Lautaro Giannetti dealt Juventus’ Serie A title hopes a potentially fatal blow as he grabbed the only goal of the game to earn a stunning 1-0 win for struggling Udinese.

The visitors made the most of a sluggish performance from Massimiliano Allegri’s men, who still trail leaders Inter Milan by seven points having played a game more.

Arkadiusz Milik was guilty of wasting most of the home side’s good chances as Udinese held firm for only their second win in 13 Serie A games which moves them three points clear of the relegation zone.

Looking to bounce back from last week’s loss to Inter, Juventus looked unlikely to be duly troubled in a strong start which saw Andrea Cambiaso and Federico Chiesa come close.

Udinese goalkeeper Maduka Okoye was busy early on, saving well from Milik’s close-range header then denying Federico Gatti who should have done better from the edge of the box.

The visitors grabbed the lead against the run of play in the 25th minute when Giannetti bundled home the loose ball after a free-kick was flicked on by Thomas Kristensen deep into the home box.

Milik failed to reach a cross-shot from Cambiaso that caused panic in the Udinese box and it was clear the home side were once again missing striker Dusan Vlahovic, who was ruled out with a groin strain.

Milik headed straight at Okoye and it could have got worse for Juventus on the stroke of half-time when Sandi Lovric fired a speculative effort over from just outside the box.

Allegri’s men hardly improved after the break as they huffed forward for little reward, although they did briefly think they had levelled on the hour mark.

A corner was headed back for Milik to nod home but celebrations were cut short as the referee ruled the ball had drifted out of play in the course of the initial set-piece.

Chiesa rammed a 72nd-minute effort over the bar while Kenan Yildiz was inches from connecting with Cambiaso’s left-wing cross in front of goal as Udinese managed to hold on for a famous win.

Four individuals who racially abused AC Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan during a Serie A match at the weekend have been given five-year stadium bans by Italian police.

AC Milan players briefly left the pitch during their match away to Udinese on January 20 after alerting referee Fabio Maresca to the abuse being directed at their goalkeeper.

On Wednesday, the office of Udine police commissioner Alfredo D’Agostino announced that four people had been identified using security cameras from the stadium.

“There are four people, three men and one woman, aged between 32 and 45, against whom the police commissioner of Udine has issued banning orders for the duration of five years,” a statement said.

A five-year ban is the maximum penalty that can be handed to first-time offenders for racist abuse at football matches in Italy.

Udinese announced on Monday that one fan had been banned for life over the incident, and the club had said that any other offenders who were identified would face the same penalty.

On Tuesday, the club were ordered to play one match behind closed doors by Serie A’s sports judge, Gerardo Mastrandrea.

That judgement said the one-match stadium closure was the minimum sanction which could have been imposed, and was chosen to reflect Udinese’s active stance and willingness right from the start to identify those responsible.

Speaking after the game, which restarted after a delay of around 10 minutes, Maignan told Milan TV: “I heard them making monkey noises.

“After it happened a second time, I went to the dugout to inform them of what had happened behind the goal.

“This shouldn’t exist in the world of football, but unfortunately for many years this is a recurrence. We all have to react, we must do something because you can’t play like this.”

Udinese have been ordered to play one match behind closed doors after AC Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan was racially abused during a Serie A match on Saturday.

The sanction has been imposed by the league’s sports judge, Gerardo Mastrandrea.

The judgement states the one-match stadium closure was the minimum sanction which could have been imposed, and was chosen to reflect Udinese’s active stance and willingness right from the start to identify those responsible.

The club announced on Monday they had banned a supporter for life for racially abusing Maignan.

Victor Osimhen put his social media storm with Napoli to one side to help his club return to winning ways with a 4-1 victory over Udinese.

Last season’s Scudetto winners entered this fixture after a three-match winless run in Serie A, which had turned up the heat on new boss Rudi Garcia.

Osimhen’s missed penalty in last weekend’s stalemate at Bologna was followed by a bizarre post on Napoli’s official TikTok account.

It appeared to mock the Nigeria international but, while the forward threatened to take legal action, Osimhen brushed off the scrutiny to end his four-game goal drought with a smart finish in the 39th minute in Naples to fire the hosts up to seventh in the table.

After the spot-kick drama of Sunday, it took Napoli only a quarter of an hour to be awarded another penalty when Khvicha Kvaratskhelia was fouled inside the area.

VAR was called and eventually the penalty was awarded, but instead of Osimhen it was Piotr Zielinski who took responsibility and he rolled into the bottom corner after 19 minutes to make it 1-0 at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

Garcia’s out-of-form side were firmly in the ascendancy now with Kvaratskhelia, Osimhen and Mario Rui forcing saves from Marco Silvestri in the Udinese goal.

