Fiorentina head coach Vincenzo Italiano said Dusan Vlahovic is destined for greatness after the in-demand Serbia international scored twice to sink previously unbeaten Milan 4-3 in Serie A.

After helping Serbia qualify for the 2022 World Cup during the international break, Vlahovic scored a brace as Fiorentina stunned high-flying Milan in Florence on Saturday.

Only Bayern Munich talisman Robert Lewandowski (38) has scored more goals than Vlahovic (27) since the start of 2021 in the big-five European leagues. 

Vlahovic – who is set to leave the Viola after opting against signing a new deal – also equalled Kurt Hamrin (1960) as the Fiorentina player with the most Serie A goals scored in a calendar year.

 

The 21-year-old has been linked with Premier League champions Manchester City, Tottenham, Arsenal, Inter, Atletico Madrid and Bundesliga holders Bayern as Italiano lauded the forward.

"He is destined to a great career, not because he scores goals and knows how to play, but because of the way he trains," Italiano told Sky Sport Italia.

"It's extraordinary to watch him train, he takes all that with him into the match situation.

"We'll see what happens in future, but right now he is working so hard and giving the team everything.

 

"I've said many times, Dusan is not thinking about anything other than preparing for these games. You see his approach and impact.

"He knows everything depends on performances and has the character of a veteran."

Stefano Pioli is confident his Milan side will learn from a "painful" loss to Fiorentina after their unbeaten start to the Serie A campaign came to an end at Stadio Artemio Franchi.

Milan fell to a 4-3 defeat in Saturday's thrilling contest as they missed out on the chance to move three points clear of Napoli, who play their game in hand at Inter on Sunday.

The Rossoneri last tasted defeat in the top flight 18 games ago against Lazio in April, while not since August 2015 had they lost away to Fiorentina in the league.

Pioli's side were without a number of players through injury, including Fikayo Tomori, Davide Calabria, Ante Rebic and Mike Maignan, and that told in a poor display.

A mix-up between back-up goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu and Matteo Gabbia gifted Joseph Alfred Duncan the opening goal, which ex-Milan player Riccardo Saponara added to before half-time.

Dusan Vlahovic also scored twice, either side of a Zlatan Ibrahimovic double that had set up a tense period in the game, before Lorenzo Venuti put into his own net from the last action of the game.

Milan have now taken just one point from their last two games, having previously been held by Inter, but Pioli is hopeful his side will bounce back.

"We have to feel the pain of this defeat and make sure it doesn't happen again," he told Sky Sport Italia. "Even in this defeat I am convinced that I have a very strong team. 

"We have to learn from this. Losing hurts, as does conceding four goals. We showed that we are able to recover, but perhaps we could have done without conceding the fourth. 

"The team played as a team and with rhythm. Sometimes we missed the last pass. We had twice as many shots as our opponents, so the performance was there. 

"We are sorry because after the international break we wanted to restart with a victory."

 

Ibrahimovic became the oldest player – and the first over 40 – to score two or more goals in a single game in Europe's top five leagues this century with his double.

However, Vlahovic stole the show with a brace of his own as he made it 27 Serie A goals in 2021, equalling Kurt Hamrin (in 1960) for the most in a calendar year for Fiorentina

Indeed, only Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski (38) has scored more goals than Vlahovic (27) since the start of 2021 in the big five European leagues. 

The Serbia international has been linked with a number of the continent's big-name clubs, but Viola boss Vincenzo Italiano wants his side to make the most of the rising star while they can.

"Right now he is a player destined for an important career, not only because he knows how to score but because of how he trains," Italiano told Sky Sport Italia. 

"If he stays this same player he is destined for a great career. I don't know what his future will be, but for now we enjoy it. In this game he was loaded with buckshot and I'm happy for him."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice but was unable to rescue Milan as their unbeaten start in Serie A ended with a thrilling 4-3 loss at Fiorentina on Saturday.

The Rossoneri had made their best start to a top-flight season in the three-points-per win era after 12 matches and had a chance to move clear at the top of the table, but ​their 17-game unbeaten run in the league stretching back into last season was halted at Stadio Artemio Franchi.

Joseph Alfred Duncan profited from a calamitous mix-up between Ciprian Tatarusanu and Matteo Gabbia to fire the hosts ahead, before former Milan player Riccardo Saponara curled in a sensational second shortly before half-time.

Dusan Vlahovic extended Fiorentina's advantage, and while Ibrahimovic struck twice in five minutes to set up a tense period, the Serbia international notched his 14th league goal of the season to render Lorenzo Venuti's late own goal nothing more than a consolation.

