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Inter enjoys an ideal weekend

China Daily | Updated: 2017-12-05 07:23

MILAN - Ivan Perisic fired unbeaten Inter Milan to the top of Serie A on Sunday with a hat-trick in a 5-0 win over Chievo, after Gennaro Gattuso's AC Milan reign began with goalkeeper Alberto Brignoli's header giving Benevento its maiden Serie A point.

Croatian Perisic opened the San Siro goal blitz after 23 minutes and added two more in the second half, while Inter captain Mauro Icardi made it 16 for the season seven minutes before the break and defender Milan Skriniar found the net on the hour mark.

Luciano Spalletti's Inter is now the league's only unbeaten team after 15 games, after Napoli lost 1-0 at home to champion Juventus on Friday.

Inter is top of Serie A for the first time since January 2016, one point ahead of Napoli and two above Juventus, which is chasing its seventh straight league title and hosts Inter on Saturday.

"It's not important who scores the goals; only the team counts. We've waited a long time for first place and now we go to Turin to win against Juve," said Perisic.

Spalletti agreed, adding: "It's not the title match but we want to try to bring home three points like in all the matches.

"We have shown we have character and players of their level, so it will certainly be a great challenge."

Despite the absence of key players Roberto Gagliardini, Matias Vecino and Joao Miranda, Inter proved deadly efficient against an outclassed Chievo.

Icardi moved top of the scoring chart, but it was Perisic who stole the show on a night where there were double celebrations for Inter fans as AC Milan let points slip against rock-bottom Benevento.

Keeper Brignoli snatched newcomer Benevento's first ever top-flight point deep into stoppage time to spoil Gattuso's debut and spark wild celebrations for the host after a thrilling 2-2 draw.

With the home side a goal down and pushing 10-man Milan back in search of an equalizer, Brignoli, on loan from Juventus, headed home Danilo Cataldi's freekick five minutes into injury time to end the southern side's record losing run.

Benevento had surpassed Manchester United's 12-game losing start, a record for the top five European leagues established 87 years ago, on Nov 19, and was pointless after 14 games coming into the match with Milan.

"Someone from the bench told me to go up. There was nothing to lose, so I jumped and closed my eyes," said Brignoli.

"It's a very strong, indescribable feeling. I dedicate the goal to all the people who are living a dream that they hoped would be better.

"We have lost so many games undeservedly at the end, even with Juventus. For once after three months of sacrifice by everyone, it is nice to be able to celebrate."

Giacomo Bonaventura opened the scoring for Milan after 38 minutes at Stadio Vigorito before George Puscas pulled Benevento even five minutes after the break.

Croatian forward Nikola Kalinic got Milan back in front seven minutes later only for Alessio Romagnoli to be sent off for a second bookable offense, leaving the visitor a man down for the final 15 minutes.

That set the stage for Brignoli's heroics.

"It would have been less painful to suffer a stab wound than that goal," said Gattuso, who took over in midweek after Vincenzo Montella was fired as the seven-time European champions sits eighth, way below the Champions League ambitions of its new Chinese owners.

Agence France - presse

Inter enjoys an ideal weekend

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