 

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Silvestri had no answer to Osimhen in the 39th minute when Matteo Politano slipped through last season’s leading marksman and Napoli’s number nine drilled into the net for his fourth goal this season.

Osimhen was initially reluctant to celebrate but after some anxious glances towards the assistant referee, no offside flag was raised and he embraced his team-mates while feeling the support of a raucous home crowd.

Further applause followed in the 63rd minute when Osimhen was replaced by Giovanni Simeone, who would find the net but not before Kvaratskhelia.

Georgian attacker Kvaratskhelia had endured a difficult start to the season and would have been grateful for the gift from away defender Jaka Bijol.

A poor touch by Bijol allowed Kvaratskhelia to steal in and win possession before he beat Silvestri to the loose ball and was able to open his account for the season from close range in the 74th minute.

Lazar Samardzic reduced the deficit in the 80th minute but, seconds later, Kvaratskhelia turned provider again when his excellent run and cross found Simeone, who headed low into the net to wrap up the scoring on a much-needed positive night for the champions.

Juventus missed the chance to finish sixth in Serie A despite Federico Chiesa's strike sealing a 1-0 victory over Udinese at Dacia Arena.

After Paulo Dybala's late penalty helped Roma to a 2-1 victory over Spezia, Massimiliano Allegri's side were unable to leapfrog the Giallorossi and were forced to settle for a seventh-place finish in the league.

Chiesa's second-half strike was the difference for Juve, who were deducted 10 points for violating financial rules earlier in a rollercoaster campaign, but they suffered their lowest finish in Serie A for 12 years.

Meanwhile, Udinese finished 12th in Serie A following their 10th defeat in 12 meetings with the Old Lady. 

Udinese had lost their last three but went close after just four minutes when Beto somehow headed Florian Thauvin's cross over from inside the six-yard box.

Federico Chiesa’s deflected effort hit the side-netting before Juve saw a headed opportunity go begging as Leonardo Bonucci nodded against the crossbar from seven yards out following Arkadiusz Milik's flick-on.

Chiesa continued to cause Udinese problems down the left flank, yet the sides headed into half-time goalless after a profligate showing from both teams.

Juve squandered a great chance to break the deadlock just after the hour mark, Adrien Rabiot firing wide despite being found by Milik in acres of space inside the box.

But the visitors eventually opened the scoring in the 68th minute, Chiesa receiving the ball from Manuel Locatelli before bending a brilliant shot into the bottom-right corner.

Locatelli and Angel Di Maria went close to extending the advantage and though the single goal was enough, former Juve forward Dybala was to snatch sixth place for Roma from under his old club's nose.

Sampdoria have been relegated from Serie A for the first time in over a decade following a 2-0 defeat at Udinese.

First-half goals from Roberto Pereyra and Adam Masina proved enough to confirm the visitors’ fate with four games of the season still to go.

Relegation may prove to be the least of their worries as the club continues to battle a financial crisis which has led to fears of bankruptcy.

Sampdoria won the Scudetto in 1991 and reached the European Cup final at Wembley the following year, when a team featuring the likes of Roberto Mancini and Gianluca Vialli lost 1-0 to Barcelona.

They have been uninterrupted members of the Italian top-flight since the 2012-13 season, but have increasingly struggled in recent years amid financial concerns.

Meanwhile, Empoli effectively guaranteed their survival as goals from Nicolo Cambiagni and Francesco Caputo secured a 2-1 win over Salernitana, for whom Krzysztof Piatek replied late on.

Napoli sealed their first Serie A title in 33 years as Victor Osimhen's strike earned a 1-1 draw against Udinese.

Having missed the chance to win the title in front of their own fans on Sunday, Napoli went into Thursday's clash at Dacia Arena knowing a point would be enough to claim their first Scudetto since the Diego Maradona era.

Fittingly, it was talisman Osimhen – with his 22nd league strike of the season – who scored the goal to claim Napoli's third Serie A crown, cancelling out Sandi Lovric's opener.

Unlike Napoli's local rivals Salernitana, Udinese did not quite have the same commitment to postponing Napoli's party, which is sure to be one for the ages.

Napoli's contingent of travelling fans were making all the noise in the opening stages, though their enthusiasm was dampened when Lovric planted a brilliant finish into the top-right corner in the 13th minute.

Aiming to snap a three-game scoreless streak in Serie A, Osimhen forced a save from Marco Silvestri soon after, while partner in crime Khvicha Kvaratskhelia had a penalty appeal dismissed following a VAR review.