Milan found themselves behind with 15 minutes played in rather comical circumstances as Tatarusanu spilled a corner and Gabbia attempted to shield the ball for his goalkeeper, but Alfred Duncan got to it first and prodded in from close range. 

Pietro Terracciano frustrated Milan with a couple of impressive stops and Ibrahimovic diverted wide from inside the six-yard box – a miss that would prove costly as Saponara bent a delightful 25-yard shot away from Tatarusanu into the top-right corner.

Vlahovic added a third against the run of play after an hour with a composed finish from a tight angle once played in by Alfred Duncan, but Milan were soon back in the game through Ibrahimovic's double.

The striker profited from a loose Giacomo Bonaventura pass to thump past Terracciano and then turned home Theo Hernandez's cut-back to leave Fiorentina sweating.

Venuti put into his own net deep into added time after Ibrahimovic's header hit the woodwork and ricocheted in off his face, but only after Vlahovic had settled any nerves with his second of the match in the 85th minute.

 

 

Jesse Lingard's future does not appear to be with current club Manchester United.

Contract talks between Lingard and United have reportedly broken down.

The England international has only played eight times in all competitions this season, starting just once.

 

TOP STORY –  LINGARD SET FOR JANUARY SWITCH

Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard will make a £10million move to West Ham in January, according to The Sun.

The Red Devils are said to be looking to cash in on the 28-year-old England international before he is out of contract at the end of this season.

Lingard impressed during a six-month loan spell with the Hammers in the second half of last season, with nine goals and four assists.

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- Tottenham are also interested in signing Lingard on a free transfer in the off-season, according to the Daily Express.

- United are prepared to sell Diogo Dalot to Roma in order to facilitate a deal for Atletico Madrid's England full-back Kieran Trippier, claims the Manchester Evening News.

- Marca claims that Real Madrid are ramping up their pursuit of Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger, who is out of contract at the end of this season. Bayern Munich are also said to be tracking the Germany international.

- Promising young Argentina international Julian Alvarez is being monitored by Italian powerhouse pair Juventus and Milan, reports Calciomercato. Alvarez, who has four Argentina caps, is currently with River Plate who will wait until December to evaluate any offers.

Arsenal could look to offload Nicolas Pepe in the January transfer window.

The 26-year-old has not lived up to his billing after being signed in 2019.

Pepe has scored once in nine appearances for the Gunners this season.

 

TOP STORY – MILAN SET FOR JANUARY PEPE SWOOP

Italian giants Milan are interested in signing Arsenal's Ivorian winger Nicolas Pepe, claims Il Milanista.

Pepe has more than two years to run on his Gunners deal, having joined on a five-year contract from Lille in 2019 for a club-record fee of £72 million (€79m).

Arsenal may be willing to let Pepe go for a little as £25m in January.

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- Chelsea's Spanish full-back Cesar Azpilicueta is on Barcelona's transfer radar, according to SPORT. The 32-year-old's contract expires at the end of this season.

- Tottenham have joined Inter in having an interest in signing Bayern Munich midfielder Corentin Tolisso, claims Kicker. Tolisso is out of contract at the end of this season.

- Fabrizio Romano reports that talks between Gavi and Barcelona on a five-year contract extension are progressing amid interest in the Spanish teenager from Chelsea.

- Jose Mourinho's Roma are considering a move to sign Atletico Madrid's Mexico international midfielder Hector Herrera in January, claims Calciomercato. Atletico are willing to cash in on Herrera, who is out of contract in mid-2022.

- Manchester City target Theo Hernandez is close to completing a contract renewal with Milan, according to Rudy Galetti. The Rossoneri have reached an agreement with him until 2026.

- FotoMac claims Mohamed Elneny's agent has reached an agreement with Arsenal for the Egyptian to leave in January. He was previously linked with Galatasaray.

- Lens midfielder Seko Fofana has been added to Newcastle United's shortlist of transfer targets, claims Foot Mercato.

Paul Pogba's future continues to make headlines.

With his contract expiring, it remains to be seen whether he will remain at Manchester United.

United are believed to be ready to move on as Real Madrid lurk.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID READY TO POUNCE FOR POGBA

Manchester United have given up on keeping Pogba and Real Madrid have a "great opportunity" to sign the Frenchman, according to the front page of Thursday's Marca.

Pogba is out of contract at the end of the season and the United star is no closer to a renewal at Old Trafford.

Madrid are continuing to circle Pogba, who has also been linked with former club Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona.

