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Pulisic achieves personal best scoring season, AC Milan beats Lecce

AC Milan's Christian Pulisic AC Milan's Christian Pulisic - The Canadian Press

MILAN (AP) — United States standout Christian Pulisic reached double figures in goals for the first time in a league season after his sublime strike began AC Milan's 3-0 win over 10-man Lecce in Serie A on Saturday.

Pulisic’s early goal and 10th in the Italian league surpassed his previous best of nine in the 2019-20 English Premier League for Chelsea. The winger also has three goals in Europe and had already bettered his overall scoring record.

Olivier Giroud and Rafael Leão also scored against Lecce, which played the entire second half with 10 men after forward Nikola Krstović was sent off.

Milan could even afford to ring the changes in the second half with Thursday’s Europa League quarterfinal against Roma in mind. Roma beat Lazio 1-0 in the capital derby later Saturday.

Second-placed Milan trimmed the gap to runaway Serie A leader Inter Milan to 11 points ahead of the Nerazzurri’s match at Udinese on Monday.

Lecce remained four points above the drop zone.

On a warm and sunny day at San Siro, Samuel Chukwueze did well to cut inside from the right and beat two defenders before finding Pulisic on the edge of the area. The American controlled the ball and unleashed an unstoppable left-footed strike.

That was with less than six minutes on the clock. Pulisic almost doubled his tally immediately but Lecce goalkeeper Wladimiro Falcone parried the header from point-blank range.

Milan got the second in the 20th when Yacine Adli whipped in a corner from the left and Giroud headed it in at the near post.

Lecce almost pulled one back but Joan González’s header came off the crossbar and the visitors’ chances diminished on the stroke of halftime when Krstović was shown a straight red card for a high tackle on Chukwueze.

Milan sealed the match in the 57th after Leão raced onto a Théo Hernandez throughball and fired it into the bottom right corner.

Hernandez also hit the crossbar seven minutes later, after Milan coach Stefano Pioli took off Pulisic, Giroud and Matteo Gabbia in a triple substitution.


Former Roma captain Daniele De Rossi won his first capital derby as a coach to end his team's dismal run in the Derby della Capitale.

Roma hadn't won or scored in the derby since a victory in March 2022. That was followed by three losses and a draw, including an Italian Cup defeat in January that effectively cost coach Jose Mourinho his job.

Lazio had an even newer coach after Igor Tudor took over last month.

Gianluca Mancini scored the only goal shortly before halftime when he headed in a Paulo Dybala corner.

Stephan El Shaarawy also hit the post for Roma in the second half, and Daichi Kamada had what would have been an equalizer ruled out for offside.

Roma and England forward Tammy Abraham was brought on with nine minutes remaining for his first appearance since tearing a cruciate ligament in the final match of last season.

Fifth-placed Roma moved to within two points of Bologna and nine above Lazio, in seventh.


M’Baye Niang's stoppage-time winner saw Empoli snap a four-match losing run with a crucial 3-2 victory over Torino to climb out of the relegation zone.

Torino twice leveled through Duvan Zapata headers. His second appeared to have given the visitor a point as it came in the the first minute of stoppage time but Niang struck three minutes later.

Empoli, which also hadn't scored a goal in those four losses, moved three points clear of the bottom three. Torino remained ninth.


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