Osimhen went close with a header just after the half-hour, though Napoli were fortunate that Lovric had been unable to beat Alex Meret for a second time at the other end a moment earlier.

Napoli's number nine would not be denied again, though, and after Silvestri palmed out Kvaratskhelia's low effort, Osimhen slammed home an equaliser seven minutes into the second half.

Osimhen thought he had made it 2-1 with 23 minutes remaining, only for the goal to be disallowed due to a foul in the build-up.

Luciano Spalletti's tension on the touchline was clear, but his team stayed calm on the pitch as they saw out a draw that will go down in their history.

Napoli's Serie A clash with Salernitana this weekend has been rescheduled by one day due to public security concerns, it has been confirmed.

The Partenopei had been set to play on Saturday, but will now take to the pitch at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona on Sunday instead.

The move comes with Luciano Spalletti's side poised to win the Scudetto if Lazio fail to beat Inter at San Siro during an earlier kick-off the same day.

Serie A's decision to postpone the fixture, however, has forced a further reshuffle for Napoli's fixture list, with their game against Udinese affected.

Originally due to take place on Tuesday, the game will now be played two days later on Thursday, in what could be their first game as champions.

It also means Udinese have suffered a further postponement of their own, with their clash against Sampdoria delayed by a day from a week on Sunday to the Monday afterwards.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was "proud" to become Serie A's oldest goalscorer, but it was little consolation after Milan were beaten 3-1 at Udinese.

Aged 41 years and 166 days, Ibrahimovic's penalty in first-half stoppage time at Stadio Friuli saw him overtake former Milan defender Alessandro Costacurta (41 years and 25 days – May 2007).

Ibrahimovic – who captained Milan – slammed his spot-kick down the middle of the goal after being fortunately allowed to retake it, having seen his initial effort saved by Marco Silvestri before the VAR ordered it to be taken again after Udinese's Beto had encroached.

That equalised Roberto Pereyra's ninth-minute strike, but Beto restored Udinese's lead just two minutes after Milan levelled, before Kingsley Ehizibue wrapped things up in the second half.

"It would have been much better if Costacurta had kept this record," Ibrahimovic said to Sky Sport Italia after the game. "I am proud to enter the history of this club which is a great club where many great players have passed and that means a lot to me.

"This goal didn't bring three points in my first as captain and unfortunately the game didn't go as we wanted. I felt very well, I haven't played in the starting line-up for 14 months, the important thing is to feel good and if I'm as good as today, I can play, I have no doubts about that."

The Rossoneri have suffered seven defeats in the league, five of which have come in their last nine games, having lost just four on their way to winning the Scudetto last season.

Ibrahimovic suggested that teams have been putting a bit more effort in against Milan this season as the defending champions.

"Playing as the Italian champions means that each team faces you as if it were a final, it's different from last year," he said. "This year we have more pressure in all matches, it's normal but you have to be ready because everyone wants to beat you.

"This team doesn't have the experience of playing as champions of Italy, we can't have the same high performance in all the games, but that's not an excuse, it's just an explanation to understand the situation."

Stefano Pioli says Milan will do what is necessary to rediscover their form, but admitted his team "started badly and ended worse" as they were beaten 3-1 at Udinese on Saturday.

The Rossoneri fell behind early to a Roberto Pereyra goal at Stadio Friuli, before a twice-taken Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty pulled them level as the 41-year-old became Serie A's oldest ever goalscorer.

However, Beto restored Udinese's lead just two minutes later and Kingsley Ehizibue added a third in the second half to give the Friulani their first home win in the league since beating Inter in September.

It made it three league games without a win for Milan, and five defeats in their last nine to leave the defending champions 20 points behind league leaders Napoli having played a game more.

"We will do what is necessary to return to playing the football that suits us best and that we are capable of playing," Pioli said after the game. "... There were no signs of a drop in intensity, instead we started badly and ended up worse.

"This is the reality, we have to work. Of course, we can't win the Scudetto but we can win the mini-championship of those fighting for the Champions League, we will be able to analyse and return to play as we know how."

 

The 57-year-old lamented his team for not being "aggressive, intense, precise, attentive", saying that meant he had "worked badly, making a mistake preparation. We have fallen too far below our means."

Defeat leaves them just a place and a point ahead of fifth-placed Roma, who have a game in hand, but questions were asked whether this season's Champions League campaign has proved to be a distraction.

Milan reached the quarter-finals after beating Tottenham and were drawn to face Napoli in the last eight on Friday.