 

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- Sport claims Barca are eyeing moves for Chelsea's Hakim Ziyech and Bayern Munich star Kingsley Coman. Out-of-favour Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling and RB Leipzig's Dani Olmo have also been linked.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will extend his contract at Milan until 2023, reports Gazzetta dello Sport.

Chelsea are interested in signing Leicester City defender Wesley Fofana, says Foot Mercato. The 20-year-old is yet to play this season due to a serious leg injury.

- El Nacional reports Madrid and Chelsea will go head-to-head to land Monaco star Aurelien Tchouameni. The France international is also reportedly wanted by Juve, City, United, Liverpool, Bayern and Newcastle United.

Newcastle are eyeing Inter duo Stefan de Vrij and Marcelo Brozovic and Lazio goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha, per The Times.

It appears Raheem Sterling's future is away from Manchester City.

Down the pecking order, Sterling has been linked with Barcelona.

City, however, are believed to want a player as part of any deal.

 

TOP STORY – STERLING OUT, TER STEGEN IN?

Manchester City are interested in a swap deal that could see Raheem Sterling move to Barcelona in exchange for Marc-Andre ter Stegen, according to El Nacional.

Barca are reportedly trying to bring Sterling to Camp Nou, with the England international struggling for regular game time at the Premier League champions.

Pep Guardiola had previously tried to bring Frenkie de Jong to Manchester but Barca were not keen, though the City manager is now interested in goalkeeper Ter Stegen – who has been linked with Bayern Munich in the past.

 

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Real Madrid plan to extend Luka Modric's contract for one more season, reports Marca. The 36-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season. He has previously been linked with Milan and Inter.

- Diario AS claims Barcelona are eyeing a move for Spain and Chelsea star Cesar Azpilicueta. The 32-year-old is out of contract at season's end.

- Gazzetta dello Sport claims Milan are accelerating their efforts to sign Lille and Portugal star Renato Sanches. It comes amid uncertainty over soon-to-be free agent Franck Kessie, who is tipped to leave Milan following reported interest from the likes of Manchester UnitedBarcaParis Saint-GermainTottenham and Inter. Sanches has also been suggested as a target for Liverpool and Wolves.

- Calciomercato claims CityLiverpoolJuventus and Roma are targeting Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Denis Zakaria.

- Serie A champions Inter are pushing to sign Eintracht Frankfurt's Filip Kostic, per Gazzetta dello sport. Inter tried to prise the winger from Eintracht at the start of the season.

Real Madrid are trying to offload a pair of veterans to Tottenham. 

Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale could be on the way out at the Santiago Bernabeu. 

Spurs are reportedly only interested in one of them.

 

TOP STORY – SPURS WEIGH BALE REUNION

Gareth Bale could be headed for a permanent return to Tottenham, El Nacional reports. 

Real Madrid have offered Bale and Eden Hazard to Spurs but head coach Antonio Conte is not interested in his former Chelsea player. 

However, Spurs may pounce for Bale at a reduced price before he is out of contract following the season.

 

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Manchester United are interested in adding France defender Jules Kounde to replace Harry Maguire, says Todofichajes, which reports Sevilla will demand €80million (£68m) in return. 

Donny van de Beek wants out at United, according to the Metro, and Birmingham Live says Wolves will make a strong push to sign the Dutch midfielder, with Everton and Newcastle United also rumoured suitors.

- Fiorentina are willing to sell Dusan Vlahovic in January if an interested club like Manchester City or Tottenham will pay £70m for the Serbia international, says the Sun. Vlahovic has also been linked with Bayern MunichAtletico Madrid, Juventus, Inter and Arsenal.

Milan have joined Chelsea and Atletico in pursuit of 17-year-old Angers striker Mohamed-Ali Cho, according to L'Equipe. 

Barcelona will extend 17-year-old Spain sensation Gavi's contract for five years, reports Fabrizio Romano. 

Dean Smith's appointment at Norwich City is expected to become official Monday, says The Guardian. 

What does the future hold for Kylian Mbappe?

The Paris Saint-Germain forward has long been tipped to join Real Madrid.

Madrid are reportedly preparing another approach for the France forward.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID PUSHING FOR MBAPPE

Real Madrid will make another move for Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, according to the front page of Friday's Mundo Deportivo.

Madrid have made no secret of their interest, while Mbappe – who will become a free agent at the end of the campaign – revealed he wanted to leave PSG for Los Blancos at the start of the season.

With Mbappe's contract winding down, LaLiga giants Madrid are stepping up their pursuit.

 

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- Mundo Deportivo and Sport claim Barcelona are closing in on the signing for Manchester City attacker Raheem Sterling. The England international has found himself down the pecking order in Manchester.

