Milan and Juve win, as Serie A condemns anti-Semitism
MILAN (AP) — AC Milan and Juventus swept to comfortable victories on a night in Serie A that will be remembered for readings from Anne Frank’s diary and a minute’s silence before every match as Italian soccer sought to condemn anti-Semitism on Wednesday.
The nationwide action came three days after Lazio fans had littered the Stadio Olimpico in Rome with images of Anne Frank — the young diarist who died in the Holocaust — wearing a jersey of city rival Roma.
An extract from her diary was read out, and the silence observed at each match, as part of a wider initiative by Italian football authorities to distance the national game from the weekend’s events in Rome.
On the pitch, AC Milan ended a lean spell in spectacular style with a 4-1 win at Chievo Verona. It hosts Juventus on Saturday.
Juventus also recorded a 4-1 victory, against struggling Spal, while Napoli won 3-2 at Genoa to move back to the top of the table.
Napoli has two more points than second-placed Inter Milan, which beat Sampdoria 3-2 on Tuesday.
Juventus is a point further back along with Lazio after the capital side won 2-1 at Bologna.
Here’s a look at Wednesday’s games:
Lazio players walked out wearing white T-shirts printed with a photo of Anne Frank and the words “no to anti-Semitism.” They also warmed up in the same shirts.
The team struggled to find its usual game, with Ciro Immobile missing a penalty and the capital club hitting the woodwork four times.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Senad Lulic netted for Lazio in the first half. Lulic also scored in the wrong net early in the second period.
RELIEF FOR MONTELLA
Milan coach Vincenzo Montella was feeling the pressure after a draw and three defeats, including a loss to city rival Inter.
Suso broke the deadlock in the 36th minute with a fantastic strike into the far side of the net from the edge of the area. He also had a hand in Milan’s second, six minutes later, when his cross towards Nikola Kalinic was headed into his own net by Bostjan Cesar.
Hakan Calhanoglu finished off a rapid counterattack 10 minutes after the break and, although former Milan winger Valter Birsa got one back for Chievo in the 61st, Kalinic restored the Rossoneri’s three-goal advantage four minutes later following another assist from Suso.
“The result gives us strength, conviction and ambition,” Montella said. “I’m very happy with our performance but we have to immediately think of our next match. I want to see the real spark against Juve. I hope the Bianconeri will underestimate us a bit.”
Dries Mertens narrowly missed out on a hat trick as he steered Napoli to its ninth win in 10 league matches.
Mertens curled a free kick into the top right corner to cancel out Adel Taarabt’s early opener and gave Napoli the lead on the half hour. The Belgium international showed great control to bring down Amadou Diawara’s long ball over the top and fire in off the crossbar.
It was Mertens’ ninth goal of the season.
He thought he had completed his hat trick on the hour, but his cross-shot was turned in by Ervin Zukanovic and went down as an own goal by the Genoa defender.
Armando Izzo headed in for Genoa to set up a nervy final 15 minutes for Napoli.
Federico Bernardeschi made the most of his rare start for Juventus with a magnificent opening goal.
The Italy forward controlled Douglas Costa’s flick with his right foot before volleying it in with his left.
Paulo Dybala doubled Juve’s lead with a trademark free kick but Alberto Paloschi got Spal back into the match before the break.
Juventus survived a scare early in the second half when Marios Oikonomou had a goal ruled out because Paloschi was offside.
Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri was so angry with his team that he threw his jacket to the floor. It seemed to wake the Bianconeri up as they stretched their advantage through Gonzalo Higuain and Juan Cuadrado.
“We won’t underestimate Milan at all,” Allegri said. “On the contrary, if we have a performance like tonight’s, we will come away aching all over and having lost.
“We did well to kill the contest off after 20 minutes, but then we let them back into it. It’s one thing to know that we’re strong, it’s another to be arrogant about it and we mustn’t be arrogant. I hope it’s the first and last time I throw my jacket.”
Diego Perotti converted a debatable penalty to give fifth-placed Roma a 1-0 win over Crotone.
Benevento thought it had earned its first Serie A point with a stoppage-time penalty, but Leonardo Pavoletti sealed a dramatic 2-1 win for Cagliari.
Also, it was: Atalanta 3, Hellas Verona 0; Fiorentina 3, Torino 0; and Sassuolo 0, Udinese 1.
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