"It's not like that, it would be serious if we were already thinking about the Champions League," Pioli insisted. "Getting in the first four places is too important.

"The levels of the last performances are not good, if we are less technical and organised, we play games like this. I am disappointed with our work, we have achieved too little in the last three games.

"There is always concern, now we have to take advantage of the [international] break to raise the level of play, attention, determination."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's landmark Serie A goal was the only highlight of a poor display for Milan as they were beaten 3-1 at Udinese on Saturday.

On his first start since January 2022 following his recovery from a knee injury, Ibrahimovic became the oldest goalscorer in Serie A history, overtaking Milan legend Alessandro Costacurta.

The 41-year-old converted a penalty at the second attempt in first-half stoppage time, cancelling out Roberto Pereyra's opener at Stadio Friuli, yet Udinese nevertheless went into the break with the lead thanks to Beto's effort two minutes later.

Kingsley Ehizibue added a third in the 70th minute, sealing eighth-placed Udinese's first home league win since they defeated Inter in September.

Udinese took the lead after just nine minutes when Ismael Bennacer's pass was intercepted after Fikayo Tomori was caught napping - Lazar Samardzic teeing up Pereyra, who rolled the ball into the far corner.

Milan were given a golden chance to equalise just before half-time though when Jaka Bijol was judged to have handled the ball in as he tried to dispossess Rafael Leao in Udinese's area.

Marco Silvestri initially saved well from Ibrahimovic's penalty down to his left, but Beto's encroachment handed the Sweden forward another chance, and he duly smashed straight down the middle.

Beto swiftly made amends, though, benefiting from Isaac Success' fine work to restore the hosts' lead.

Milan's comeback hopes were dented further when Ehizibue turned the ball in from Destiny Udogie's mishit shot.

Rade Krunic lashed over from Milan's best subsequent chance, as their rough form continued.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic became the oldest goalscorer in Serie A history amid scenes of high drama as the 41-year-old netted a twice-taken penalty in Saturday's clash with Udinese.

At the age of 41 years and 166 days, the veteran Sweden international beat a record previously held by Alessandro Costacurta, the former Milan defender, who was 41 years and 25 days old when he scored, also against Udinese, in May 2007.

Ibrahimovic was making his first start in the Italian top flight since January 23, 2022, having undergone career-extending knee surgery at the end of last season's Scudetto campaign.

His goal was an equaliser for Stefano Pioli's team shortly before half-time at Stadio Friuli, with Jaka Bijol ruled to have handled the ball in the penalty area as he tried to tackle Rafael Leao.

Marco Silvestri saved well from Ibrahimovic's spot-kick, going down to his left, but encroachment from Udinese striker Beto meant the spot-kick had to be re-taken.

Udinese were furious, with head coach Andrea Sottil sent off for his protestations, but this time Ibrahimovic was clinical, smashing his kick straight down the centre.

Two minutes later, in the sixth minute of stoppage time, Milan slipped 2-1 behind when Beto made up for his encroachment offence by finishing past Mike Maignan from an Isaac Success cross.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is in contention to start for Milan against Udinese on Saturday as the 41-year-old looks to lift Stefano Pioli's' struggling champions.

The striker, recalled by Sweden this week, has recovered from major knee surgery and come through three substitute appearances.

Now the veteran is a prime contender to line up from the first whistle as Milan are forced to cope without the suspended Olivier Giroud in their last game before the international break.

Ibrahimovic is already the oldest player to feature for Milan in a Serie A game during the three-points-for-a-win era (since 1994-95), and Pioli would have no doubts about his readiness.

"Zlatan is calm; he wants to play and win every game," Pioli said on Friday. "He's feeling good, but I don't think he's got 90 minutes in him. He could start, as could Divock [Origi] and Ante [Rebic]."

Ibrahimovic has been involved in five goals in his last four games against Udinese in Serie A (3 goals, 2 assists) and is looking to start a game in Serie A for the first time since January 23, 2022, when he faced Juventus.

Winger Rafael Leao should keep his place despite what Pioli described as a "strange situation" on Monday, when the Portugal international put in a flat performance in the 1-1 draw with Salernitana, a result that followed defeat to Fiorentina in Milan's previous league game.

Coach Pioli is surprised by how little impact Leao is having at times, but he expects him to come good.

"Rafa is training really well. He's very motivated and determined, and he remains an important figure in our attack because, even if he's not scoring, he keeps opposition defences occupied," Pioli said.

"My advice to him would be to stay close to those who care deeply for him and want to help him grow. Goals and decisive pieces of play are expected from him, but, as previously mentioned, he's dangerous even when he doesn't score."

