AC Milan beats Lazio 3-1 in Inzaghi’s 1st game
MILAN (AP) — AC Milan got off to a great start under new coach Filippo Inzaghi as it eased to a 3-1 win over Lazio in its Serie A opener on Sunday.
Goals from Keisuke Honda and Sulley Muntari and a penalty from Jeremy Menez gave Milan a comfortable lead before Lazio pulled one back with an own goal from new Rossoneri signing Alex.
New Milan goalkeeper Diego Lopez saved Antonio Candreva’s penalty in stoppage time.
It was a convincing performance from Milan, which showed how little it missed star striker Mario Balotelli, who moved to Liverpool last week.
Balotelli’s replacement, Fernando Torres, was watching in the stands at San Siro after completing his two-year loan move from Chelsea.
“I’m happy, I saw a good spirit,” Inzaghi said. “We have to improve our game but the team is coming off the back of a difficult season. Results like this are good for them. I hope we can be the surprise of the season.”
Inter Milan’s new signing Nemanja Vidic had a less than impressive Serie A debut as he gave away a penalty and was sent off in stoppage time in his side’s 0-0 draw at Torino.
Jonathan de Guzman had a better debut as his last-gasp goal saw Napoli snatch a late 2-1 win at Genoa, while 10-man Sampdoria also scored late to draw 1-1 against newly promoted-Palermo.
Andrea Stramaccioni got off to a winning start at Udinese with a 2-0 win over promoted side Empoli — with veteran striker Antonio Di Natale scoring twice — while new Cagliari coach Zdenek Zeman drew 1-1 at Sassuolo.
Elsewhere it was: Atalanta 0, Hellas Verona 0; and Cesena 1, Parma 0.
It was Inzaghi’s debut as first team coach after he was promoted from the club’s youth sector, replacing another former Milan great, Clarence Seedorf.
The 41-year-old had the perfect start as Milan took the lead with less than seven minutes on the clock. Stephan El Shaarawy burst down the left flank with a brilliant run before putting a delightful ball into the area for an unmarked Honda to slot past Lazio goalkeeper Etrit Berisha.
More poor Lazio defending allowed Milan to double its lead in the 56th minute. There were four Lazio defenders surrounding Muntari in the box, but they all failed to pick him up as he volleyed home Ignazio Abate’s cross.
Milan further extended its advantage shortly after the hour mark when Menez was brought down by Stefan de Vrij. Menez, who had been signed from Paris Saint-Germain in the offseason, notched a debut goal with a perfectly placed penalty into the bottom left corner.
Lazio got one back minutes later in chaotic circumstances as Alex got the final touch on Candreva’s cross toward Filip Djordjevic.
It almost grabbed another consolation deep into stoppage time when Candreva was brought down by Abate, but Lopez saved the resulting penalty.
In Genoa, Napoli was keen to get its Serie A campaign off to a good start after its Champions League playoff defeat to Athletic Bilbao.
Jose Callejon gave it the lead in the third minute when he volleyed home Gonzalo Higuain’s cross to the far post.
Genoa pressed hard for the equalizer and found it five minutes from halftime when Mauricio Pinilla — who had been denied several times by Napoli goalkeeper Rafael — headed in Giovanni Marchese’s cross.
Napoli seemed to be heading for a draw before De Guzman netted in the fifth minute of stoppage time.
Torino went close to taking the lead when it was awarded a penalty after Vidic brought down Fabio Quagliarella.
However, Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic is known for his skill at saving penalties and he kept out Marcelo Larrondo’s spot kick.
Vidic was sent off in stoppage time for sarcastically applauding the referee.
“It definitely wasn’t a penalty,” Inter coach Walter Mazzarri said. “We should have had one that was a lot clearer. The referee committed a blunder with Vidic. As they do in England, Vidic applauded a foul that was signaled and the referee interpreted it badly. It’s an absurd red card.”
Di Natale had said in the offseason he wanted to break the 200-goal mark for Udinese in Serie A and he got his campaign off to a great start with a double at home against his former team Empoli to take his tally to 195 topflight goals.
There are only seven players who have scored more Serie A goals than Di Natale, who is in his 11th season at Udinese.