Rafael Leao fired a warning shot at the rest of Serie A on Saturday with his brace in AC Milan’s 3-2 derby triumph over Inter Milan, putting his team on a level with the front-runners. Naples2-1 winners at Lazio thanks to rising star Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.
Portuguese winger Leao struck twice in each half in a pulse-pounding duel at San Siro, the first since Milan’s takeover by US investment fund RedBird in the week, leaving the champions one point ahead of Atalanta and Roma at the top.
Fans bounced into the stands after a thrilling game of goals decided by Leao and Olivier Giroud, who mark two goals to the right on the hour after Marcel Brozovic’s 21st-minute opener for Inter Milan.
“If you want to improve, you need talent and intelligence and Leao has both,” Milan coach said Stefano Pioli.
“Every time we put him in one-on-one situations, he’s a huge weapon for us.”
But they also had the great Mike Maignan to thank for the three points after the French goalkeeper made four great stops from Lautaro Martinez, Edin Dzeko – also a goalscorer – and Hakan Calhanoglu.
Leao’s second came after a mesmerizing bit of dribbling and close control, and now that the transfer window has closed and the rumors of Chelsea have subsided, he becomes the key to Milan’s Champions League campaign that starts on Tuesday in Salzburg.
A second loss in five games leaves an Inter team without the injured Romelu Lukaku in sixth and with Bayern Munich coming to town on Wednesday night.
Napoli lead Milan on goal difference as new boy Khvicha Kvaratskhelia continued his sensational start in Italy with the winner in Lazio, seventh after their first loss of the season.
The 21-year-old, who also hit the post and missed another big chance before scoring, has captured the fans’ imaginations with a string of decisive displays and will be one of Napoli’s main weapons when they host Liverpool in their Champions League on Wednesday League opener .
“Going into Wednesday’s game with a win is positive, we know we are facing a brilliant team and we have these three days to prepare… We will try to put in a great performance on Wednesday too, said Captain Giovanni Di Lorenzo to DAZN.
Luciano Spalletti’s side are unbeaten on 11 points thanks to a hard-fought victory in Rome, where they fought back from behind just three minutes after Mattia Zaccagni’s perfected opener for the hosts.
The away team tied the score seven minutes before half-time via Kim Min-Jae, whose thumping header from a Piotr Zielinski corner went just over the line, despite the efforts of Lazio stopper Ivan Provedel.
And Georgia international Kvaratskhelia scored Napoli’s dominant winner and his fourth of the season in the 61st minute when he met Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa’s low withdrawal with a thumping effort against which Provedel could do nothing.
Napoli’s win was marred by losing Hirving Lozano in the first half to a nasty head injury, with later reports pointing to a possible facial fracture.
Juventus are on nine points with Inter after a disappointing 1-1 draw at Fiorentina.
They were lucky to have left Florence with a draw, as after Arkadiusz Milik gave the away team a nine-minute lead, Christian Kouame tied the score midway through the first half and Mattia Perin pushed Luka Jovic’s penalty onto the post. just before rest.
“The lads played well, I saw good stakes and we kept our five-game unbeaten run going,” said Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri, who is under pressure from supporters after a series of dull displays.
Juve had new signing Leandro Paredes – who conceded the missed penalty – made his first start as Angel Di Maria returned after recovering from a thigh injury, but they lacked spark in their third draw out of five league games.
A poor performance in which Milik’s goal was their only shot on target does not bode well for Juve as they go into Tuesday’s Group H Champions League opener at Paris Saint-Germain.