Ibrahimovic was left off Milan's Champions League squad list, so Pioli must plan without him for the quarter-final against runaway Serie A leaders Napoli.

That was the match-up that came out of Friday's draw, and it is not one that intimidates the Rossoneri, who have won Europe's premier club competition seven times.

Quoted on Milan's official website, Pioli said: "Napoli are enjoying a great league campaign, but the Champions League is the Champions League and AC Milan are AC Milan. It's exciting and fascinating and our opponents are very strong, but we're deservedly part of it and have plenty of motivation and ambition.

"We'll play with the aim of making it through. We'll have time to talk about the Champions League, which is certainly an objective of ours, but, right now, doing well in our next three league games is crucial."

Milan sit fourth in Serie A, a point ahead of Roma who have a derby against third-placed Lazio coming up on Sunday.

Dropping points to mid-table Udinese would be a jarring way to enter the international break for the San Siro giants.

"It's not the break itself that will be important but how we head into it," said Pioli, "meaning tomorrow's result will be vital."

The rapid rise of Napoli centre-back Kim Min-jae has not gone unnoticed, with Manchester United reportedly investigating a potential transfer for the end of the season.

Kim, 26, played in Korea and China until he was 24 years old, eventually catching the eye of Fenerbahce, who purchased him for a €3million fee.

After one season in Turkey, Napoli scooped him up for €18m, and he has played a big part in their best season in the 21st century. He has played in 22 of runaway leaders Napoli's 23 Serie A matches this campaign, starting all of them.

The powerfully-built defender has emerged as one of the league's top talents, and unfortunately for Napoli, he has a surprisingly affordable release clause in his contract.

 

TOP STORY – MANCHESTER UNITED DISCUSS ACTIVATING KIM'S RELEASE CLAUSE

According to Calciomercato, United have been targeting Kim for months, and have been in contact with his agents to gauge his interest in a potential Premier League move.

Kim reportedly has a £44m (€50m) release clause in his contract, but Napoli officials are desperate to award him a new contract to at least raise that figure to their valuation of £61m (€70m).

United are expected to make him a primary target at the end of the season.

 

ROUND-UP

– Football London is reporting Arsenal have made 24-year-old West Ham midfielder Declan Rice their top target after acknowledging they will not be in the running for Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham.

– According to the Evening Standard, Arsenal will have to battle Juventus, Borussia Dortmund and Newcastle United to secure 18-year-old Real Valladolid full-back Ivan Fresneda in the next transfer window, with his £26.5m (€30m) release clause drawing plenty of interest.

Chelsea will allow midfielder Mason Mount to leave before the beginning of next season if he does not agree to a new contract, per The Athletic.

– Sport Witness is reporting Everton had a £22m (€25m) offer for 25-year-old Udinese forward Beto rejected late in the January window, and it is believed they could return with an improved bid. 

– According to Football Insider, Tottenham are viewed as the favourites to land 26-year-old Leicester City midfielder James Maddison, who will be allowed to leave the club if he does not sign an extension.

Simone Inzaghi hailed the improvements made by Romelu Lukaku after his penalty helped them to a 3-1 win over Udinese.

Lukaku opened the scoring in the 20th minute after Denzel Dumfries was adjudged by the VAR to have been brought down by Walace.

The Belgium international saw his first effort saved by Marco Silvestri, but the goalkeeper was ruled to have strayed off his line and Lukaku made no mistake with his second attempt.

His strike ended a 189-day drought in Serie A for Lukaku, his previous goal coming way back in August against Lecce.

Sandi Lovric levelled for Udinese but a superb Henrikh Mkhitaryan volley and a late Lautaro Martinez goal gave Inter the points.

Lukaku has seen much of his season hindered by a hamstring injury, but Inzaghi is full of belief in the on-loan Chelsea striker now his fitness issues appear to be behind him.

Inzaghi told Sky Sport Italia: "Lukaku is improving day by day, game by game, training session by training session.

"We have great faith in Rom. He had a few problems last season in London, we brought him back here and then he had this serious injury that troubled him for four months.

"If he is starting games, that means he is in good shape and playing will help him strengthen that form."

Inter are 15 points behind Serie A leaders Napoli, but the win over Udinese allows them to go into Wednesday's Champions League tie with Porto on a high.

"We knew Udinese are a very physical side with good technique who cause you a lot of problems, as we already saw in the reverse fixture," he added.

"It was a good first half with the only setback being the goal we conceded, when we should've been more focused on the loose ball.

"I am glad with the result, it is an important victory that allows us to keep going."

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