Arsenal are interested in Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic, but there have been no talks with the Serbia international's agents, reports Fabrizio Romano. Vlahovic is also wanted by City, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Inter and Tottenham.

- Staying at Emirates Stadium, Gianluca Di Marzio says Arsenal are ready to make a move for Juventus sensation Dejan Kulusevski.

Roma, Milan, Atalanta and Napoli are eyeing Sassuolo winger Jeremie Boga, per Foot Mercato.

- Milan are readying contract renewals for Theo Hernandez, Ismael Bennacer and Rafael Leao, claims Gazzetta dello Sport.

- According to The Sun, Manchester United are hoping to beat Barca to Milan midfielder Franck Kessie on a free transfer. Kessie has also been linked with PSG, Arsenal, Tottenham, Inter and Atletico.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is not thinking about retiring from professional football despite needing a physio to watch his every step.

Since returning to Milan in January 2020, Ibrahimovic has scored 30 goals and supplied nine assists in 54 games in all competitions. 

However, the striker has struggled with injuries and featured in only half of the Rossoneri's Serie A games in 2020-21, while he was forced to pull out of Euro 2020 duty with Sweden. 

Still, he became the fourth-oldest scorer in Serie A history this season when he struck against Bologna last month and took his domestic league tally to 400 versus Roma a week later.

Ibrahimovic acknowledged he has had to learn to listen to his body more and seek treatment as quickly as he can, though it has not made him think about hanging up his boots. 

"Last season I had more injuries than I usually have and have had before. But it's because I didn't think about taking it easy when I felt something, I just powered on. I have that mentality. I give 200 per cent," said Ibrahimovic. 

"After I turned 30, I noticed the pain does not go away, it just moves within the body. 

"What I have changed is that now I have a physio that follows me everywhere in Italy 24 hours a day. At the very least, he is right there poking. 

"That's the only change I made. As soon as I feel something, I want to take care of it immediately." 

He added: "We always want to play, but I have to find the right balance considering the injuries I've had. 

"You learn something new every day. I get to know by body better with every day that passes. But as my body ages, my head becomes younger and I look more handsome. 

"I haven't set a date to quit. I want to continue as long as possible and not think about when it will end. I don't want to be sad, like someone who quits thinking he could've played again." 

Ibrahimovic retired from international duty after Euro 2016 but has since returned to the fold, making his comeback for Sweden in March. 

An Achilles injury forced him to withdraw from the squad in the previous international break, but Sweden boss Janne Andersson has been impressed by his recovery. 

If Sweden beat Georgia on Thursday, they will go into their final World Cup qualifier against Spain three days later knowing a point will be enough for them to top Group B and book their place in Qatar – assuming La Roja beat Greece beforehand.

Andersson refused to confirm whether Ibrahimovic was ready to play in both games, though. 

"If we're talking about Zlatan and his physique, he has looked surprisingly good. Last night [the Milan derby] I think he looked fit – the matches before that too," said Andersson. 

"A few weeks ago he looked a bit rusty but he has looked great since, so we will see how much I will play him." 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's future is in doubt as Manchester United continue to struggle.

United were outclassed effortlessly by neighbours Manchester City in Saturday's Premier League derby.

Struggling for form, Solskjaer could pay the price at Old Trafford.

 

TOP STORY – SOLSKJAER SET FOR AXE?

Manchester United are considering the departure of under-fire manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, according to the Daily Mail.

Manchester City eased past United 2-0 in the Premier League derby showdown at Old Trafford, where Solskjaer's side were left sixth and nine points off the pace.

There are reports of a player revolt as Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo grow frustrated with life in Manchester.

Zinedine Zidane and Ajax boss Erik ten Hag have been linked as possible replacements.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims Real Madrid and Newcastle United are interested in Liverpool star Mohamed Salah. The Egypt international, who is contracted to Liverpool until 2023, is keen to sign a new deal at Anfield.

City are weighing up a move for Juventus and Netherlands centre-back Matthijs de Ligt, says El Nacional. De Ligt has also been linked with Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United.

Karim Benzema is open to joining Paris Saint-Germain should Madrid sign Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, per El Nacional. Benzema has reportedly snubbed a move to Newcastle, while Haaland has been linked with City, United, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, PSG, Chelsea and Juve.

Gerard PiqueSergio BusquetsSergi Roberto and Jordi Alba will be allowed to leave Barca under new head coach Xavi, according to El Nacional. Fabrizio Romano adds Xavi will look to re-sign Pablo Gavi and Ousmane Dembele.

- Calciomercato claims Atletico Madrid are interested in Udinese's Nahuel Molina, who is also wanted by Inter.

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.

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.

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