AC Milan academy graduates shine v Roma; Juventus snowed out
By ANDREW DAMPF
Feb. 25, 2018
ROME (AP) — AC Milan's youth academy graduates, Patrick Cutrone and Davide Calabria, each scored in a convincing 2-0 win at Roma on Sunday that puts the once crisis-ridden Rossoneri within striking distance of the Champions League spots.
With new coach Gennaro Gattuso making a big impact, Milan extended its unbeaten streak to eight matches in the league and 12 in all competitions.
"We are really united now and I think the victory is down to the group," Cutrone said. "We've proved we are a fine team unit."
Milan hadn't won at Roma since Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a brace in a 3-2 victory in October 2011.
Milan moved level with sixth-placed Sampdoria, seven points below fourth-placed Inter Milan ahead of next weekend's Milan derby.
The top three finishers in Serie A qualify for the Champions League while the fourth-place finisher enters the last round of playoffs for the lucrative competition.
"First let's focus on Wednesday," Cutrone said, referring to an Italian Cup semifinal against Lazio. "We want to reach the final."
Roma dropped from third to fifth.
Elsewhere, Juventus' match against Atalanta was postponed due to a snow-covered pitch in Turin.
The postponement risks dropping Juventus further behind Serie A leader Napoli, which plays at Cagliari on Monday. Napoli is one point ahead and both sides have won nine straight.
At a rainy Stadio Olimpico, Cutrone used the side of his heel to redirect in a cross from Suso shortly after the break.
Calabria then chipped in after Nikola Kalinic threaded a pass through Roma's porous offside trap for his first career Serie A goal.
"The difference was in the opening Milan goal," Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco said. "Suso's pass showed quality and Cutrone showed determination to get on the end of it. That's what we were lacking."
Both the 20-year-old Cutrone and the 21-year-old Calabria emerged from Milan's youth system, which was also where Gattuso worked before he replaced the fired Vincenzo Montella in November.
Roma's only real threat was a dangerous effort from Turkey revelation Cengiz Under early on which forced Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma to stretch out and push wide.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic showed just why some of Europe's top clubs are after him with two goals as Lazio strolled to a 3-0 win at Sassuolo.
The league's leading scorer Ciro Immobile also netted a penalty as Lazio moved up to third, a point above Inter Milan and two above Roma.
Before the match against Sassuolo, Lazio's sporting director Igli Tare had confirmed the club had rejected a 70 million euro ($86 million) bid for Milinkovic-Savic, with Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain among the clubs reportedly interested in the Serbia midfielder, who turns 23 on Tuesday.
"Milinkovic is a really talented player," Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi said after the victory. "He's still very young and has so much desire to improve himself, I think he has a great future ahead of him.
"I hope Ciro wins the Golden Boot, because he deserves it for all the work he is doing."
The win will be a boost for Lazio ahead of a crucial period for the capital side that sees it play Milan in the second leg of their Italian Cup semifinal, host Juventus in Serie A and entertain Dynamo Kiev in the Europa League last 16.
Spal boosted its hopes of Serie A survival with a vital 3-2 win in a relegation battle at Crotone.
Spal remained 18th in the 20-team league, but moved to within a point of Crotone, which occupies the last position of safety.
Spal had lost its past three matches but took the lead in the 37th minute as Manuel Lazzari rolled the ball across from the right for Mirco Antenucci to fire into the top right corner.
Ante Budimir fired home a rebound shortly after halftime to level for Crotone but Lorenco Simic restored Spal's advantage two minutes later with a looping header.
It appeared as if Paloschi had secured Spal's victory when he put his side 3-1 up on the hour but Budimir netted his second of the match to set up a nervy final four minutes for the visitors.
Hellas Verona gave itself hope of avoiding the drop with a 2-1 win over Torino.
Verona moved to within two points of Crotone.
Elsewhere, Fiorentina beat Chievo Verona 1-0 and Matias Silvestre scored at both ends as his Sampdoria side beat Udinese 2-1.
Associated Press writer Daniella Matar in Milan contributed.
More AP Serie A coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/SerieA