AC Milan's Simic scores on debut in win over neighboring Monza
ROME (AP) — What a luxury for Inter Milan midfielder Nicolò Barella.
When his first pass for Lautaro Martinez was blocked, he sent his second attempt toward Marcus Thuram and watched as the France international quickly deposited the ball into the net.
Lautaro and Thuram have taken over from Napoli's Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia as Serie A’s most dangerous strike pairing — and they’re a big reason why Inter is starting to open up a gap at the top of the Italian league standings.
Lautaro and Thuram scored in each half as Inter won 2-0 at Lazio on Sunday and the Nerazzurri moved four points ahead of second-place Juventus, which was held to a 1-1 draw at Genoa on Friday.
Inter has lost only once this season — to Sassuolo in September.
Lautaro showed off his attacking instincts by intercepting an ill-advised back pass from Lazio fullback Adam Marusic to put Inter ahead. Then Thuram finished off the counterattack inspired by Barella.
Lautaro now has 15 goals and two assists in the league. Thuram has seven goals and six assists.
Lautaro celebrated his goal by revealing an undershirt with a dedication to his hometown of Bahia Blanca, Argentina, which was hit by a deadly storm.
It was also an emotional victory for Inter coach Simone Inzaghi, who played most of his career at Lazio and began his coaching career with the Roman club.
Lazio ended with 10 men following a red card for Manuel Lazzari for protesting.
Maurizio Sarri's Lazio dropped into the bottom half of the table.
MEMORABLE MILAN DEBUT
The 18-year-old center back Jan-Carlo Simic had a debut to remember for AC Milan, scoring 17 minutes after he came on for an injured teammate in a 3-0 win over neighboring Monza at the San Siro.
Simic was mobbed by his teammates after redirecting in a cross from Rafael Leão late in the first half, having been unexpectedly thrust into action following an injury to Tommaso Pobega.
While he was born in Germany and began his career there, Simic has represented Serbia up to the under-19 level. His idol is former Milan captain Paolo Maldini.
“I watched videos of him when I was a little kid,” Simic said. “It's an honor to be here.”
Tijjani Reijnders and Noah Okafor also scored for third-place Milan, which moved within five points of Juventus.
In a solid performance for the Rossoneri after getting eliminated from the Champions League, United States international Christian Pulisic also rattled the crossbar with a long-range shot and goalkeeper Mike Maignan made a difficult save on a shot from Monza standout Andrea Colpani.
It was the first time the two clubs met since the death in June of Silvio Berlusconi, the longtime Milan president who then bought Monza, which is still run by former Milan vice president Adriano Galliani.
Reijnders dribbled through Monza’s defense before slotting in to give Milan an early advantage. The Netherlands midfielder also set up Okafor’s goal midway through the second half.
Okafor then also exited with an apparent injury.
MOTTA BEATS MOURINHO
Bologna coach Thiago Motta got the better of his mentor as his team beat Jose Mourinho’s Roma 2-0 to surge up into fourth place and the Champions League spots.
Motta played under Mourinho when Inter Milan won a treble of titles in 2010.
Roma was missing Romelu Lukaku, who was suspended, and Paulo Dybala, who was injured. The Giallorossi dropped down to seventh.
Nikola Moro put Bologna ahead toward the end of the first half by finishing off a swift counterattack. Then a cross from Lewis Ferguson produced an own-goal from Rasmus Kristensen after the break.
Bologna has not played in Europe since featuring in the Intertoto Cup in 2002.
Before kickoff, family members of Sinisa Mihajlovic were invited onto the field to mark the one-year anniversary of the former Bologna coach's death from leukemia.
Bologna fans also chanted Mihajlovic's name in the closing minutes.
“The victory is for Sinisa,” Motta said. “I’m sure he’s watching us.”
Added Mourinho about Motta, “He’ll always be one of my kids.”
Mourinho put on midfielder Renato Sanches to start the second half and then — clearly unhappy with his performance — took him off after just 19 minutes.
Afterward, Mourinho stated publicly for the first time that he wants to extend his contract at Roma.
Lucas Beltran scored a late goal with the help of a deflection in Fiorentina's 1-0 win over Hellas Verona as the Viola moved into sixth.
Also, Domenico Berardi struck twice as Sassuolo came back from two goals down for a 2-2 draw at Udinese.
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