia in midweek to add to a testing campaign which has left them 14 points off the pace.

Despite last week’s loss at Bologna which ended a run of five domestic games unbeaten, Mourinho’s men will leapfrog Napoli in the table if they manage to claim all three points.

But Mourinho warned the visitors are still much the same side who swept to the title last season, with the exception of star man Kim Min-jae – a summer signing for Bayern Munich – and departed coach Luca Spalletti.

Mourinho told a press conference: “They’ve had problems in terms of a few results, but not the quality of their players.

“They’re the same team that won the league last year, without Kim. Out of the starting 11 that won them the Scudetto, 10 are still playing.

“They have so many options in every position and they’re a top team. We know what the difficulties are. Every time we’ve faced Napoli, the result has always gone down to the wire.”

Napoli had shown signs of turning their season around in recent weeks after ending a run of two straight losses by reaching the next stage of the Champions League then beating Cagliari last week.

But Tuesday’s home loss, which saw Frosinone inflict most of the damage after Napoli had introduced stars including Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia off the bench, left Mazzarri perplexed.

“Perhaps the first-choice players are not accustomed to coming off the bench and absurdly we did better with the lads who don’t play as often,” Mazzarri told Italian media.

“We need to reflect on that. It’s a pity – you can lose in football, but not 4-0. We looked like everyone was just doing their own thing.

“I hope this can be a lesson for the future, as from tomorrow we must all look each other in the eye and change gear.”

World Cup winner Lautaro Martinez’s 89-game streak for Inter Milan has been ended by injury.

The 26-year-old Argentina international has confirmed he is out of the leaders’ Serie A clash with Lecce on Saturday after limping out of Wednesday night’s Coppa Italia defeat by Bologna.

Martinez wrote on his official Instagram account: “After 89 appearances in a row, unfortunately I am forced to stop and therefore I am sorry that I can’t help my team-mates tomorrow, forced rest for a few days to recover and come back as soon as possible.”


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Lautaro Javier Martinez (@lautaromartinez)

Inter had earlier issued a statement on the club’s official website confirming the results of tests on Martinez’s injury.


It read: “Lautaro Martinez underwent medical examinations this morning at the Istituto Clinico Humanitas in Rozzano. The Nerazzurri attacker has suffered a strain to the muscle in his left thigh. His condition will be monitored over the coming days.”

Simone Inzaghi’s men lost for the first time since September when they slipped out of the cup they have won for the last two seasons, going down 2-1 after extra-time and in the process ending a run of 15 games without defeat.

However, they have lost only once in the league all season – at home to Sassuolo on September 27 – and head into the weekend four points clear of second-placed Juventus.

Martinez said in his post: “I’m very sorry about how the game went on Wednesday night. The Coppa Italia is a competition we care about so much seeing that we won the last two editions. We would have liked to continue on the path, the team gave everything to make it happen.

“Now total focus [is] on the other important remaining goals.”

Lecce boss Roberto D’Aversa, who will serve a touchline ban at the San Siro, will go into the game fully expecting an Inter backlash, but buoyed by his side’s league victory over Frosinone last weekend, their first in 12 games in all competitions.

He told his pre-match press conference: “We will find an angry team that doesn’t want to make any more mistakes.

“Mistakes are psychological but in this, the boys have improved a lot. To get a result in Milan, we won’t have to make any mistakes.”

Asked about Martinez’s absence, he added: “Whoever replaces him will have different characteristics, but that doesn’t mean the task will be easier.

“Inter have many players to decide the match. The stadium pushes and the group is of the highest level. We will have to go beyond the 100 per cent.”

D’Aversa will be without Kastriot Dermaku and Pontus Almqvist, but Patrick Dorgu, Marin Pongracic and Hamza Rafia, who were all doubts, have been included in a 25-man squad.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.